Cisco set to acquire mining automation & IoT wireless networks major Fluidmesh

Cisco today announced its intent to acquire privately-held Fluidmesh Networks, a leader in wireless backhaul systems. Fluidmesh’s leading technology delivers reliable and resilient wireless solutions for mission critical applications, including large-scale distributed sites such as mines where signal strength can be challenging. Fluidmesh’s solutions are quick to deploy and configure, offering customers a cost-efficient, low-maintenance solution.

As an example of its mining offering, Fluidmesh has developed a wireless industrial-grade IP solution for mining automation projects involving mission-critical condition monitoring, security and automation. Fluidmesh technology creates wireless mesh network infrastructures capable to stream up to 500 Mbps of data, video, and voice and fully IP compatible. It can interconnect multi-vendor devices, sensors, security, and control equipment in hard to wire sites such as mines implementing a broadband wireless mining automation solution.

A number of large mines have deployed Fluidmesh solutions to facilitate their digitalisation needs including being able to handle the ever greater burden of video surveillance of operations. A full list of potential applications of its wireless network solutions includes fleet management, live monitoring of mobile equipment telemetry, real-time video feeds for operations, video surveillance, access control, safety system monitoring, mobile field communications, field access to drill and blast data, mining management software and autonomous and semi-autonomous mining.

Notable clients include Colombian coal miners Cerrejon and Drummond Company, the Usibelli Coal Mine (UCM) in Alaska, Antamina in Peru, as well as operations of Anglo American, BHP, Fresnillo, De Beers, Rio Tinto, AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont, Essar Steel and Alcoa. It has also worked with Joy Global (Komatsu Mining) and RCT.

“Fluidmesh will extend Cisco’s industrial wireless offerings to industries with on-the-move assets and applications in situations where reliable backhaul is mission critical. Cisco’s scale, combined with Fluidmesh’s solution-based offerings and relationships with systems integrators, will accelerate Cisco’s industrial IoT business to enable successful industrial wireless deployments, broaden reach to key customer segments, partners, and end users.”

“Cisco provides one of the most secure and reliable networking technologies on the market today,” said Liz Centoni, Cisco Senior Vice President and General Manager for Cloud, Compute, and IoT businesses. “With wireless technology playing a greater role in every organisation’s multi-access IoT strategy, reliable wireless connectivity is paramount to organisations operating Industrial IoT environments, whether that’s manufacturing, mining, rail, or ports, where wireless technology automates operations to improve safety and lower costs. The acquisition of Fluidmesh strengthens Cisco’s offerings in this space with leading technology that’s designed to provide zero loss of data transfer at speeds in excess of 300 km/h.”

The acquisition of Fluidmesh is expected to close in the fourth quarter of Cisco’s fiscal year 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and required regulatory approvals.

Centoni added in a blog post discussing the move: “Today’s wireless technology is allowing organisations to improve productivity and worker safety. Organisations such as Caterpillar offer wireless technologies for unmanned vehicles, and mining operations such as Boliden in Garpenberg, Sweden are using wireless technology to remotely operate 23 ton loaders in a small space. If communications fail, it could result in the unit stopping and halting production, ultimately requiring human intervention. On the other hand, a loss in communications with a high-speed train or subway is unacceptable. While most wireless solutions work well for slow moving objects (<30km/h), Fluidmesh’s leading technology is designed to provide zero loss of data transfer at speeds in excess of 300 km/h.”

Fluidmesh Networks said it will join Cisco’s IOT business and will continue to deliver its innovative wireless solutions to customers globally through its network of specialised channel partners, adding: “As a new chapter in Fluidmesh history is about to begin, we would like to thank our world-class team, devoted customers, and all of our supporters for their constant encouragement and dedication to making Fluidmesh a success. We are looking forward to continuing our journey with you as we enter our next phase of our company’s growth. Our commitment is stronger than ever during these exciting times. Fluidmesh products and solutions will remain available as we continue to be deeply committed to investing in our platforms and supporting customers looking for a wireless backhaul network to drive safety and productivity in industrial environments, a commitment and vision that Cisco shares. Cisco will further accelerate Fluidmesh’s product roadmap and go-to-market execution, offering Fluidmesh a new level of operational scale, the ability to enter new verticals and geographies, and access to an impressive enterprise customer base.”