ABB Wireless

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Minding the mines

Nothing says happy customer quite like repeat purchases. Recently, ABB Tropos Wireless Communication Systems installed a wireless mesh network at PotashCorp – White Springs’ 100,000-acre phosphate mine in White Springs, FL. A previously deployed Tropos network is being used to improve safety and productivity at PotashCorp – Aurora. Repeat purchase, happy customer.

Wireless communication networks are not usually the first things that come to mind when people think about open pit mines. They generally envision large pieces of equipment unearthing and moving huge quantities of ore, rock, phosphates and other minerals. However, there’s a largely unseen but critical component of mine operations – digital technology, including communication networks, that helps keep mine operations efficient and safe.

Tropos wireless mesh router mounted on a PotashCorp shovel
A large piece of mining equipment...and a Tropos mesh router!
Photo courtesy of PotashCorp

What does this digital technology do? Here are some examples of applications enabled by robust, high throughput, low latency networks:
  • Video monitoring: Real-time, remote video allows for analysis of the amount of material being mined and aids operations in deploying trucks for transporting material from the pit to the processing plant. Also, the ability to monitor real-time video remotely enables managers to ensure that safety protocols are being followed.
  • Remote performance monitoring: The communication network quickly transports telemetry data from mining and process equipment, such as draglines and other in-pit equipment, to the facility’s operations center in real time. This allows mine operators to gather critical operational data in order to recommend scheduled equipment maintenance - vastly increasing efficiency, equipment uptime and worker safety.
  • Mineral analysis data: Fast access to mineral (phosphate, in the case of PotashCorp – White Springs and PotashCorp – Aurora) analysis data provides visibility into trends related to production issues enabling proactively problem resolution.
In the case of PotashCorp – White Springs and PotashCorp – Aurora, plant managers wanted to achieve near real-time access to data and video from the mining pit, in the pit trailer and the processing plants, in order to improve operational efficiency and safety. Their Tropos wireless mesh networks enabled them to achieve their goals.

Bert Williams