BHP Trials Wearable Technology On Its Iron Ore Mines During COVID-19

BHP wearable technology mining
Image: BHP

BHP said cutting edge wearable technology is enabling its teams in Perth to remotely assist auto electricians’ and mechanical fitters remotely. The company used mixed-reality (MR) like the Microsoft HoloLens to link its teams in Australia with auto electricians and mechanical fitters on-site from 1,300 kilometers away.

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“When COVID-19 struck, our teams couldn’t travel from Perth to our sites in Western Australia,” said Alex Bertram, Manager Digital Transformation in WAIO. “So we improvised. In mining, people FIFO (fly-in, fly-out). Some DIDO (drive-in, drive-out). Soon our teams will be able to RiRo – which stands for Remote-In Remote-Out. RiRo is essentially our teams providing remote assistance via live point of view video calls to our personnel on site.”

According to Bertram, the teams could soon start a new travel arrangement termed as remote-in, remote out (RiRo). With RiRo, teams can provide remote assistance via live point of view video calls to BHP personnel on-site, reports SafeToWork.

“RiRo…[allows] BHP engineers, integrated planning and remote operations (IPRO) operators and technical experts in Perth, in site offices or anywhere in the world to see exactly what people in the field see, in real-time,” said Cristina Perbellini Silva, who serves as the manager of decision automation in technology.

A group of miners
Image: BHP

BHP’s team of technicians used cloud services and a headset device to call for help and support when needed, such as for complex tasks. BHP has a very high-performance rate at its Western Australian Iron Ore division operations, leaving little room for downtime, Bertram said.

“Utilizing cloud services and a mixed reality headset device, our technicians on the frontline can call for help and technical support when they need it most – during critical breakdowns and when undertaking new or complex tasks,” Bertram said.

“This approach is essentially our teams providing remote assistance via live-point-of-view video calls to our personnel on-site.”

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BHP Minerals Australia vice president of technology, Pat Bourke said:

“Remote work using technology was always an option for us, however, COVID-19 has pushed us to really harness innovative technology and we will only continue to improve our productivity as we make it widely available and perfect its use.”

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Sam Draper () is Online Editor at WT | Wearable Technologies specialized in the field of sports and fitness but also passionated about any new lifestyle gadget on the market. Sam can be contacted at press(at)