WWAT allows operators to receive instant notification of any sensor or equipment events. Control of maintenance personnel can automatically be informed about the problem and plan effectively for the corrective task. Small wonder, it has become a reference for sound water management in mines.
It is hard to imagine how mines, typically located in remote sites, would cope without Wireless Wide Area Telemetry (WWAT), considering that they are under increased pressure to manage water in their operations better. Regulators – in South Africa’s case, the Department of Mineral Resources – have become more stringent on how excess and wastewater is managed. Coupled with this is the need to manage water for their consumption and production requirements better. Consequently, there is no doubt that, through facilitating wireless communication between Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU) and Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition Systems (SCADA), significantly, WWAT has alleviated this burden for operators.
The reference point for sound water management
In an interview with African Mining Brief, Johan Hoolsema, the managing director of Expert System Solutions, calls WWAT the reference point for sound water management. A supplier of WWAT solutions, ESS has installed integrated telemetry solutions for mining operations as well as other industries in Southern Africa and witnessed the changes it brought to water management.
Underlining the relevance of WWAT, Hoolsema says, “WWAT allows operators to receive instant notification of any sensor or equipment events. Control of maintenance personnel can automatically be informed about the problem and plan effectively for the corrective task. Additionally, remote site monitoring and control can be enabled via the internet with a secure password log-in facility for easy configuration and management.”
What WWAT brings?
Based on feedback from clients, Hoolsema highlights key areas where telemetry has changed the game in water management – hitherto an exercise that has been a drag and drain on a mine’s overstrained resources. Particularly, he singles out preventative maintenance, operational savings, improved planning, better water quality monitoring and level monitoring, as well as reduced insurance premiums and safety risks.
- Preventative maintenance
“The user can monitor and control RTUs remotely, thereby reducing call outs to site and enabling the maintenance team to prepare in the event that a call out does become necessary. The early warning of sudden changes (by means of water leak detection and early fault detection) will inform maintenance staff before problems escalate. This decreases the occurrence of electricity and water supply disruptions. Any discrepancy in water volume and pressure that goes in and out would indicate a possible pipeline leakage, elaborates Hoolsema.
- Operational savings
Through facilitating preventative maintenance of plants, reducing water and electricity outages, telemetry can bring significant operational costs savings.
- Optimal water supply through improved planning
When a plant is in a good condition, there is optimal water supply for various processes. Hence, equipped with WWAT equipment, operators can be able to know whether the level is falling so that refilling can be scheduled, says Hoolsema.
- Better water quality and level monitoring
Through telemetry, the level of the quality of water for consumption and production in mines can be monitored for PH, level of chlorine amongst others.
Furthermore, as part of the terms of their operating licences, mines are obliged to manage waste and excess water soundly. Through telemetry, the level of water in dams can be monitored.
- Reduced insurance premiums and safety risks, and water loss
WWAT helps mines reduce to risk insurance and safety risks, as well as through control of water loss.
Key factors in design
Without a doubt, telemetry brings incredible benefits when used in water management. However, it is worth noting that every mine site has unique conditions, Hoolsema points out. In general, he stresses, key factors that are considered in the design of a WWAT include: environmental conditions and phenomena (such as severe lightning), the shortage of skilled personnel to operate the equipment and frustrations arising from the vulnerability of cable systems (aging, cable theft, damage and lightning).”
He continues,” At the end of the day, while this may sound like a cliché, ease of maintenance, reliability, simplicity of operation and cost effectiveness are key in a WWAT.”
ESS’s WWAT tool, the ESS-RTU (Remote Terminal Unit), enables authentication and acknowledgements at every level of the monitor and control process. It ensures robust data integrity between RTU’s and the Monitoring and Control Software Platform.
In addition, various remote analog and digital sensors can be used with a choice of different communication technologies such as MPT1327, DMR, TETRA, LAN, WiFi, GSM and LTE. The ESS-RTU also provides interfacing to controllers using bus-protocols (e.g. Modbus, DNP-3, OPC).
The ESS-RTU allows for exceptional flexibility and modularity with the ability to provide 100% redundancy for critical management.
The ESS-RTU is a proudly South African designed and manufactured product used extensively in the South African market as well as abroad.
For more information on ESS products refer to http://www.e-s-s.co.za