Wireless Telemetry in Underground Coal Mining
The ability to transmit data reliably, remotely and wirelessly measure geotechnical and environmental data, or to remotely control blasting offer significant benefits to safety and productivity. MST’s communication data highway, combined with smart end devices, allow a range of monitoring and remote control applications to be undertaken by a mine operator to improve efficiency in a number of key areas, such as ventilation, vehicle management, reliable SCADA data links, pumping and safety systems.
Fleet Intelligence Network (FIN)
The FIN System is based on installing a VIP Data Logger / Wi-Fi Bridge module on mining equipment, such as continuous miners & shuttle to log, and stream in real-time, critical parameters to better manage the use and maintenance of that piece of equipment. Depending what on-board diagnostics is installed the VIP unit simply interfaces to the required outputs, logs them, and streams the data via the ImPact Digital Network to the server whenever in range of an underground access point. This data can be such things as:
- Motor parameters
- Tramming mode
More relevant to delivering value to the mine, this basic data can be analysed and reports created to quickly identify bottlenecks or in efficiencies in the mining system. An example being accurately recording cycle times for shuttle car trips to the boot end form the continuous miner, and raising alerts should any cycle go outside of pre-determined averages.
MST makes this data available to any other in-house or third party application the mine would like to use, allowing the management and maintenance processes to be further enhanced.
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Geotechnical and Environmental Monitoring
Geotechnical monitoring in mining can determine and predict the stability of the surrounding rock strata. Environmental monitoring consists of the measurement of parameters like the concentration of explosive or toxic gases, temperature and airflow. This information is key to ensuring the safety of personnel and equipment, and enabling pro-active production planning.
Because the sensors acquiring this data are typically not close to existing power or data transmission infrastructure, a Wireless Sensor Network is an attractive and often only feasible means of data transfer. An example to the right shows MST’s Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU) streaming geotech data from a strain gauge in an underground mine.
MST’s Wireless Sensor Network extends from any existing underground IP network to connect and integrate sensors from any manufacturer into a single sensor network. This provides a single point for accessing all sensor data, and eliminates the need for multiple vendor specific data networks, thereby reducing the complexity and capital and maintenance costs of the required infrastructure.
This application represents an example of the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) in mining. IoT can extend to many types of discreet sensors forming a local mesh network to links back to a mine’s main underground data network.
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