Technologies that enable digitisation and automation are being implemented on a large scale across mining for their ability to reduce costs, improve business productivity and safety. McKinsey estimates that digital innovation in the mining industry worldwide will be worth $370 billion per year by 2025. This rapid uptake of digital technologies is putting pressure on the wireless network on sites to keep up.
The challenges to connectivity encountered on a mine site are unique. A mine site is remote, machinery is constantly moving and changing direction, and the pit terrain is ever-changing. There is also the demand for mountains of mission-critical, real-time data that require massive data throughput and reliable connection to make it all run according to plan. All these elements combined, inhibit traditional wireless network solutions.
Working with partners that understand the unique challenges of outdoor environments is key to ensuring the network technology you choose is the most effective solution to service the needs of your operation. Implementing a solution that fails to optimise the benefits of digital tools could create inefficiency, increase expenditure, disrupt business continuity, and result in failed ROI.
3D-P was founded by a team of mining and positioning technology experts and has been creating and bringing reliable wireless communication to the most challenging industrial environments around the world since 1996. In their quest to solve unique on-site network challenges, 3D-P has developed technology that is built for the purpose of overcoming some common network frustrations on-site:
Equipment Shadowing in One Direction
Traditional LTE antenna configurations typically have two antennas available, both are physically capable of receiving, but only one is physically capable of transmitting. So connectivity can be lost on a machine’s journey and it can struggle to get data out when the transmitting antenna is shadowed by a mine face. The 3D-P Hybrid LTE/InstaMesh® Osprey has dual transmitting and receiving capabilities that allow both antennas on your mobile equipment to transmit and receive data, eliminating problematic shadowing in one direction that causes loss of connectivity and critical data.
Low Output Capacity
An LTE network achieves wide area coverage but is inherently designed for public downstream access. It lacks the upstream speeds industrial operations need and as a fixed infrastructure, was not designed to facilitate moving and mobile devices.
The hybrid LTE/InstaMesh® Osprey can provide your mine with a dynamic solution that has the ability to utilise technology such as Rajant’s InstaMesh. Mesh network offers high-performance connectivity in active areas while leveraging an LTE or Wi-Fi network throughout the rest of the mine. The device will make a decision to switch over to the connection that has the best quality in real-time, packet by packet. This represents coverage over your site and reduces human intervention, enabling you to experience the full benefits of your digital application.
Costly Performance Problem Solving
When network performance issues arise, machine downtime and lost time in the field become costly exercises. Especially when networks are being analysed and tested blindly. The 3D-P NPAT suite is a built-in accurate and dynamic network and performance analysis tool available with the Osprey product line. This tool allows continuous monitoring of your wireless network performance, enabling visualisation of blind spots or areas of poor network performance that would never be seen in traditional infrastructure-based network monitors. So instead of blindly attending to performance issues, you can proactively solve problems as your environment evolves – a critical feature on-site as the nature of topology or environment changes.
Rigid and Costly Implementation
Changing or deploying new technology can be a resource-draining undertaking when infrastructure is expensive and rigid in its application.
The 3D-P devices can be integrated into an existing network (LTE or Mesh). They are fully customisable in their functionality, throughput, and how the data is transmitted and received. The Osprey can be configured as LTE only or have the Hybrid Mesh technology added. Data logging capabilities can also be added if machine health is required.
The rugged hardware of 3D-P devices is designed for direct mount on heavy equipment and can be mounted internally or externally without the need to fit enclosures – saving valuable time and money during implementation. They boast impressive specs that include IP67 rating, shock rating to 20g, vibration ratings to 10g, and temperature ratings of -40 degrees Celcius up to 70 degrees Celcius.
The 3D-P Osprey’s flexible integration along with its rugged and robust hardware adds up to a low-cost implementation.
Data Loss or Congestion
Most miners use high-precision GPS corrections to get pinpoint accuracy for digging and drilling out in pits. Traditionally, this data is sent to every single part of the network (even fleet that does not require this HPGPS data or is offline) and this can cause unnecessary data congestion. To solve this issue 3D-P created an application called Publish Subscribe (PubSub) which records data and only transmits it to the fleet that is active and requires this data. This results in an automated system that minimises unnecessary data traversing the network – reducing data loss and/or congestion.
The challenges for a wireless network on-site are unique, and to solve these unique problems, you need products that are designed with these challenges in mind and a partner that understands the equipment and the environment.
NB Industries have been working with the installation and deployment of digital technology on mine sites since 2016. For over 15 years, they have been servicing heavy industry and the team possesses a unique understanding of how technology functions within a harsh Australian mining application.
Together, 3D-P and NB Industries are combining their niche expertise to implement purpose-built solutions designed around each site’s environmental, application, and technology requirements.
To learn more about how 3D-P and NBI can increase your network capabilities, contact us today.