Technology

A tenacious tech-trio

Global network and digital services giant Orange Business is helping to revolutionise the mining industry, changing the way mines communicate for the better.

LEO satellites, SASE and AIOps may all sound like complicated pieces of technology, but in reality, these simple systems are changing the way mines work, connect and communicate.

For mining organisations, the combination of these can be a game-changer, bringing significant improvements in efficiency, safety, and profitability. This tech-trio is offering a new reality of seamless and secure connected operations, while keeping mining businesses future-proofed.

Orange Business Australia and New Zealand managing director Andrew Borthwick sat down with Australian Mining to explain just how much a mine can benefit from these solutions.

LEO satellites

Low earth orbit (LEO) satellites are just that; satellites orbiting Earth at a lower altitude than traditional satellites, making them ideal for delay-sensitive applications that support mine sites.

Orbiting between 160–2000km above the Earth’s surface, LEO satellites work as a group, meaning if one satellite experiences an issue, another one is ready to take over to ensure those on the ground receive uninterrupted service.

“LEO satellites are hugely beneficial for the global mining industry because resources are often found in difficult environments that are hard to reach with terrestrial communications,” Borthwick told Australian Mining.

“The use of LEO satellites makes a huge difference for mines from a connectivity perspective, because employees can transmit data from out on the field in real-time.”

Orange Business Australia and New Zealand managing director Andrew Borthwick.
Image: Prime Creative Media

With exploration teams having to venture further out to find ore deposits, fast connectivity is paramount.

Using LEO satellites, valuable information on terrain can be fed back to base instantly. From a safety perspective, these satellites also ensure help can be expedited if something goes wrong.

“Occupational health and safety in mining is paramount,” Borthwick said. “If there happens to be an accident, emergency services can respond quicker, and those back at the mine will know exactly who needs help and where they are.”

Having been in the Australian/New Zealand marketplace for over 40 years, Orange Business plays a key part in getting new LEO satellites up and running for mine sites across the world.

“The feedback from our customers has been excellent,” Borthwick said. “They love how easy it is to use and how fast it is.

“We often receive feedback from our customers that LEO satellites are improving their production and lowering the amount of time they spend determining if a site is worthwhile to mine at, as they can send that information straight to decision-makers on-site who can say yes or no in an instant.”

SASE

With cyberattacks on the rise across almost all industries in Australia, there has never been a better time for mines to invest in secure access service edge (SASE) technology.

In a nutshell, SASE ensures that people accessing a network’s data are who they say they are. This is done through Zero Trust, a framework based on least-privilege principles. This means that no user or device should be given access to resources based solely on their location on the network.

“There will never be enough being done with regards to cyber defence,” Borthwick said. “Businesses are spending more on it, but criminals are getting smarter, too.

“Most people think of a mine as just big trucks driving around, but they can be incredibly dangerous places. The crushers alone are crushing over 300 tonnes of rock every thirty seconds to a minute.

“You can imagine the damage a hack could create into an automated machine on a mine; it would be chaos. Cybersecurity is necessary to protect privacy, profits and, ultimately, lives.”

So how does SASE fit into the context of a mine and deliver a more secure user experience while not skimping on operational excellence?

As Borthwick explained, the solution lies in SASE’s simplicity.

“SASE is a very simplified way of securing a network,” he said. “With SASE, you have everything in one location on the end of a router that effectively secures a mine’s entire ecosystem.

“But many mines are legacy sites, which means they have implemented a suite of technology in the past; they have firewalls and routers and cloud infrastructure.

“That’s where we come in. Orange Business can look at a mine’s entire architecture and make the time to understand its technology investment and needs before coming up with a strategy to move the mine into using SASE.”

Because every single mine is different from the last, Orange Business provides a customised approach to each customer to ensure they get what they need from their cybersecurity.

“We always start out by creating a relationship with the customer to better understand their needs,” Borthwick said. “Depending on their needs, we then do a series of workshops with the customer where we provide recommendations.

“We might also do a proof-of-concept around a particular technology where, after a short period of use, we look at the results to see how things are progressing.

“There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into that from our part, but fundamentally our job is to decomplicate as much of the customer’s environment as possible, and to make it easy and simple to get services from us, while meeting our customers’ business objectives.”

AIOps

Artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) is a service that allows organisations to correlate data from various sources to visualise key performance indicators and any issues.

Or, as Borthwick explained, AIOps is essentially a fabric that stretches across the entire IT service stack.

“AIOps plugs into all of the relevant points inside a customer’s IT environment,” he said. “And AI is a lot quicker than humans at remembering and analysing the environment to determine uptime and downtime.

“It’s always plugged into these points, so it can tell if data starts to leak out from a hack, for example. It can then alert the team so they’re aware, but it can also start to fix the problem itself.

“Or if AIOps notices that a software hasn’t been upgraded in a while, it can automatically upgrade it, which means teams don’t get bogged down in mundane tasks like updates; they can focus on more important aspects of running a mine.”

It’s these insights that have kept customers coming back to Orange Business for more.

“Our customers in the mining and resources sector have been with us for 10 to 15 years,” Borthwick said. “We have hands and feet on the ground all over the world, ready to spring into action when our customers need us to.

“And though we might be recommending AI to our customers, we don’t see AI as something that will take jobs; in fact, we see it creating jobs and expanding the economy.

“At Orange Business, we’re using AI and it’s having a significant and positive impact on our world. It’s not creating cutbacks – on the contrary, it’s actually helping us do a better job for our customers.”

Orange Business imagines a world where users have ubiquitous access to applications and data, regardless of location, as well as a single, simplified governance and operational model with user experience tracking and guaranteed service levels.

Today, this vision can become reality, seamlessly integrated with a mine’s environment and business policies.

This feature appeared in the July 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

Send this to a friend