Tinamu transform mining with automation and drone technology

By Grant Harvey
Swiss firm Tinamu's ground-breaking AI-powered drone system is redefining stockpile volume measurement in mining

In the fast-paced and high-stakes mining, metals, and chemicals industries, Tinamu is making waves as an innovative player, pioneering the realm of robotics and AI-powered stockpile volumetric measurements. A spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Tinamu has introduced a ground-breaking automation workflow that is changing how industries monitor stockpile inventory.

Traditionally, stockpile volume measurement was a painstaking and error-prone manual task that often struggled to keep up with the fast-paced dynamics of the industry.

Keeping accurate and up-to-date inventory records of dry bulk is a daily challenge. Weighbridges, conveyor scales, draft surveys, and the rest of the existing solutions have their limitations and rarely deal effectively with the dynamics of the mining industry. Inspections cannot be done multiple times a week, nor can regular human-piloted drones, as both have a high incurred cost and long turnaround to provide results.

As a result, recency and confidence about the inventory are low and lead to logistic and operations inefficiencies. And the lack of visibility leaves room for fraud.

AI drives transformation in mining through data processing

Tinamu's game-changing solution is an AI-powered autonomous drone system that captures high-resolution images of stockpiles, analyses the data, and delivers precise volumetric measurements in a matter of hours. This creates a much-needed breath of fresh air in the mining supply chain, especially where fraud detection and rapid, accurate inventory management are paramount.

Tinamu's technology combines autonomous drone navigation, cloud-based and AI-driven data processing, and a user-friendly platform to deliver periodic volume measurements of stockpiles with below-centimetre precision. As the drones gather data, it is uploaded to the cloud, processed with AI, and then returned to the user within a few hours via a web interface and visualised in easily digestible dashboards.

This technology also enables early identification and resolution of discrepancies.

These interfaces enable tracking of changes in material distribution, analysis of inventory trends over time, and provision of detailed inventory data for each stockpile that’s been surveyed, enhancing monitoring and logistics planning and maximizing warehouse utilisation.

This innovative solution expands the limitations of traditional bulk inventory technology, like weighbridges and conveyor belts, and resolves issues associated with fixed sensors, including fine dust and blind spots. This technology also amplifies fraud detection capabilities, enabling early identification and resolution of discrepancies.

Where traditional methods take days, Tinamu’s system reduces this to mere hours. The platform ensures that from the moment the drones take flight, the collected data is swiftly processed and delivered to the client, maximizing efficiency and reducing waiting time. Marco Rodzynek, the founder of NOAH Conference, praises Tinamu's fully automated solution as "more flexible and up to 90% more cost-efficient than traditional methods".

The company claims the ease of use, fast data turnaround, and increased accuracy of Tinamu's automated processes provide improved 24/7 visibility for end-to-end automated monitoring and control over warehouse inventories, offering reliable and precise measurements at the push of a button without the need for a pilot.

"I can't imagine our operations without it"

Already validated by leading players in the mining industry, Tinamu's technology is also making significant inroads across various other sectors - including chemicals, construction, and agriculture - that handle dry cargo.

For instance, companies dealing with various bulk goods can leverage Tinamu's solution to streamline their inventory management, enhance logistics planning, and increase operational efficiency. And financed cargo under a collateral management agreement in remote areas can benefit from secure, trusted measurements for early fraud detection and operational verification.

A case in point is KIBAG, a large Swiss building materials group. KIBAG is highly dependent on reliable stock levels and needs to constantly monitor how much free space they have and how much inventory is available for sale. But like many in the industry, they were estimating these stockpile volumes visually, and the reporting was done in Excel. Because of the lack of accuracy, there were issues in planning and coordination that made the system totally unreliable.

Incorporating Tinamu's solutions into their operations led to a radical improvement in stockpile measurements and a significant boost in operational efficiency that built trust back into the system with technology. “We push a button, the drone automatically flies indoors, outdoors and we get real-time stock data,” says Urs Ficher, Site Manager at KIBAG. "Now that we use Tinamu’s solution, I can’t imagine our operations without it."

The ANAFI Ai's robust features such as 4G connectivity, reliable indoor mission execution, and obstacle avoidance fit perfectly with Tinamu's needs.

Not only does Tinamu's technology deliver efficiency and accuracy, but it also contributes to a more sustainable world. By automating the process, human error, waste, and carbon emissions are significantly reduced, leading to better utilisation of resources and safer inspection methods.

On May 11th, Tinamu announced a technological partnership with globally recognised European drone manufacturer Parrot. The synergistic partnership provides a software layer to transform Parrot’s hardware into autonomous, self-navigating drones capable of operating in challenging indoor environments and has further amplified the scope and impact of Tinamu's solutions.

AI safety continues to digitally transform industries

Now seamlessly integrated into Tinamu's indoor monitoring system, the ANAFI Ai's robust features such as 4G connectivity, reliable indoor mission execution, and obstacle avoidance fit perfectly with Tinamu's needs. Coupled with the ability to upload custom autonomous missions, the partnership unlocks new possibilities for service delivery.

Tinamu's proficiency in indoor autonomous flight sets it apart from the competition, and Tinamu’s automation workflow now enables Parrot’s drones to provide reliable and precise measurements at the push of a button without the need for a pilot.

Tinamu anticipates improvement in service delivery, enhancing safety, speed, and accuracy, which will substantially improve their customers' experience. Chris Roberts, VP and Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Parrot, also echoes these sentiments, marking the automation of drones as the future for scaling professional drone usage.

Another crucial aspect of this partnership is its adherence to the highest cybersecurity standards. The ANAFI Ai drone is compliant with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), includes a Secure Element to protect the embedded software, provides for strong authentication, and supplies a digital image signature. This strong focus on data privacy makes it an optimal choice for Tinamu, especially considering the sensitive nature of warehouse inventory data.

With an operational footprint in several European countries, including Switzerland, Belgium, and France, Tinamu is rapidly expanding its reach. The company is continually enhancing its platform, keeping it ready for technological advancements and adapting to the industry's changing needs. Tinamu's future plans include adding additional sensors to its platform, such as thermal imaging, further adding value to indoor inventory monitoring. By having drones fly autonomously and repeatedly monitor the temperature of stockpiles, Tinamu should be able to provide early detection of moisture in grains and self-combustion in coal.

By creating a new way of doing periodic stockpile monitoring, Tinamu is pushing the boundaries in the mining supply chain.

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