The 3 Sectors You Need to Improve to Achieve Smart Mine Status

We all know that reducing costs while increasing productivity are sure ways to increase margins, especially in highly volatile markets. Smart mining is a clear path to maximizing your yield, with process automation, data collection and increased site safety as just a few of the benefits. The move toward smart mining is inevitable and advantageous. And your competition has already started. 

Northwest Towers specializes in dreaming up, implementing, and supporting the wireless network infrastructure that makes smart mining possible. We deploy stable and well-planned networks that offer high bandwidth where needed and can scale according to the growth of your mining operation. 

Having a dependable, robust wireless network is the foundation of a modern smart mine. Northwest Towers has helped operations all over the world cut costs, maximize information flow, increase safety, and increase value to shareholders. Keep these three crucial areas in mind when considering wireless network infrastructure for your smart mine operation.

1. Automation of Mining Systems 

Automating tasks and systems can increase efficiency and reduce resource consumption by leaps and bounds

Consider Automated Mining Vehicles. Already, Rio Tinto has multiple mines that run many dozens of driverless trucks to haul ore in open pit operations 24 hours a day. The boost to safety and productivity automating vehicles provides is almost incalculable. 

These vehicles are outfitted with multiple systems that allow them to operate safely around the clock, including Multi-Functional Collision Avoidance, Obstacle Detection, Manual Interaction Systems, and Preventive Maintenance Systems. 

These systems allow you to monitor your fleet in real-time, allowing for increased productivity. This productivity comes with the cost of having a capable, stable wireless mesh network that you can depend on. 

2. Maximize Data Flow and Consolidate Critical Controls of Smart Mining Operations

One of the biggest advantages of automating your mining operations is the ability to capture, collect, and store data on every facet of your critical systems in real-time. 

Having eyes on the situation no longer means an hours-long foray into potentially dangerous production areas. Now, you can have eyes on every aspect of your mine from another continent.

The sheer scale of data capture smart mining practices allow lends itself to the consolidation of controls to remote (or local) operator rooms, instead of in-vehicle or on-site. It also means being able to see issues before they arise, and allow for planning to mitigate these issues before they ever get a chance to see the light of day.

3. Increased Safety

There are so many ways that smart mining can facilitate a safer work environment. By automating fleets and pulling operators out of the production areas, the exposure of personnel to dangerous scenarios is mitigated dramatically. 

Having real-time access to fleet preventive maintenance systems can prevent equipment failures that can be dangerous to personnel and equipment.

Smart mining is able to support systems only dreamed of a few years ago. Read our “Fantasy Case Study” below about how connected drone applications can help mine safety supervisors to detect issues, collect data, and expand the range of their wireless mesh network.

Use Case Study: Wireless Mesh and Connected Drone Applications

One of the areas that have seen very little practical use so far, but promises to be incredibly advantageous once common is connected drone applications. Drones are quickly becoming more capable of impressive payloads and extended battery life making them the ideal proxy for quick response data gathering.

Wireless mesh networks are data communications networks where every radio in the network is actively extending and strengthening the network reach. If all the trucks in an open-pit mine are outfitted with a radio, they are capable of extending the reach of the mesh network as long as they can see another mesh radio. 

Using this wireless mesh network connectivity, it is possible to send drones outfitted with very small radios, much like Rajant’s DX2 line, to quickly check out issues as they arise in the pit.

There are a lot of advantageous things that happen when that mesh connected drone is sent into the production environment. Here are some practical drone applications in mining:

  • The drone is actively extending the wireless mesh network – providing a potential link for other mesh connected equipment to link to.
  • Because drones fly, they can bypass all traditional transportation pitfalls and can access an “as the crow flies” path to any desired destination.
  • They can avoid almost all mine hazards with ease.
  • They offer a live feed of high definition optics of your choice including thermal imaging and 3D imaging solutions
  • They can be used for a wide variety of reconnaissance for edge detection applications.
  • They can be used to check on potentially dangerous situations, like clearing a blast.

Wrapping up

A network infrastructure with future growth already in mind allows your operation to grow and change responsively with the ever changing topology and objectives of your operation. Contact us today to set up a blue sky session. Experience our expertise first hand as we learn how to best move your operations into the future.