Innovation and Technology

Dean Mackie, Director, Enterprise Applications, Teck Digital Systems (far left) sets the stage for Unearthed Hackathon participants, organizers, and judges, including Shehzad Bharmal, Vice President, North American Operations, Base Metals (far right)

Mining New Ideas at the Unearthed Hackathon

Hackathons have long been used in the software industry to bring together innovators and create new products in a short amount of time. More recently, the hackathon method has gained traction in the mining industry as a way to gather technical experts and tackle challenges in an era of big data.  

In October 2017, students, programmers and mining experts came together in Vancouver, B.C., for 48 hours to create solutions to challenges facing miners like Teck at the Unearthed Hackathon. A team of Teck employees from across our operations, including Allyson Stoll, a Metallurgist from Red Dog Operations and Dave Harrington, a Senior Technical Analyst, Line Creek Operations, provided expert mining industry guidance for participants. 

“There is a whole world of data analysis that opened up to me as an engineer, thanks to the Hackathon,” says Allyson. “I’m in the process of learning to code so I can help implement these types of changes at site.”  

Dave supported a challenge at the event that focused on optimizing the haul cycle of each truck. Thanks to dozens of sensors on haul trucks, Dave and his team are able to create a model to determine the best route and speed for each driver. However, the problem was how to display the data to drivers in real time in a safe and understandable way. 

Unearthed Hackathon participants tackle a challenge.

“Haul trucks carry up to 400 tonnes of material per cycle, so getting performance right can have big benefits for efficiency and cost reduction,” says Dave. “We have the data, but it was through the Hackathon that we began to unlock its potential.”

Teck’s participation in the Hackathon is one of the many ways we are focused on building a culture of innovation and technology across our sites. Moving forward, Teck is evaluating the winning project ideas and looking for opportunities to implement these innovations.