Mining and industrial operations are two sectors that stand to benefit most from disruptive technologies. Rather than having a negative connotation, disruptive technologies are innovations that will change the way that people live, work and interact. The implementation of some of them can pose certain challenges because they can often cause fundamental changes in operations and IT focus, but ultimately they can make businesses better equipped for future challenges.
The McKinsey Global Institute recently released a report of today's twelve most disruptive technologies. These developments will contribute to change the landscape of technology, business operations, socioeconomics and/or personal lifestyles by 2025, and could have a potential economic impact of between $14 trillion and $33 trillion by that time in related costs and support systems. While not all of them relate directly to mining, oil and heavy industry, there are several that have clear ties to improving equipment reliability, monitoring and overall operations in this sector. These disruptive technologies will continue to drive sector growth and change the way that business is conducted, both on an internal level and as part of larger industry, market and global initiatives.
1) The Internet of Things
The IoT, which ranked third on McKinsey's list, is projected to have an economic impact of $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion in 2025 for related applications. Mining and manufacturing were two key industries that the report cited as benefiting from IoT growth. In the IoT, more devices become connected to the internet and optimized for core networks and data sharing - this includes formerly unconnected mining equipment, which will be linked to the networks through machine maintenance software and data-collecting sensors. Having more connected assets enables efficient use of resources and sensor-centric business models, which cut down on repair and labor costs and promote accountability and quantitative evaluation.
2) Autonomous vehicles
Vehicles that can operate independently or semiautonomously ranked as the sixth-most disruptive technology, with a predicted economic impact of $200 billion to $1.9 trillion in 2025 in sized applications, and could save 30,000-150,000 lives from motor vehicle- and machinery-related fatal accidents. Innovations in this area include self-driving vehicles, but also includes technology like load and strain gauge sensors that can identify the internal workings of a machine.
3) Advanced materials
Placing 10th on the McKinsey's list, advanced materials can improve the functionality of existing technology, machinery and storage systems. It is projected to have an economic impact of $200 billion to $500 billion in 2025. Developing smart materials, that can retain memory or have self-healing capacities, can make machines work with less direct oversight.
4) Advanced oil and gas exploration and recovery
Optimizing oil and gas drilling will be essential to meeting rising global energy demands and squeezing the most product out of every operation. Disruptive technologies in this area placed 11th on McKinsey's list, with a projected $100 billion to $500 billion economic impact in 2025. Improvement in exploration and recovery techniques could enable a supply increase of 3.6 billion to 6.2 billion oil-equivalent barrels of gas and oil annually by 2025. Better remote monitoring, of both machinery and environmental conditions, as well as horizontal drilling and better energy conversion, will contribute to growth in the industry.