While larger mines and those looking to automation are often the most obvious candidates for new LTE connectivity, 3D-P thinks a hybrid LTE solution can offer smaller mines the chance to ramp up their digitisation efforts.
One of the expected benefits of LTE is connectivity at greater distances than what Wi-Fi traditionally offers. This has seen several large companies such as Agnico Eagle Mines (La Ronde), Newcrest Mining (Lihir), South32 (Cannington) and MMG (Las Bambas) ramp up their LTE efforts in recent times.
Yet coupling this distance connectivity benefit with a hybrid solution like the 3D-P hybrid LTE/InstaMesh® (from Rajant) client can offer smaller operations a simple and affordable network, according to the communications provider. This allows remote access to their data in near real time, it says.
“In this scenario, with no network required at the bottom of the pit, vehicles can still remain connected and sharing data via peer-to-peer connectivity,” 3D-P says. “Leveraging the Store and Forward capabilities of the 3D-P hybrid client, data is stored on-board the client while travelling outside the pit and is communicated to the server as coverage resumes and the client connects to the LTE network either directly or through a connected peer.”
With minimal infrastructure requirements, the solution is suited to applications with non-real-time communication requirements, the company said.
With this hybrid network in place, mines need to leverage the data they are receiving.
“The good news is that a number of simpler, more affordable applications have appeared over the last few years making digitisation an option for smaller operations,” 3D-P said. “Even better, and critical to smaller operators, is the ability that those new solutions provide to prove rapid return on investment on the technology.”
3D-P used its partner iVolve’s fleet management system as an example here. iVolve provides miners with a range of modules from production, maintenance, tyre pressure, material management, etc. “With the ability to integrate directly to existing or third-party systems, iVolve offers a scalable application for your mobile equipment as your mine digitises,” 3D-P said.
Through a proof of concept run at a mine in Western Australia, where productivity data was previously recorded manually, implementation of the iVolve solution proved to deliver an immediate 10% efficiency improvement, according to 3D-P.