Voice Communications in Underground Hard Rock Mining
Voice Communication is a fundamental element of productivity and safety in mining and MST offers three main solutions:
- Leaky Feeder Radio for underground mines and tunnels.
- Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
- FUSION Voice: dedicated in-vehicle Wi-Fi push-to-talk
- FUSION Link: network bridging via radio
MST’s VDV Leaky Feeder technology is widely used, with radios from Motorola, Tait, and others, but with more digital networks being installed in underground mines the use of our VoIP MinePhones is growing. Sometimes starting with our MP71 MinePhone being used to complement an existing leaky feeder radio system, with the VoIP MinePhones providing private communications between personnel.
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.
FUSION Link is network bridge between ethernet and Wi-Fi that allows seamless access to device data during operations. FUSION Link provides bespoke software that extends the Wi-Fi capabilities of MST’s FUSION platform, enabling seamless bridging of a local vehicle network with corporate network, without the need to install and manage dedicated hardware. This solution works best for underground construction and mining customers, where vehicles are in continuous use across the day, and connectivity options other than Wi-Fi (e.g. LTE) may not be an option.
The FUSION platform is built on MST’s FUSION Voice head unit – proven hardware (the Tait
UnifyVehicle platform) which incorporates a Wi-Fi radio and external antenna and is optimised for roaming on the MST IMPACT software network. The combination of FUSION Voice and FUSION Link effectively fills the gap in digital communications where hybrid communication technologies exist on a work site. Additionally, it others far more features
above traditional radio units, including the ability to operate in either Wi-Fi coverage areas or radio coverage areas by the simple flick of a switch.
See below for more on FUSION Voice, FUSION Link, VoIP and Leaky Feeder Radio solutions, or contact us for more information.