Squeezing a GPS device for more

‘Innovation’ is a word used all too frequently. As buzzwords go, their true meaning has been diluted through overuse in the attempt for companies to sound like they are more than who they are or what they offer.

Tesla is a great case study for this. People may consider Tesla as one of the most innovative companies of our time. However, if you look closely at the core of their product, it is not innovative, but rather just a very smart use of very old technology, lithium-ion batteries.

A brief history of electric vehicles

Saying that electric vehicles had a rough start would be an understatement. In the early 1900s when the world of automobiles was on the rise, companies explored many options of how an engine will work. Electric cars gained popularity; however, they came at a premium compared to their gas-guzzling counterparts. Hybrid cars and steam-powered engine vehicles we’re also being explored, each offered a fighting chance. With all the innovation happening one contender rose from the rest, and it was gas. The final nail in the coffin came from Henry Ford’s Model-T, which was priced at $650 compared to its electric counterpart’s wallet shaking $1 750, and thus the possibility of electric vehicles went up in flames.

Tesla changing the game

In order to be feasible electric cars needed to be affordable for consumers and developing a new battery technology was not the solution; cue lithium-ion batteries. Tesla realized that instead of creating a completely new battery the answer was right in front of them: lithium-ion batteries. These were reliable, stored their charge well, and were relatively affordable. They decided to strap a bunch of them together to form a larger battery, enough to power an electric car (6 831 to be precise). By doing this, Tesla was able to provide consumers with an electric car that is both reliable and relatively affordable, compared to their gas counterparts.

The problem with mine technology

When looking at mining technology one can draw many similarities to the electric car story. Because the market is in its relative infancy, hardware is expensive. Many suppliers are charging clients high project costs due to hardware development and high production cost. This approach also increases project implementation times and often ties a client into a single provider for a long period of time. There has to be a better way to do this.

Relooking at what a GPS device can do

At face value, a GPS device is relatively simple; it connects with satellites, continuously sending GPS coordinates of its location to the server. Could we use this data to do more? On deeper inspection of this technology AVA realized that when strung together and with some additional lines of code, this simple GPS data could provide so much more value than just tracking.

By stringing multiple devices together and by leveraging proximity to each other, these devices can deliver the same amount of information as their expensive counterparts. Possibly disrupting the way, the category operates.

It was also an added bonus that most mines already have GPS devices on most of their assets, driving down setup costs and implementation times.

This shift in the category not only questions how the large operators select their technology but also provides accessibility for smaller operations that could not traditionally afford the larger more expensive devices.

Talk the talk AND walk the walk

Tech companies should tread lightly when it comes to calling a solution innovative. It should never be the purpose of why you do business but rather,  let the philosophy of innovation drive creative thinking that produces results.

As mentioned above, in mining we are seeing adaptation as a form of innovation. We’re building on existing tech and infrastructure instead of reinventing the wheel and calling it innovative.