The mining industry is facing a new challenge. There is a global increase in demand for commodities driven by the developing countries. At the same time easy access to high grade ore is decreasing. Increasing the level of automation and improving operational performance is a key to meet these challenges.
One important step towards a more automated mine is tracking of material and equipment underground. Knowing the location of assets is crucial both from a safety and operational point-of-view. Tracking requires a robust and agile wireless infrastructure that can sustain the harsh radio environment in a mine.
The tracking application will improve the personnel safety, enhance the plant security and improve the productivity. Time spent on looking for assets can be reduced, minimizing production disruptions and delays during major turnarounds, emergencies and new construction projects. Traditional wired networks are poorly suited for reaching all the corridors of an intricate, multilayered mine network whereas a wireless solution based on WLAN and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) offers good coverage, mobility, freedom from cables, and enough bandwidth to for mining operations to run smoothly and be able to recover from emergencies. Furthermore, by using wireless technologies mission-critical video feeds can be delivered to the control room or other areas in a flexible way that is impossible with current wired plants.
The main objectives of this project can be summarized as follows:
- Develop a framework for reliable wireless infrastructure based on WLAN and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) in underground mines.
- Real-time tracking of underground personnel in to improve their safety.
- Monitoring equipment locations and operation status to improve productivity and reduce the risk of fatal collisions between autonomous vehicles etc.