Working with iGATE Patni, Rio Tinto has opened a state-of-the-art innovation center in Pune, India, to support global growth and development of Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future program. In the first partnership of its kind in the mining industry, over the next five years iGATE Patni will provide Rio Tinto with engineering research and development services, including industrial automation and control, software and embedded design and development, and general engineering services.

The Rio Tinto Innovation Center (RTIC) will build on the work of Rio Tinto’s established Centers of Excellence in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom to deliver the technologies they have developed to Rio Tinto operations across the globe. Rio Tinto Head of Innovation John McGagh, Rio Tinto India Managing Director Nik Senapati, iGATE Patni CEO Phaneesh Murthy and iGATE Patni Executive Vice President and Head of Product Engineering Services Satish Joshi, formally opened the RTIC at an inauguration ceremony in Pune recently.

RTIC will provide engineering skills to help drive innovation through to implementation at an operational level. It will take innovation ideas that have been developed by the Rio Tinto centers and trialed in a specific mine or business unit, and modify the technology for use with other products, or in different regions.

“We are truly delighted that Rio Tinto has chosen iGATE Patni as its exclusive partner for this landmark innovation engagement,” said Murthy. “I am particularly pleased that our capabilities in product engineering services have gained increased acceptance among global companies to bring about innovation in their business and this partnership is an important step in our journey to deliver high-impact business outcomes. We have geared to partnering with Rio Tinto in achieving its vision of providing unprecedented automation in mining.”

“Launching this center with iGATE Patni marks an important step in the rollout of our Mine of the Future program and will help create business value in the mining industry,” said McGagh. “This partnership will enable us to move our innovations from concept stage to reality more efficiently through the work of a dedicated team of specialized engineers. iGATE Patni’s credentials and business capability fit our need for a strong outcomes-driven innovation partner.

“RTIC will allow us to take a specific technology developed at one of our Centers of Excellence, such as the mine automation system currently in use at our Pilbara iron ore operations in Western Australia, and adapt it for broader application across our network of mines,” said McGagh.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with the development of the next generation mining technology,” said Joshi. “Technology being the key to realize Rio Tinto’s vision of enabling safe, productive and environment-friendly mining, we are eager to cross-leverage our experience in engineering and technology deployment across diverse fields such as industrial automation, logistics, imaging and human factors designs.”

“Rio Tinto’s relationship with India extends back to the 1930s and will be increasingly important to our business. Our enduring relationship with India will be strengthened through our collaboration with iGATE Patni. This partnership is further demonstration of our long-term commitment to India and represents a great opportunity to provide world-class intellectual and technological capacity for the mining sector in India,” said Senapati. “Rio Tinto’s commitment to research and development plays a key role in the Mine of the Future program. Rio Tinto has five Center of Excellence, with each research center working in partnership with leading universities, specializing in addressing key challenges facing the industry.”

RTIC will help bring on next-generation automated technologies for mining operations, creating greater operational efficiency, lower production costs and improved health, safety and environmental performance. It will have some 300 employees, mainly skilled engineers, addressing the diverse and changing technological demands from across Rio Tinto operations and will focus on disciplines such as image processing, advanced data mining and analytics, automation and control systems, design and logistics.