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Intelligent Understanding and Response in Coal Mines

2021/10/27

[Beijing, China, October 27, 2021] During the 19th China International Coal Mining Technology Exchange and Equipment Exhibition in 2021, Jiang Wangcheng — President of Huawei Coal Mine Team Solutions — delivered a keynote speech: Intelligent Understanding and Response in Coal Mines .

Mr . Jiang began the speech with an interpretation of the construction standards for intelligent coal mines, which play a pivotal role in improving production safety and ensuring a stable supply of coal. Getting the top-level design right is paramount, in order to promote deep integration at the organizational and technical level. The construction of future mines with intelligent, safe, and hierarchically decoupled architecture, will not only improve safety and efficiency, it will also reduce the workforce needed onsite as well as drive innovation in the industry.

At the technical level, Machine Learning (ML), big data, and cloud technologies need to be highly integrated with the coal mining industry to accelerate intelligentization.

Today, the coal industry has a mission of growing importance. The acceleration of the construction of coal mining intelligence is therefore imminent.

Based on its extensive experience in Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Huawei's Coal Mine Team is working toward building intelligent information infrastructure featuring unified Internet of Things (IoT) data standards, slicing networks, and digital platforms. The team aims to spur innovation, with four key capabilities for intelligent applications, and is committed to collaborating with industry partners to enable intelligent coal mining and industry digital transformation.

01 Huawei MineHarmony OS Unifies Data Standards and Enables the Internet of Everything

Traditionally, the Operating Systems (OSs) of key coal mining equipment are provided by multiple vendors, leading to a lack of unified data standards. As such, cross-system linkage between different equipment is difficult, and intelligent services are out of reach.

MineHarmony, an OS developed by Huawei, ensures the continuity of technology and provides unified device IoT communication protocols. Its unique soft bus technology provides near-field communication capabilities, to implement quick detection and interconnection across devices, enabling plug-and-play and device-edge-cloud integration. In addition, MineHarmony supports convenient cross-system association of devices.

After working together with the industry's leading enterprises and partners for nearly half a year, application scenarios for Huawei's solutions have gradually diversified. The fully mechanized mining face now uses the sensing and interconnection function of near-field devices to implement intelligent collaboration between the shearer, hydraulic support, and scraper conveyor, improving overall work efficiency.

For daily inspection of the tunnel and mining face, devices and sensors are automatically connected to the mobile phone of underground operators through the "one-touch connection" function, enabling data to be automatically reported. These intelligent connected devices completely transform operations, from purely manual-based to operations that can be managed through mobile phones, greatly improving both inspection efficiency and safety

02 An Elastic and Efficient Slicing Network Simplifies Network O&M and Improves Service Reliability

Currently, there are multiple underground networks solely dedicated to either production, industrial control, or video monitoring. A lack of unified network planning like this has led to network congestion and overly complex Operations and Maintenance (O&M). In short, network and Information Technology (IT) devices lack a unified ring network protocol, which causes broadcast storm. In addition, in the future, bandwidth will become a major issue as demand for new services grows, from High Definition (HD) video to remote control.

Responding to such demand, mature slicing networks simplify network O&M. Meanwhile, precise network planning and network construction must be performed based on services, preventing network congestion risks and enhancing the service experience. On the access ring and backbone ring, End to End (E2E) service-based slicing simplifies networking and implements unified management and O&M. New, intrinsically safe devices , and reused legacy devices form a dual-plane bearer network, enhancing network reliability and implementing smooth network evolution.

03 A Standardized and Integrated Unified Digital Platform Enables Coal Mine Applications and Data Sharing

In the past, single-service systems were built based on the needs of specific departments. As a result, they were siloed, meaning cross-system data sharing was impossible. To break down these data silos and enable data sharing and application development, Huawei has introduced a series of tools — such as data governance, ML, standardized Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and big data applications — to build a standardized and integrated digital platform.

To accelerate innovation in intelligent applications and provide a diverse range of applications, this digital platform is connected to the equipment system for data aggregation. Data is then cleaned and managed to enable big data analytics and mining. Finally, the data is processed through ML, to further optimize intelligent applications.

Huawei's digital platform is built on cloud technology, which means it can provide such ML capabilities that standalone systems and virtualization technologies simply lack. Indeed, a platform-based approach is what sets the cloud apart from virtualization technologies. Currently, Huawei's digital platform supports massive data training and scenario modeling to accelerate application intelligence.

Huawei's digital platform also supports ongoing evolution, for example, continuous iterative optimization of ML models to improve the accuracy of ML algorithms. In addition, multiple templates and annotation capabilities are available to achieve efficient ML training.

Finally, the digital platform serves as a foundation for developers to develop ML models, enriching ML algorithm models and expanding application scenarios .

04 Information Infrastructure based on a Digital Platform, Breaking the Bottlenecks of Key Services

With new technologies from the platform in place, including panoramic video stitching algorithms and ML, the fully mechanized mining face is effectively visualized, with remote monitoring and control of mining shearers now a reality.

Smart cameras, allied to ML, identify a range of issues, from coal stacking, belt tearing, belt deviation, and belt overload to personnel violations. This helps to mitigate potential security and safety risks, allowing the proactive handling of exceptions in advance and building an intelligent transportation system powered by intelligent perception and intelligent decision-making.

Process parameter optimization on the digital platform, based on big data and ML, improves the quality of coal washing and preparation, reducing coal blending costs and implementing intelligent coal washing and preparation.

With the digital platform, traditional paper-based operations are also moved to the digital domain, enabling the buildup of digital assets. Work orchestration and ML enablement improve operational efficiency and promote digital transformation through standardized digital operations.

Finally, intelligent collaboration between vehicles (sensing) and the cloud (the digital platform) enables autonomous driving in open-pit mines, improving overall operational efficiency, and enhancing personnel safety.

The construction of intelligent coal mines is a long journey without end. Huawei is committed to building a unified intelligent mine OS, slicing network, and digital platform, working with industry partners to introduce intelligence to coal mines and drive digital transformation forward in the industry.