Connected fixed mine lighting as a conduit for plant wireless coverage

Australia’s Coolon LED Lighting is one of the companies changing mine lighting from being viewed as largely a commodity to being a key part of mine digitalisation in the form of smart and connected light solutions. The company says it is looking to improve safety, productivity and operating efficiencies in the fixed plant arena with ‘connected’ lighting that can act as a conduit to help transfer service data.

“Fixed plant is one of the most difficult areas to digitise in a conventional way – running cables is not a cost-effective option and setting up a Wi-Fi coverage around here is challenging to say the least,” Coolon explained. “From a radio signal propagation perspective, most of the plant consists of massive steel and concrete superstructures designed to house the electric motors and pumps, generating an immense amount of electromagnetic noise. Setting up and maintaining a Wi-Fi network requires a team of highly specialised professionals that are rarely present on site.”

Yet, a typical wireless network can be simplified by reducing expectations of great widespread coverage and, instead, covering an area with a densely packed mesh of wireless networking nodes, Coolon claims. In this setup, one node only needs to service the immediate area around itself and pass the data onto its neighbour for re-transmission. Mine lighting is naturally positioned to provide the best radio coverage, according to Coolon –lights are mounted in elevated positions, constantly powered, and located throughout the site. That is why the new generation of Coolon lights, the DLK2S, are built with a smart connectivity module that opens an array of IoT possibilities previously not considered possible.

“Once installed, the DLK2S will automatically connect with other smart lights nearby and form a robust wireless mesh network across the site, unlocking the full potential of IoT technologies by accessing services from our ecosystem partners,” Coolon said. “This wireless system serves as a virtual app store for technology services on your site where you can choose and deploy a range of different services of your choice.”

For example, mines could deploy an asset tracking service to instantly locate tagged equipment on site, or choose personnel locating technology that will allow monitoring on site in real time, sending help directly to those in needshould an accident occur. “Or perhaps you could deploy a machine condition monitoring service, constantly overseeing the performance over any critical equipment and scheduling maintenance in advance before any costly failures take place,” Coolon said. “You could easily roll out a whole array of sensors to monitor noise, pollution, air quality and other conditions in real time in any area around the site.”

Coolon says its ecosystem partner network is rapidly growing as new types of sensors and devices are being created for a variety of purposes all over the world. “These services unlock endless possibilities, but they all require the deployment of a mesh network to operate on,” it said. “Such a network would get immediately automatically deployed across your site if you were simply using Coolon lights.”