3D-P says it has come up with a solution for a large copper miner looking for reduced wireless network management and improved network performance, all while being able to gather additional machine health data and improve its operational capacity across mine sites in the Americas.
The company had been running an 802.11g wireless network for a number of years, but head office was concerned by the amount of maintenance required to preserve the performance of the wireless network at each of the sites, as trailer moves were becoming a frequent activity, 3D-P said.
“In parallel, the sites had been running several applications on-board their mobile equipment, each using their own hardware, including Honeywell MEM for asset health, Modular Dispatch and High Precision GPS,” the company explained. “Many of these systems were due for upgrade, which in some cases would include increased network requirements.”
Led by the global IT department, the miner was investigating a wireless network upgrade, complete with infrastructure and on-board radio upgrades, according to 3D-P. At the same time, the maintenance department was investigating an upgrade to its on-board asset health dataloggers, adding functionality and supportability.
The brief for the new wireless network was as follows:
- It should have the ability to reside on Layer 3 to bring network routing as close to the edge as possible, and;
- It should also require minimal maintenance and have the ability to scale up in line with the miners’ wireless coverage needs.
Part of the global IT department’s vision was to consolidate the radio and the different applications running on-board the fleet into a single platform.
In addition, there was a requirement to include an accelerometer and a gyroscope allowing geo-referenced and time-stamped monitoring of the quality of the haul roads, as well as induced stress on the truck itself. Aligning with the miner’s corporate network switch standard, the solution should include a Cisco switch.
By creating a partnership and factoring in these requirements along with the company’s long-term vision, a “truly unique solution” consolidating these departmental needs into a single on-board platform was created, 3D-P said. This reduced initial costs and downtime significantly while providing the significant performance improvement each department required, it added.
3D-P said: “Additionally, the miner was looking for a technology partner that would support them through the lifespan of the technology from design and deployment, to training, consulting and ongoing support. The partner should also have in-depth mining experience.
“The expected result was an easy-to-maintain end-to-end solution that would support the miner’s requirements overtime while reducing their technology ‘clutter’, improving operations and reducing maintenance time and associated costs.”
3D-P, in its role as the end-to-end solution provider, recommended the miner deploy a Rajant Kinetic Mesh network. This, the company said, provided the required performance, reliability and scalability, while meeting the miner’s Layer 3 network security mandate.
“Rajant was selected as the technology of choice for the miner’s requirements for its self-forming, self-healing capabilities that would allow significant reduction in ongoing maintenance of the network infrastructure in the mines’ pits,” 3D-P said.
Its meshing capabilities would also allow cost effective increased coverage through dynamic meshing, while Rajant’s RPT protocol and security capability allowed both the required Layer 3 connectivity and the IT departments security requirements, the company added.
For high speed wireless backhaul, Cambium Networks PMP radios were used, with 3D-P identifying their known reliability, GPS synchronisation, channel re-use capacity as well as non-collision based channel access as key features.
3D-P explained the installation a little more:
“The miner’s networks consist of multiple segregated VLAN’s serving machine applications and network management. These networks span multiple Layer 2 segments across each site, being brought from the wired network to strategic locations throughout the sites with Cambium PMP radios. Rajant BreadCrumbs are placed at these locations, and others, creating high speed multi-channel InstaMesh links to other RF visible Breadcrumbs, either embedded in the 3D-P Intelligent Endpoint® (IEP) or standalone.
“Data generated on the mobile clients is transferred from machine to the IEP, or standalone Breadcrumb, to the Rajant wireless InstaMesh network and routed by Rajant’s InstaMesh Cost routing algorithm. This data is routed to its final destination by Rajant’s APT protocol (Layer 2 InstaMesh routing, within single segment) and RPT protocol (Layer 3 InstaMesh routing, between Layer 2 segments) while using the most cost efficient route whilst being blind to the type of network medium used.”
At the client access level, the solution consists of the 3D-P Intelligent Endpoint. This is designed as an open computing platform and mobile radio with on-board network management and data collection capabilities. The selection of the IEP platform allowed development of a solution that met all of the miner’s needs in a single device, 3D-P said, adding that the IEP model included a Rajant ME4 radio and a Cisco ESS2020 switch, while hosting the Honeywell MEM asset heath system.
“The native suite of tools residing on-board the IEP allowed development of a few customised solutions, including network health monitoring, a publish/subscribe solution for delivery of HPGPS corrections where required, and the firewall capability to provide connectivity via bi-directional network address translation to the P&H (Komatsu) Centurion systems running on their shovels where local static IP addresses are utilised, which are not compatible with the miner’s IP networking scheme.”
The solution saw the miner benefit from a significant reduction in capital expenditure for the on-board solution, as well as reduction in operational expenditure through significant savings in installation and troubleshooting time.
In terms of ongoing network maintenance, 3D-P mentioned its Network Performance Analysis Toolkit (NPAT). This regularly monitors the health of the wireless network from the mobile client’s perspective, with the NPAT data collector running a number of active and passive performance tests directly on the IEP, including ICMP pings of varying size, upstream and/or downstream UDP/TCP throughput, connectivity, neighbour tables, noise levels and location, etc.
The data is then geo-stamped and time-referenced before being visualised on a map for the miner to interpret. 3D-P and the sites are also developing a solution to automate the data collection and provide it to the miner’s own analytical tool, the company said.
The miner decided to perform the upgrade one site at a time over the course of a year, with a former ‘train the trainer’ model followed at each site, 3D-P said.
3D-P says the upgrade of the first five sites has been delivered on time and on budget, with the remaining four sites to be completed by the end of the year.
“Close partnership between 3D-P and the miner played a critical role in this success, through design and development of a complete end-to-end solution that met both the IT and asset health groups,” the company concluded.