Tag Archives: Hans Wahlquist

MCE sets new underground mining rules with Event Automation platform

Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering (MCE) is putting the power back in mining engineers’ hands with its new Event Automation platform, according to Hans Wahlquist, VP Business Development & Strategic Product Management for Mobilaris MCE.

Having previously provided advanced software that optimises underground operations through its Mobilaris Mining Intelligence product family, the company is now going one step further with its new automation platform.

Wahlquist describes Mobilaris Event Automation as a tool to enable mine engineers to make full use of the information that comes from: location data of machines, equipment, materials and personnel; the status of work tasks in the shift plan; sensory data from various monitoring systems; machine data from a mixed fleet; and much more.

IM put some questions to Wahlquist to find out more.

IM: In a recently published piece, you mentioned your new solution will “unlock the next level of control room capabilities in its innovative Mobilaris Event Automation platform”. Can you expand on this? What capabilities are being addressed with this update? Why are you addressing these now?

HW: For a long time, Mobilaris has made underground mines transparent with cutting-edge situational awareness, including 3D visualisation and technology-agnostic tracking using a large spectrum of positioning technologies from various vendors. With the new Event Automation platform, we take this further, allowing mining engineers to create advance automation features themselves.

Earlier on with the product development, we made mining personnel aware of vehicles, people, etc. Now, we allow them to create automatic actions based on rules involving the location of assets, the status of assets and sensors, etc.

This has, until now, pretty much only been possible with the help of quite costly integrations with external automation frameworks and using experts. Now, this can be done by the miners themselves in a cost-efficient way.

IM: Where will Mobilaris Event Automation provide the most value in underground mining? Will the value come in energy savings or mine site productivity?

HW: The possibilities are virtually endless. Energy saving functions like Ventilation on Demand (VoD) is, of course, a given example on functions that can be implemented using the Event Automation framework. Additionally, there are numerous productivity possibilities that are unveiled with the advent of Event Automation. One example is the opportunities to easily create valuable key performance indicators and tailored dashboards.

IM: How does the solution differ from, in ventilation applications, numerous VoD solutions already on the market? Is it the ability to tailor these actions that is the unique selling point?

HW: Traditional VoD solutions involve costly experts and costly integrations. As an underground mine is an ever-growing operation, these solutions need constant maintenance. With Event Automation, this can be made by mining engineers themselves which makes an Event Automation-based solution less costly, more tailored for the mine’s unique requirements, etc.

IM: Among the numerous systems Event Automation can integrate with, what is the most revolutionary for the mining sector?

HW: As Event Automation is based on the Node-Red framework from IBM with more than 2,500 existing integrations, the probability of the devices/sensors the mine already has already being integrated into Event Automation is high. Examples could be various gas sensors, smart rock bolts, etc.

Just imagine when you, as a mine engineer, can create an automation rule that involves the location of people or machines with the status of various sensors, which triggers actions such as sending a warning message or triggering an alarm.

IM: What mine site has Event Automation already been deployed at?

HW: Event Automation has so far been deployed in large mines in Canada.

Mobilaris Onboard easing the traffic flow at underground mines

One of the features of the new Mobilaris Onboard™ real-time situational awareness technology can, according to Hans Wahlquist, VP Business Development & Strategic Product Management for Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering, solve the majority of an underground mine’s traffic congestion issues without the need for any additional infrastructure.

As Wahlquist says, traffic congestion is one of the biggest time thieves in a modern underground mine.

“Even as there are bays to park in and let someone pass by, it is difficult to know if there is anyone coming my way,” he says. “Additionally, if I do know about an incoming machine or vehicle, it is still a possibility that the parking spot I am planning to use is already occupied by another vehicle. Simply put, using the radio to avoid traffic congestions is not a perfect solution.”

A traditional approach to solve this is the creation of an advanced traffic management solution where traffic lights would be controlled in order to manage the traffic. Solutions like this are expensive to build and deploy, according to Wahlquist.

“Luckily, these problems can now easily be mitigated with the advent of a new revolutionary product called Mobilaris Onboard using the patent pending Mobilaris Hybrid Positioning™ technology,” he said.

“With the advent of Mobilaris Onboard mounted inside a vehicle, you will get a virtual ‘radar’ that warns you about any vehicles coming your way. As the Mobilaris Onboard knows about all assets in the mine and who is moving and in what direction, together with its own location and direction with an accuracy of 5-10 m, we can create an early warning before a potential traffic situation,” he said. “This enables you to sort out the situation before it will turn into a problem.”

This new feature is called Traffic Awareness.

“We are confident that Traffic Awareness will solve the majority of your traffic congestion issues without any additional infrastructures for high precision positioning or traffic management solutions,” Wahlquist says. “The theory is simple but powerful, if two vehicles meet and both drivers see each other, they will directly know who should give way to whom.”

Investigations have shown traffic slowdown in ramps and other areas with dense traffic are one of the biggest contributors to lost productivity.

Wahlquist explained: “From a recent study at a Canadian mine, a truck round trip from stope to rock breaker averaged 20 minute; as small as 10 minutes, and as large as 50 minutes. The large variation in ramp time could be attributed to, in part, congestion on the ramp and/or rock breaker. By reducing the longest round trip from 50 minutes to, say, 35 minutes (but not changing the average), an extra three to four trips could be possible per shift. This would be facilitated by Onboard to keep ramps and haulage ways clear for priority truck traffic. Queuing time at the rock breaker could also be reduced as truck travel time becomes more repeatable.”

In addition to the productivity gains that Traffic Awareness enables, the effects on safety are huge, according to Wahlquist. “Traffic Awareness is not the same thing as a Collision Awareness system (CAS). Instead it gives drivers the needed awareness and a very early warning that something is coming their way. It will not replace CAS or Proximity Detection Systems but instead work as a very important complementary ‘long range’ system.”