Internet of Things (IoT) revolution is changing the centuries-old mining industry. Wireless sensor network (WSN) technology-powered connectivity can be extended to every piece of equipment in the field providing major benefits by improving safety, increasing efficiency, and reducing operational costs. Various parameters need to be monitored, often in real-time, in order to enable efficient decision-making. Below are some of the examples of monitored parameters and systems:
Below are some of the examples of monitored parameters and systems:
- Worker’s vital signs
- Methane gas concentration
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in the air
- Subsidence and soil erosion
- Dump truck load
- Tensile load
- Equipment and vehicle diagnostics
- Alarm and traffic control systems monitoring
- Remote battery management for EVs
- Wireless infrastructure for autonomous vehicles operation
Wireless technologies provide the means for harvesting and transmission of valuable sensor data to the cloud for analysis and visualization. Big Data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can be employed to make the most out of the collected data. The ultimate goal of the digital transformation of mines is to enable a real-time monitoring of operations and quick decision making.
Benefits of Smart Mining
WSN-powered solutions for underground and open-pit mines offer a wide range of benefits, including:
Miners’ safety is a top priority for any mining operation. Methane gas must be monitored constantly to avoid a risk of explosion. During dynamite blasting, the concentrated gases can ignite. Combustion of the suspended particles is another cause of explosion. Human toll can further increase due to the subsequent collapse of mine structures. Both volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and contaminated dust are toxic and pose a major health hazard. Smart sensors monitor air quality 24/7. Machine operator’s fatigue may result in a serious accident. Wearable sensor devices help avoid it by tracking worker’s vital signs and triggering alerts.
Ground subsidence and soil erosion is an ever-present danger in open-cast mining. 3D accelerometer/gyroscope sensors detect minute ground shifts and provide advance warning. Additionally, the soil moisture sensors help determine when the soil moisture reaches certain thresholds, which may indicate shifts underground. Another non-intrusive monitoring method utilizes the ground penetrating radar (GPR).
Operational efficiency and cost reduction
Wireless sensors allow the real-time tracking and usage control of tools and equipment, as well as truck fleet management. Open-cast mining operation employs a fleet of dump trucks and earth-moving equipment. A mechanical failure will not only require an expensive repair, but will result in costly downtime affecting other links in the production chain with mounting losses. Smart connectivity comes to rescue by enabling the remote diagnostics and predictive maintenance of a vehicle, so that the necessary service can be scheduled proactively. Vehicle usage data is analyzed for performance optimization and maximum uptime.
Overloading a dump truck will increase both the mechanical wear of its parts and cause the road surface damage. Wirelessly enabled compact wheel load scales monitor the truck load to make sure it is within the acceptable range. As more autonomous trucks enter the service, a reliable wireless connectivity becomes critical for smooth operations. Furthermore, optimized operations will result in reduced environmental impact.
Improved decision making
Continuous harvesting of sensor data and its seamless integration with SCADA and other control systems is widely used in mining applications. Wireless technologies allow the establishment of remote operations centers that manage multiple mines and rail networks from a single location. Big Data analysis and AI technologies help process the large volumes of sensor data and enable effective real-time decision making.
Partnering with the Expert
A.N. Solutions specializes in developing reliable industrial-grade wireless sensing and control solutions that work in some of the harshest environments such as production equipment, transport, and mines. ATEX compliant solutions and designs, created by A.N. Solutions, are capable of operating in the -85°C to 145°C temperature range, which exceeds standard IP67 requirements. Boasting a large portfolio of reference designs from a variety of industries, A.N. Solutions can develop a future-proof system quickly and cost-effectively.
- A.N. Solutions helps its clients and partners improve their mining operations:
- Integration of legacy systems with wireless sensor networks;
- Optimization of battery life, range vs. signal strength, and other important characteristics, according to the client’s requirements;
- Software fine-tuning for a secure and efficient sensor data acquisition and storage;
- Advanced antenna design for reliable data transmission;
- Rapid product prototyping using 3D modeling;
- Safety and compliance certification assistance;
- And more.
A.N. Solutions offers many advantages for its clients and partners:
- In-depth expertise in all aspects of IoT solutions;
- Thorough understanding of wireless protocols and components in 169MHz up to 5.2GHz radio spectrum;
- Its own product line of rugged Sub-1 GHz and 2.4 GHz wireless components;
- Ecosystem of industry-leading vendors and service providers, incl. Bosch Sensortec, Microchip, Nordic, Qorvo, Sensirion, and more;
- Flexible engagement options and tech support packages;
- Uncompromising "Made in Germany" quality.