One of the founders of Israeli heavy-industry technology start-up Ception says 2023 is set to be a busy period for the company as it steps up efforts to increase penetration into what it sees as potentially lucrative mining and construction markets.
CEO Tal Israel says he is confident Ception can win more mining business over the next 12 months as it builds a reseller and support network, and expands staff numbers (currently 21).
The company could also look to add to US$8 million of private funding raised to date, “to commercialise and scale our solution to the global markets”. The existing funding included seed capital from MoreVC and a grant from the Israel Innovation Authority to commercialise Ception’s core MineCept technology, which is said to be deployed at “a number of projects in different stages with several mining companies in various countries”. Israel fertiliser producer ICL Group’s phosphate mine in the country’s south and transport infrastructure company Netivei Israel are said to be among active users.
A combination of in-field sensing, computer vision and deep learning technologies, MineCept is being used to provide real-time production and asset management information, as well as vehicle control and safety functions.
Israel and Ception chief technology officer Yossi Buda started the company in 2019 after working for nearly 15 years developing advanced driving and autonomous vehicle systems at Israel Aerospace Industries and General Motors.
“MineCept’s management system obtains a comprehensive holistic picture of all the operational and safety parameters and summarises the hazards such as potholes, puddles, rocks, etc, and events at the site for the manager in an accessible way,” the company says.
“Above this level, the artificial intelligence tools provide insights and enable the forecasting of bottlenecks in the different processes and safety failure points before they occur.”
Israel said the technology could help miners overcome increasing safety, efficiency and sustainability hurdles.
“The automation and Industry 4.0 revolutions have brought immense technological advances in edge computing, sensing technologies, artificial intelligence, deep learning, and other fields,” he said. “There is currently a gap of technological solutions in this discipline.
“Some of the solutions are geared towards a high level of automation, but suffer from various barriers, including technological limitations, high prices and regulatory restrictions.
“Conversely, solutions that rely on basic technologies do not offer an adequate response and suffer from serious reliability problems.
“It’s a competitive market, so if they [miners] will not adopt new technology they will stay behind.
“I think most of them are already there in understanding that they should integrate technology to solve or improve their KPIs.”
Israel says the industry is also realising collaboration is key to meeting decarbonisation and other sustainability goals and even original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are working more or less in tandem to advance development of new power and process options.
“We are seeing them [OEMs] more like a potential partner because I think all of them are talking about interoperability,” he said.
“It is just the beginning, but the trend is interoperability and working together.
“I think a good example for that is [work of] the Global Mining Guidelines Group, which is getting different groups to sit at the same table even if we have some aspects where we are competitors.
“Collaboration is the most important trend as we adapt to new technologies.”
Ception’s business development manager Noa Tamir said there was a lot for the company to learn early on to ensure its product was fit for the mining market.
“We knew we were entering a new territory,” she said.
“From the beginning it was very important for us to learn as much as we could from the people with experience.
“We had, maybe, more than a hundred meetings and calls with players all over the world from different positions, from the operations to the more engineering technology people in construction and in mining.
“We really tried to learn as much as we could so we could make the product market fit the best we could with the technologies that we developed at the company.
“We didn’t have all of the knowledge [initially] and I think that’s what makes the product so great because it really is adjusted to the needs of the market.”