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Rio Tinto launches its Big Data centre

Rio Tinto has launched the world’s first Analytics Excellence Centre, to aid productivity.

According to Rio the new centre “will assess massive volumes of data captured by the array of sensors attached to Rio Tinto’s fixed and mobile equipment and enable experts to predict and prevent engine breakdowns and other downtime events, significantly boosting productivity and safety”.

“Using predictive mathematics, machine learning and advanced modelling, data scientists in the Analytics Excellence Centre in Pune, India will be working to identify a range of problems before they occur.

“This analysis will reduce maintenance costs and production losses from unplanned breakdowns,” the miner said.

Rio Tinto has partnered with IGATE to develop the centre.

Speaking on its launch, Rio Tinto group executive technology and innovation Greg Lilleyman said: ““The Analytics Excellence Centre will allow us to extract maximum value from the data we are capturing around the performance of our equipment, making our operations more predictable, efficient and safer.

“This is a world-first for the mining industry and is all part of Rio Tinto’s relentless pursuit of productivity gains across our businesses.

““The Centre will help us predict the future through the use of advanced data analytic techniques to pinpoint with incredible accuracy the operating performance of our equipment. Our aim is to run more efficient, smarter and safer mining operations and provide greater shareholder returns.”

Previously speaking to Australian Mining (partner publication of PACE), Lilleyman has expounded upon Rio’s position on increasing productivity.

“We've been looking at improving productivity, and the development program associated with that such as the Remote Operations Centre and Centres of Excellence, since 2007 [at the height of Australia's reported resources productivity levels]; over the last eight years we've really aimed at increasing productivity – however to us it's all about reducing input and increasing output, whether that's through automation or better processes.

"When I was in the iron ore group with Sam Walsh, even then we were looking at what to do to stay ahead of the game and focusing on making our operations better, and ignoring the cyclical factor of commodities.

"We consider ourselves world class, and to stay that way we have to keep looking ahead at increasing our efficiency whether it be a time of boom or bust."

"We've just started dipping our toe in to Big Data," Lilleyman told Australian Mining, "we're really starting to understand how this concept can best apply to our business".

"For us Big Data is about knowing how to ask the right questions before we start using it, as its different to standard analytics, it's predictive.

"Previously, to get an understanding of our operations, we looked at the prior month and saw how sites performed and then change the operations from there whereas now Big Data allow you to identify patterns to predict operations in the future to where there might be a safety issue, or where equipment failures may occur, or how operations may perform in into the future.

"There's a lot of opportunity, but it is still a bit of 'watch this space'."

This new centre is not the first centre of excellence the miner has developed.

Last year it unveiled its Processing Centre of Excellence, which is aimed at provide processing solutions and initiatives to mine sites in Mongolia (at Oyu Tolgoi), the US (at Kennecott), and across Australia (at five different sites).

In 2013 it also opened a Centre for Emergent Technologies, which  is a new hub for excellence that will develop world-changing technologies to address issues related to energy efficiency, waste reduction, capital productivity, extension of resource life and process and operator safety.

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