Data & Communication Networks for Tunnels
The demand to better manage tunnelling activities has seen the requirement for high quality connectivity increase rapidly over the past two decades. Over this period MST has been developing the communication backbones to support this demand, based on the general industry trend to IP based networks. Hence MST developed its Wi-Fi/Ethernet platform for tunnels and mines to realize the benefits of the convergence of these digital technologies.
The result is our ImPact Network and associated applications to provide a reliable, mobile and high bandwidth data communications structure that withstands the hostile underground environment.
Importantly, the network installed to provide this high bandwidth connectivity also allows for voice communication via our VoIP MinePhone & FUSION Voice or any Wi-Fi enabled phone App.
MST’s ImPact tunnel communication system converges all of the tunnel contractor’s data and communication requirements onto a single, easily maintained backbone. This high bandwidth network supports the large data requirements of modern tunnels, in a single IEEE 802.11 compliant data highway. This open connectivity allows data hungry applications such as video, RFID Tracking, remote control, automation systems & guidance systems to be supported by a single network.
Our design focus on the ability of our infrastructure to be quickly and simply deployed and maintained by non-expert personnel is what our customers most appreciate. Our systems are particularly well recognised for their ability to automatically self-configure new installations or replacement equipment.
This is best represented by a core component of the network, our NS50 Wireless Network Switch (pictured above). The NS50 brings together two Wi-Fi Access Point radios, four 1 Gb fibre optic switches, and four PoE ports into a single, small housing that operates from 10-48 volts DC. Traditionally this type of flexibility and switching power would have required several devices installed in a large cabinet, with 110 volt or 240 volt AC power supplied to every cabinet. This, obviously, is totally impractical for use in the underground mine environment as the total cost of ownership would quickly add up. Our ImPact network and devices eliminate or greatly reduce these issues and provide a very cost effective way to take your WLAN IP network underground.
See below for more on Data Communication solutions or contact us for more information.
- MST Tunnelling Solutions Overview
- ImPact Network Infrastructure Overview
- ImPact Communication Appliance (ICA)
- NS50 Network Switch Data Sheet
- WAP Data Sheet
Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP)
Apart from providing mobile voice communications in the tunnel, and tracking of people and equipment, the network established for these requirements can also support our VIP System.
VIP is based on installing a Data Logger/Wi-Fi Bridge module onto TBM’s, Road Headers, locomotives, trucks, or loaders, to log and stream in real-time critical parameters to better manage the use and maintenance of these machines. Depending what on-board diagnostics is installed on these machines, the VIP unit simply interfaces to those outputs, logs them, and streams them via the ImPact Digital Network to the surface whenever in range of an access point. This data can be such things as:
- TBM and Roadheader operating parameters
- Motor temperature, bearing vibration monitors, etc .
- Load data in loaders & trains.
- Gas Sensor data, in fact data from all types of sensors. transducers and IoT devices
More relevant to delivering value to the tunnelling operation, this basic data can be analysed and reports created to quickly identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies in the tunnelling system.
For more information on VIP please refer to:
Wireless Repeater Node (WRN)
The WRN is the missing link in the communications industry’s arsenal. Fully developed by MST, with patent pending, the WRN the world’s lightest, most portable, most reliable and most cost effective Mobile, Self-meshing Access Point. Intended for the ad-hoc extension of a the existing Wi-Fi network into the most hazardous and dynamic areas (such as TBMs). The WRN ensures connectivity with the need for cabling or fibre.
- Extends existing Wi-Fi network, maximising data retrieval and leveraging IoT
- Wireless Meshing allows full Wi-Fi connectivity without any power or data cables
- Portable and light weight with multiple mounting and antenna options for unprecedented flexibility of use
- Intrinsically Safe
- Lachlan Wheel ensures simple, safe battery change out
- Dual battery system allows “Hot Swapping” of batteries and no downtime!
Benefits of VoIP
Users can make and receive person-to-person VoIP phone calls to communicate safety, production or technical information and instructions. This capability can be between personnel underground and between underground mine personnel and personnel anywhere around the world. The technology does not have the limitation experienced by two-way radio of a finite number of channels, and so facilitates any number of person-to-person calls at the same time.
However it still offers Push to Talk (PTT) functionality like standard radio system for group calls on up to 24 channels. Plus, unlike traditional radio systems, it does not require frequency licensing, as it uses the free 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band.
Additionally, the MinePhone acts like a RFID tag, in that a MinePhones proximity to underground access points allows it’s location to be determined, and so enables personnel tracking in underground mines for the purpose of safety and productivity. Additionally, the MinePhone can remotely access the tracking data on the central server and undertake searches for assets or people.
FUSION Voice is a unique platform, that brings together Wi-Fi based VoIP communications with traditional UHF or VHF radio systems onto a single, vehicle mounted device. Built on proven hardware (the Tait UnifyVehicle platform), FUSION Voice can operate on any 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, and is optimised for roaming on the MST IMPACT software network.
The unit offers something that has been missing from the market as more mines and tunnels look to replace leaky feeder with Wi-Fi networks, with FUSION Voice being a VoIP equivalent of a traditional mobile radio.
FUSION Voice is easy to use, easy to install and power up, and has a 6m cable for mounting the control head, housing a loud 3W built-in speaker. The ruggedised form factor is fit for purpose in underground conditions. A Wi-Fi antenna is included and mounted on top of the vehicle to extend coverage. Built on proven hardware, FUSION Voice can operate on any 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network, and is specifically optimised for roaming on the MST IMPACT software network, supporting central configuration. The same unit can then be switched to operate on most UHF or VHF radio systems.
FUSION Voice adds to MST’s unified communications portfolio to allow the benefits of IP based communications to be readily available to the underground industry.
See below for more on FUSION Voice, VoIP and Leaky Feeder Radio solutions, or contact us for more information.