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IoT enabled Logistics control tower enhances supply chain efficiency for Hindustan Zinc

The TAT for truck movements from the plant to the smelter has halved, reducing the truck movement and thus the fuel cost has also been curtailed

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Hindustan Zinc (HZL), a subsidiary of Vedanta Resource Plc, India’s largest and the world’s second largest zinc-lead miner is committed to embracing technology. HZL is well on its way to create the mines of the future. The company is adopting technologies for better resource consumption to gain enhanced metal recovery by digitising the beneficiation and melting process. According to the company, digitisation, innovation and use of disruptive technologies will improve the ore to metal recovery ratio from 81 per cent to 90 per cent in the next three years.

The CEO of HZL, Sunil Duggal, in the annual report of 2018-19 states, digital transformation of mines is a business imperative, with safety being the key driver. Improving safety, productivity, maximising Operational Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and centralised monitoring are key pillars of the digital mine program being currently pursued. Sindesar Khurd mine is leading the digitalisation journey and the target is to bring all the other mining operations to the same level. An integrated collaboration centre at Udaipur is under development to give a real-time view of all operations, including mining, milling, smelting and other functions. Embracing the digital way of working will make operations more productive and sustainable.

Logistics control tower for better logistics operations

As a part of the efforts to provide real-time visibility and reduce logistics costs, the HZL has also completed project ‘Sarathi’. It optimises end-to-end logistic value chain via real-time movement- tracking of key input and intermediate materials being dealt with at the three mines and equal amount of smelters located at different locations. It also includes the material handling at the Kandla and Mundra ports. The system is live across all legs of motion (plant, mines, smelters, ports, customers). The tower has been operational since the last nine months. Overall there is one control tower at each of the mines and smelter locations and one big central control tower at the HQ in Udaipur. It has 42 screens tracking the movements across all locations. The Integrated Transport Management Solution has been designed by TCS. The driver having a pre-registered slip in the ITMS can automatically move from the mine gate, which is unmanned. Similarly, if there are no alerts generated during the trip or even if they are, but have been resolved and have a go ahead from all the stakeholders, the truck gets an automatic entry at the smelter location.

Scale of truck movements

The ore is mined and a concentrate is being prepared for further processing at smelters. The concentrate material is then transported to a different location for smelting. “On a daily basis, over 4400 tonnes of concentrate is moved from the mines to the smelting locations across the state. Meanwhile, the ore and cathodes are also exchanged between various HZL locations, when required. There are about 300 coal filled trucks moving from the Kandla port to the HZL plant on a daily basis,” informs Rohit Sarda, General Manager, Finance, Hindustan Zinc Limited (Vedanta Resource Plc). Moreover, the end products are also transported from the smelting locations to the customers. Daily, there are over 4000 truck movements happening across locations for HZL.

“Ensuring 100 percent safety and compliances across all the vehicles become more complex as the number of vehicles, trips, and transporters increase. This is where FarEye’s Digital Control Tower (DCT) comes in. From monitoring and managing KPIs, running distributed exception handling, providing real-time visibility, to reducing logistics costs, DCT has empowered Hindustan Zinc to completely transform its logistics operations.” says Suryansh Jalan, President, FarEye Transportation.

Sharad Gargiya, Chief Commercial Officer at Hindustan Zinc Limited, comments, “HZL, through the logistics control tower, will control over more than 30,000 trips every month with zero manual intervention, thus, enhancing the efficiency of our supply chain and operations. Its machine learning capabilities have been generating accurate ETAs for Hindustan Zinc’s customers. It also makes planning efficient routes easier.”

Disjointed systems was also a major concern for HZL. Due to lack of interoperability between solutions, different systems had to be accessed for managing and checking different kinds of information.

Logistics control tower results in rule based truck movements

The truck trips hitherto couldn’t be managed to the level of historical traceability. The authorities were in the dark even if there are aberrations in the routes taken by specific trucks. The GPS was operational since 2015, but it didn’t had features to define rules in terms of routes, exception handling and resolution plan. Even if it is resolved over an email, then it didnt had an audit trail. “There were no features to analyse the drivers, transport provider, routes taken by the drivers, unauthorised stoppages, trips and route diversions, etc,” says Sarda.

After implementing the control tower, over 75 rule based exceptions have been devised. In case of any breach of rules by the truck, an alert will go to the driver, the transport provider, the security person at the loading location, the central vigilance team – only if the exception has not been resolved at the subsequent level. The security person at the loading location will not allow the truck to enter unless the exception is resolved. The workflow is closed and only then, the truck gets an official entry.

FarEye’s platform leverages IoT devices

viz – GPS, RFID, and Digital Locks technologies to drive actionable analytics around HZL’s stakeholder and vehicle performances to identify bottlenecks and improve upon them. This platform

also integrates disparate systems like the Transport Management System (TMS) and the Core SAP ERP system. This digital control tower orchestrates data flow and drives automated decision making with regards to operational execution.

As far as the hardware is concerned the company has used telematics, immobilisers, tablets, video wall and monitors to build the digital control tower.

Connectivity on the road and in remote areas is a big issue. FarEye solved the problem by using a mix of IoT devices, SIM cards, and GPS devices. Location data (received from GPS devices and SIM triangulation) is fed into FarEye’s machine learning platform. It then predicts the estimated time of arrival in long-haul movements by learning the delays along the route including tolls and terrains.

The future plan is to integrate AI capabilities in the tower.


If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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