June/July 2010

Editor's letter

Opening up the lines of communication

By A. Hamlyn

Angela Hamlyn

“The battery lifetime was 20 minutes, but that wasn’t really a big problem because you couldn’t hold that phone up for that long.”
~ Martin Cooper, inventor of the first practical mobile phone for hand-held use, which weighed one kilogram (2.2 pounds)

On April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper, a researcher and executive with Motorola, placed the first call on a hand-held mobile phone. The call, made just before heading into a press conference at the New York Hilton, connected Cooper to his rival, Dr. Joel Engel, a researcher at Bell Labs. The two companies had been engaged in a long race to produce the first portable mobile phone.

The competitive nature of that first cell phone conversation, essentially high-tech “trash talk,” set the tone for later development. Since then, the race for wireless telecommunication dominance has become nothing short of a marathon, with an ever-increasing number of competitors attempting to create systems and devices faster and better than the next. A simultaneous, and related, competition has sprung up on the systems technology front.

However, the very competitiveness that has spurred so much technological advancement has had its drawbacks, as manufacturers jealously guard their systems and technology. Add to this a multiplying network of systems that are unable, or not permitted, to “speak” to one another, as well as a reluctance by companies to share data with the manufacturers, out of fear of the information landing in “the wrong hands,” and it becomes harder to determine the “winners and losers” in this technology race.

In this issue of CIM Magazine, we take a look at some of the applications of wireless technology in the mining industry, as well as the logistical implications of the lack of systems integration — in particular with respect to asset management.

In the feature article “How reliable are your assets,” regular contributor Gillian Woodford explores how diagnostic data and predictive modelling can reduce equipment downtime, increase reliability and save money at today’s mining operations by providing real-time warnings about potential breakdowns. At the same time, we discover that a great deal of the data collected is rendered virtually useless because of a lag behind other industries in integrating its data collection systems.

Be sure to check out the “President’s notes” by new CIM president Chris Twigge-Molecey on page 8 as well as a Q&A with him on page 24, in which he shares some of the priorities of his mandate in the coming year. We also provide a recap of some of the highlights of the annual CIM Conference and Exhibition, which took place in Vancouver in May. By all accounts, the event was a spectacular success – an achievement that is being drawn upon as plans are already well underway for next year’s event in Montreal. Abstracts are now being accepted for the technical program, which promises to be stronger and more extensive than ever. (See Call for Abstracts on page 65.)

Open, two-way dialogue is also integral to the success and evolution of CIM Magazine, so please keep your feedback and suggestions coming so that we can integrate your ideas into our future editorial. It is this type of knowledge exchange that will help propel CIM forward as a community for leading industry expertise.

Angela Hamlyn,

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