Kcell, the country’s leading mobile operator, has embarked on the digital transformation of large industrial facilities in Kazakhstan through the introduction of IT and telecom solutions. Today, the operator is actively implementing private LTE technology (private networks) using various IoT solutions. Together with the largest representatives of the country’s mining sector – Polymetal International and KAZ Minerals – Eurasian Resources Group has also chosen a private network or Private LTE from the mobile operator. The day before, at ERG’s sites in the Kostanay region – SSGPO and Kachary Ore, Kcell expanded the coverage area of the production company’s internal network by installing additional 4G base stations.
It should be noted that Kcell is planning to cover industrial sites in the mining and processing industries with Private LTE/5G networks to improve the extraction and processing of minerals and increase the efficiency of enterprises in general. For example, Kcell was one of the first operators in the CIS and the first in Kazakhstan to deploy a full private LTE network for mining giant KAZ Minerals. The success of the private LTE deployment at the “copper company” enabled the operator to extend the service to other industrial sites in the country, in particular to the factories and deposits of Polymetal International. Today, Eurasian Resources Group is also an active supporter of the use of private networks, with Kcell installing more than 30 base stations in its quarries and launching an internal and isolated network based on LTE technology.
“We launched the first private network in Kazakhstan at Kaz Minerals Group’s Aktogay mine, where the challenge was to create a stable, resilient and secure data environment for mission-critical applications. We deployed 19 base stations that are ready for the transition to 5G. Kcell’s Private LTE enabled the company to reduce downtime of mining vehicles by 50%, significantly reduce repair and maintenance costs of the data network infrastructure, and launch new digital services at the mine. As for ERG’s private network, it is the largest in terms of coverage in the country, connecting 6 companies in three regions at once – Karaganda, Kostanay and Pavlodar. The private LTE network implemented at ERG’s facilities provides a stable data transmission environment for the automated control system of mining and transportation complexes, and increases the overall efficiency of mining equipment by 10%,” said Askhat Uzbekov, Chairman of the Board of Kcell JSC.
Incidentally, today Kcell has installed 34 base stations and deployed a private LTE network at ERG’s facilities, which will enable the company to solve several tasks at once – automating a number of business processes, establishing M2M machine-to-machine communications, implementing data exchange via IoT sensors, Push to Talk closed-circuit radio communications, digital video surveillance, integrating security systems and many others, some of which are planned to be implemented with Kcell’s support. This has enabled the company to launch its own ecosystem, which can be expanded and complemented with new services and tools in the future. In addition, the operator plans to deploy a further 8 base stations at other ERG sites and further expand the manufacturing giant’s private network.
It should be noted that the Sarbaisky open pit is considered to be not only the largest in Kazakhstan, but also one of the largest ore pits in the world in terms of size, volume of rock mass and depth. The Kachary open pit is no less large, with a design depth of over 720 meters. The miners have now reached a depth of 475 meters. By way of comparison, this is the height of the television tower in Almaty’s Koktobe. And it was important for ERG to automate much of the work in such a vast area, where ore is transported by 220-tonne dump trucks – giants the size of two-storey houses. And these behemoths could potentially be controlled remotely by upgrading the current 4G communications technology to 5G.
According to the company’s specialists, the digital transformation and automation of production makes it possible to solve a whole range of problems – from increasing productivity to creating and maintaining a favorable team climate through IoT systems and sensors integrated with private LTE: monitoring the condition of the production site, machinery and equipment, as well as monitoring the health and emotional background of each employee, which can help to distribute the workload and workload properly.
“The installation of base stations at the SSGPO and Kachary Ruda sites is part of ERG’s large-scale quarry digital transformation project. Earlier, together with Kcell, we did a lot of work to build LTE networks at our companies – Shubarkol Komir, Aluminum of Kazakhstan and EEC. As a result, dozens of units of mining vehicles at these companies have a stable connection to corporate information systems. Today, thanks to modern technologies, it is possible to receive accurate information about the work of dumpers and excavators with a click, and thus effectively manage the production process. We started the project in 2019, and this year we have already covered about 216 square kilometers with private LTE networks. For comparison, this is more than the area of cities such as Taraz, Semey and Turkestan. Connecting industrial equipment, machinery and production personnel to our network will allow them to work with data in real time and directly benefit from existing and future digital products,” said Yerken Shnazbayev, Deputy General Director for IT and Digital Transformation at ERG.
A private network, or private LTE, is an independent, closed cellular network that provides a secure and managed means of communication for a specific organization or business. It differs from public mobile networks and offers a number of benefits. These include full control over their private network, including management of bandwidth, security and network configuration; the ability to prioritize and guarantee quality of service for specific applications and devices, which is important for mission-critical operations; optimizing network coverage and reliability, especially in remote or complex environments; and reducing data latency, which is important for real-time applications such as controlling robots and autonomous devices.
“Today we have been able to assess the scope and scale of the work we have been doing for more than five years and we have realized that in today’s world and with the help of new technologies we can delegate the hardest and most dangerous work to machines and equipment, making the process safer and more efficient. We are now actively rolling out 5G in the country and I am sure that we will be able to demonstrate the real benefits and advantages of the fifth-generation network right at the production site. After all, it is the mobile operators that are leading the digital transformation of the large extractive industries, which are very important for Kazakhstan’s economy. The operators have already reached a level where they are not helping us, but we are helping them to reach a new level of digitization and to introduce the elements of Industry 4.0 in various companies and enterprises. I believe that the speed of development of the entire commodity sector depends very much on local expertise, including the ability of mobile operators to implement such projects,” says Dinara Kasymova, Director of the Enterprise Department of Kcell JSC.
As is well known, Industry 4.0 is a term referring to the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by the integration of modern digital technologies into production processes, and has become widely used in the context of the current technological transformation of manufacturing industries.
At the same time, as a pioneer in the deployment of private LTE in Kazakhstan, Kcell believes that demand for private wireless networks will increase significantly with the development of 5G infrastructure. It is pLTE that can become the basis for digital transformation of enterprises, deployment and integration of various digital services and technologies – Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, robotics and process automation in production infrastructure, creation of smart factories, digital twins and many more.
Press Office of Kcell JSC