December 18, 2017

High productivity and low costs through efficient mesh networking

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General Mining Production

In key industries such as mining where operational downtime can be extremely costly, operators need to be able to continuously monitor, manage and control their high value-equipment, as well as vehicle fleets and personnel.

This is according to Teresa Huysamen, Wireless Business Unit manager at Duxbury Networking, the distributor of Rajant Kinetic Mesh networking solutions. Rajant offerings, designed to meet application demands in extreme conditions, are targeted at the mining industry.

“Rajant’s patented Kinetic Mesh networks are ideally suited to the mining industry as they provide fully mobile wireless broadband connectivity that is simple, instantaneous and fail-proof,” she stresses.

“A Kinetic Mesh network is in effect a ‘living’ mesh solution that moves and evolves with a mine’s uniquely mobile connectivity demands. For example, in an open cast mine surveyed, producing 80,000 tons of ore per day, an estimate of the cost of the machinery in operation on any given day is around R 500 million. These high-value assets must be carefully managed to ensure uptime is always optimised, which in turn will maximise production.”

Hysamen says Rajant technology can play a key role in meeting these goals by seamlessly linking the machines to form an ever-moving Kinetic Mesh network.

“Each machine is affixed with a network node – dubbed a BreadCrumb. These small-footprint, lightweight nodes are readily deployed on vehicles, towers, lampposts, drones, buildings, and even personnel. Each BreadCrumb can connect with multiple neighbouring nodes via multiple links and frequencies, providing fully redundant communications throughout the network.

“Through these nodes, and the network they form, mine managers are able to gain real-time information from each asset’s applications on status, efficiency, maintenance needs and more – even as they move around the mine,” she explains.

“From a technical perspective,” she continues, “Rajant Kinetic Mesh networks employ any-node to any-node capabilities to continuously and instantaneously route data via the best available traffic path and frequency – for any number of nodes, all with extremely low overhead.

“In addition, Rajant can communicate with any Wi-Fi or Ethernet-connected device to deliver low-latency, high-throughput data, voice and video applications across the meshed, network.”

Huysamen notes that there are a number of ways in which a Rajant Kinetic Mesh network can assist a mine to reduce expenses and enhance profitability.

“To use the open-cast mine analogy again, the unplanned downtime of one shovel can impact production volumes. Rajant’s network assists operators to remotely monitor and proactively manage maintenance of high-value equipment to minimise such occurrences.

“Unlike time-based preventative maintenance regimes – which often prove to be less-than-effective – running equipment health monitoring applications via a Rajant network on shovels, pumps, loader trucks and other key assets will give operators the opportunity to move to condition-based monitoring,” she says.

“Moreover, by analysing real-time data with analytical engines, mines can often identify new ways to optimise tasks ranging from scheduling to machine movements and processing — all of which are central to greater production output and profitability.”

Turning to mine personnel safety, Huysamen, says a Kinetic Mesh network is able to support a plethora of sensors installed on mobile mining machinery. Many of these sensors have the potential to improve operating discipline, which can contribute to operational safety, minimising the risks faced by personnel on a daily basis.

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