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Cloud, Big Data and AI Innovations in Mining and Education

Mining and education are very different, but both benefit from common components like cloud, big data and AI.

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This week, I’m finishing this series on change, innovation and invention. Over the last few weeks, I have been exploring innovation by selected industries in several posts. First, I introduced the ideas of change, innovation and invention. Then I explored selected industries including banking and insurance. Most recently, I took a look at manufacturing and agriculture.

This week, I’ll focus on mining and education. These two industries are very different, providing an interesting contrast. However, more and more industries are able to benefit from common components like cloud, big data and AI.

IBM has a Solution for Mining

The global base metal mining market size is significant. In 2018, it was valued at $324.8 billion. In addition, it is expected to register a CAGR of 4.1% from 2019 to 2025 due to anticipated increasing demands for base metals from construction, electrical and electronics, and the automotive sector. These are the key growth drivers.
What is IBM doing in this industry space? IBM has a metals and mining solution called IBM Plant Advisor, a cloud-based service that advises manufacturing plant operators and process engineers on the optimal operating parameters. These solution-generated parameters result in lower energy costs while maximizing throughput at best possible quality. The IBM solution learns optimal plant operating parameters from historical plant process parameters, process outputs, plant operator actions and equipment maintenance details. Do you recognize the “software that learns” trend?
The cloud-based service also collects process inputs and ambient conditions. With those inputs, the solution predicts anomalous conditions and prescribes the right parameter set-points for the given situation that would optimize throughput energy and quality. Additionally, the solution continuously monitors operator actions and advises the operator on the right set of actions to take.
To be able to detect problems before they occur and boost productivity and predictability across the mining enterprise is important in an industry that has so many fixed costs and expensive machinery.   

What IBM Technology Is Used?

Today, mining is benefiting from Industry 4.0, which is a joining of technologies and approaches that builds on advanced manufacturing with the innovations including cloud, Internet of Things and blockchain. The IBM Technology that makes Industry 4.0 in metals and mining a reality employs these three featured main components:
  1. Uses IBM Cloud solutions that facilitate real-time access into data and applications for insights that help save time and control costs
  2. Employs the Internet of Things to avoid problems and thus improve quality by continuously monitoring and analyzing mining operation data
  3. Exploits IBM Blockchain to help securely track metals within the supply chain to ensure customers and suppliers know their origin
These aren’t the only technologies employed in IBM for mining purposes, but these three represent components that reinforce and drive other elements of current industry IT solutions.

Using AI in Education

According to a research report by Halon IQ, the global education technology market will reach $341 billion by 2025. This number only accounts for the technology dimension of the market. The overall education market, including the technology component, is estimated to be $10 trillion in 2030.
What is IBM doing in this industry space? Among other contributions, IBM has IBM Watson Education. The IBM Watson Education team is focused on using AI to improve learning outcomes, helping all students to succeed. The platform relies on digital trends and Watson AI technology to give teachers the tools they need to be most effective. It’s also geared to help learners perform at the top of their abilities. IBM Watson Education employs AI as an added assistant in the classroom with the goal of encouraging lifelong learning where each person is met with the individualized tools.   
How does this work? Specifically, how is IBM using AI in education? Here are three main ideas:
  1. Personalized content for students based on mastery through lessons, activities and assignments for students based on their current level of achievement
  2. Enhancing early childhood vocabulary development through a tablet-based vocabulary learning application that can identify areas that require additional focus
  3. One-to-one, AI-based tutoring for students, including tracking their progress, adapting to the conversation and providing insights to instructors

Adding Real-World Experiences 

There’s even more to IBM education industry solutions. This brief from North Carolina State University Poole College of Management identifies a need: “The Poole College of Management at NC State University wanted a platform to help students turn big data into knowledge for better decision making.”
The University implemented an IBM big data solution including IBM InfoSphere BigInsights and IBM Content Analytics software. This toolset helped the students effectively manage and analyze large volumes of structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources, enabling the students to apply big data analytics to real-world business problems. Isn’t it great to get a dose of the “real-world” in school along with other more academic learning?

Next Week  

Next week, I’ll start a new series driven by my reading of the latest IBM Redbooks publications.  
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