Tag Archives: Rajant

Rajant launches global LTE radio, personnel and asset tracking solution at MINExpo

Rajant Corporation, the provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, has announced two new products on day one of MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The latest enhancements include the addition of a global LTE radtio to its fourth-generation BreadCrumb® Peregrine product line, and the launch of MeshTracer a software-based personnel and asset tracking solution that, Rajant says, can monitor Rajant BreadCrumbs, AeroScout tags and any Wi-Fi device that uses a static MAC address.

The addition of the global LTE radio means that with one 2.4 GHz radio, two 5 GHz radios and LTE, the enhanced Peregrine can provide up to 2.633 Gb/s of aggregated capacity, the company says.

Geoff Smith, EVP of Sales and Marketing for Rajant, says: “Improving the safety and productivity of mining operations is the by-product of Rajant Kinetic Mesh. It is the only industrial wireless network enabling machine-to-machine connectivity and mobility in markets like open-pit and underground mining”

“Adding an LTE client now allows all mining companies that have invested in LTE to leverage that infrastructure while benefiting from the mine-wide mission-critical coverage Kinetic Mesh provides.

He added: “Tracking personnel and assets is mandatory underground, making Rajant’s latest MeshTracer a logical addition to the BreadCrumb portfolio. Adding the ability to track BreadCrumbs both above and below ground allows a mine to observe areas for process improvements. Finally, supporting Wi-Fi devices allows for two-way communication in emergencies.”

Chris Acton, General Manager for Acubis Technologies, the largest Rajant Kinetic Mesh “Premier Partner” in Australasia, said: “We are ecstatic with the performance we have seen in the new Peregrines that we have deployed throughout Australia. Our customers see as much as four times the increase in capacity over the previous generation.

“Rajant provides unique value by maintaining backward compatibility with previous generation BreadCrumbs deployed in the field. This allows sites to upgrade between models knowing that there will be no loss to communications.”

He added: “We also have many customers in Australia who have invested in LTE solutions but are experiencing coverage and data upload issues. These customers are very anxious to deploy the latest LTE-equipped Peregrines. And being able to now track BreadCrumbs as well as personnel above and below ground provides critical new benefits for our customers.’’

Rajant, NEVIL ELETRO MECANICA teleremote dozing success to be highlighted at MINExpo

Rajant Corporation, the provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, and Brazil-based NEVIL ELETRO MECANICA are, they say, improving safety and efficiency with teleoperation for dozing and heavy equipment.

At MINExpo 2021, September 13-15, in the Las Vegas Convention Center, Rajant and NEVIL will share success stories of deployments in iron ore mines in Brazil and demonstrate the collaborative solution for mining.

“Separating people from the risks and adversities inherent to mine site work areas is paramount,” NEVIL’s CEO, Fabio Neves, says. “Rajant enables reliable and redundant connectivity to NEVIL’s teleoperation software and controls, making possible one operator to control multiple dozers, excavators, loaders, and trucks simultaneously. Mining personnel are conducting heavy equipment operations from remote operation areas with consistency, efficiency, productivity, and safety.”

Rajant VP of Sales, Americas, Sagar Chandra, adds: “Scalability is a shared capability between Rajant and NEVIL. As location landscape, environment and conditions change, Rajant and NEVIL dynamically adapt to flex with customer’s mission-critical teleoperations, autonomy and mobility demands.

“As Rajant’s unique Kinetic Mesh BreadCrumbs with InstaMesh® scale and expand, connectivity strengthens across the mine site. Communication of voice, video, and data is delivered with high bandwidth, low latency and security. One such success story was done by Rajant distributor SiTech Brazil and the simultaneous teleoperation of 17 heavy construction units.”

Deployed in more than 230 of the largest open-pit and underground mines globally, fully mobile V2X/M2M was pioneer by Rajant and has a heritage of maintaining interoperability with existing BreadCrumb wireless nodes with new product releases, the company said.

Rajant and ESG Solutions partner on microseismic data transmission for underground mining

Rajant Corporation, the provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, and ESG Solutions, a leading microseismic solutions provider, say they have completed successful testing with Rajant as the backbone for carrying microseismic data to the surface.

Underground and open-pit mining customers could benefit from these developments as both companies start deployment trials in October as the last step in the qualification process, they say.

ESG’s Technical Sales Advisor, Tony Butler, said: “Many mines install microseismic systems for rockburst monitoring and to collect data from microseismic events that can lead to a better understanding of rock mass deformation. ESG Solutions installs microseismic systems that rely on sensors (geophones and/or accelerometers) to record digitised seismic waveforms with our ESG Paladin® data acquisition units housed in junction boxes. Each Paladin unit must be accurately time-synchronised across the network for optimum seismic event location determination. Data and system timing signals are currently transmitted to and from the Paladin units via fibre-optic networks. To reduce initial system costs and ongoing fibre system maintenance, clients have been asking if it would be possible for our systems to operate on a wireless system.”

The main hurdle to a wireless approach for microseismic monitoring has been the ability to provide accurate seismic system timing synchronisation between the Paladin units, according to Butler.

“With Rajant Kinetic Mesh, we are overcoming the time synchronisation issue with Precision Timing Protocol system timing of 30 microseconds (+/- 10 microseconds) being achieved for networked Paladins,” he said. “Together, we have demonstrated in the lab that Rajant and ESG can do seven hops through the Kinetic Mesh and maintain extremely accurate system timing.”

This development will allow Rajant’s wireless network to be considered for microseismic system monitoring in the field for up to 10 kHz sampling rates, Butler explained, with the system timing accuracy more than sufficient for the vast majority of microseismic systems installed that use geophones and/or accelerometers.

Darrell Gillis, Rajant Sales Director for Canada, added: “Rajant provides voice and data communication at the working face for mines. Deployed in 230-plus of the largest mines globally, Rajant’s fully mobile, autonomous V2X/M2M for underground mining eliminates the struggles of a voice-only leaky feeder with multi-radio high-speed connectivity. Next-generation technology, such as what ESG provides, has mission-critical requirements to function ‘no fibre required’. Rajant offers a robust, reliable, and redundant alternative to fibre that is easy-to-install and maintain.

“Rajant supports very accurate system timing, which is impossible with a Layer 3 solution, making Rajant Kinetic Mesh unique, not only for mining but for other IIoT applications, such as oil fields and civil projects.”

Rajant to showcase Kinetic Mesh networking advantages at Mining World Russia

Rajant Corp, the provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, is to attend Mining World Russia, taking place at Moscow’s Crocus Expo.

The international trade show, which is in its 25th year exhibiting machines and equipment for mining, processing and transportation of minerals, takes place on April 20-22, 2021, with Rajant joining its partners.

Showcasing collaborative solutions for fully-mobile mining connectivity will be Rajant’s Russia-based distributor CompTek and technology providers LANIT, AMT-GROUP, CROC, DCLogic, NEMAN and SATEL.

Showcased alongside Rajant’s networking will be LANIT’s virtual reality/augmented reality “smart glasses”.

Equipped with a video camera and compact screen, this technological solution’s software operates over the Rajant network and enables visualisation of on-site observations to command centres for collaborative off-site expertise to complete all phases of the mining mission successfully.

“You need a Mission Critical network to enable AR in hard-to-reach challenging locations,” Nikita Ivanov, CompTek’s Head of Sales, said. “CompTek’s integration partners in Russia and the CIS are committed to evolving mining’s overall productivity, safety and efficiency. With Rajant and its partners, a fully digitalised mine is possible.”

Rajant says its partnership with CompTek, a Russia-based distributor of network and telecommunications equipment, has brought together other Eastern Europe and CIS partners to demonstrate support of machine-to-machine connectivity and mobility for open-pit and underground mining.

Marcin Kusztal, Sales Director Eastern Europe and CIS for Rajant, says Rajant’s network is “unique”.

He added: “Our Kinetic Mesh BreadCrumb® nodes overcome the mine’s constantly changing conditions, which hinder connectivity and real-time application support, with industrial wireless networking that is unwavering in adverse and mobile environments.

“Rajant’s self-optimising Kinetic Mesh nodes work via multiple-frequency, peer-to-peer connections. Plus, the BreadCrumbs can be fixed or mobile, ensuring a mining operation’s continuous productivity and safety.”

Rajant’s Falcon to bridge Kinetic Mesh network with LTE/5G

Rajant Corporation, the exclusive provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks, has developed a new, high-performance, expandable BreadCrumb® platform, the Falcon.

Rajant’s latest platform offers multiple MIMO radios, extremely high throughput, enhanced security performance, and edge computing capabilities for third-party applications and artificial intelligence, the company says. Combined with Rajant’s patented InstaMesh® protocol, the Falcon is capable of bridging Kinetic Mesh wireless networks with other networks such as LTE/5G, it added.

“The Falcon is part of Rajant’s initiative to develop deeply integrated solutions that securely combine data from connected people, vehicles, machines, and sensors, with machine learning,” Rajant said. “This data combination unlocks the benefits of process optimisation, digital twins, predictive analytics, condition-based maintenance, augmented reality, and virtual reality while improving worker safety.”

Robert Schena, Rajant’s CEO and Co-founder, said: “Like Rajant’s other platforms and BreadCrumb radio nodes, the Falcon will be interoperable with all our technology to expand market capabilities for industries like rail, shipping ports, military, mining, and heavy construction.

“Being able to do video and/or LiDAR processing at the edge is core to unlocking these new capabilities. Combining edge computing with high speed, exceedingly reliable, and highly flexible connectivity delivers the tools our customers need.”

Meglab extends its mine network reach with Rajant partnership

Meglab says it has extended its mining telecommunications service offering through a new partnership agreement with Rajant Corp.

Underground telecommunication is one of the main areas of Meglab’s expertise. With the addition of the Rajant connectivity solution for open-pit mines, the mining industry telecommunications needs can now be fully met, Meglab says.

Rajant provides fully mobile, mission-critical data, video, and voice communications networking for open-pit mines as well as underground mining.

Meglab explains: “As the shape, depth, and configuration of mines are continually changing during the extraction of ore, the mining equipment and infrastructure must be moved, which means network coverage must adapt also.

“Rajant provides Kinetic Mesh®, a wireless network that autonomously adapts to operational and environmental changes. The unique nature of their networking architecture allows open-pit and underground operations to easily introduce, relocate, or remove network infrastructure – without causing any network downtime – to deliver highly adaptable coverage and continuous connectivity.”

Kim Valade, VP Sales for Meglab, said: “We are proud to work with Rajant. The reliability of their products meets the highest quality standards. As integrators, we are a one-stop-shop that offers installation and commissioning of a complete telecommunications solution, from underground to surface.”

Darrell Gillis, Rajant Sales Director – Canada, said: “Rajant welcomes Meglab as a channel partner servicing the mining industry. Open-pit and underground mines, like many industrial environments, depend on autonomous mobility for improved efficiency, safety, and profitability. Our BreadCrumb® nodes can be mobile, and create a mesh between stationary and moving equipment, working peer-to-peer to form a multi-radio Kinetic Mesh network.

“These nodes can be deployed on fixed infrastructure or moving assets, such as trucks and loaders, uniquely enabling vehicle-to-vehicle communications between mobile equipment.”

Hitachi moves into a new mining automation zone

Back in 2017 when it was soon expecting to commercially apply its mining truck haulage automation system, Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCM) made the bold claim that it had “commenced development of an autonomous haulage system (AHS) that will leapfrog over current market offerings”.

With trials of the technology at its first mine site concluded and the rollout of automated haulage in New South Wales, Australia, ramping up, HCM’s Adrian Hale, Business Development Manager – AHS, International Operations, Global Mining Group, and Greg Smith, General Manager – AHS Business Unit, Client Solutions Division, provided IM with a bit more information about HCM’s AHS technology, the third commercial offering from a mining OEM.

IM: How would you summarise the Hitachi approach to mining AHS versus others in terms of fundamental development, capability, and overall aims?

AH: Hitachi undertakes a broad investment to leverage group entities and technologies within the development of our AHS capability. This has resulted in formation of cross-entity teams, and adoption of technologies that have been applied in industries including high-speed rail to underpin command and control. It’s definitely a new and contemporary approach in delivering our Open Autonomy vision that extends value across all areas of the mining business. Our objective is to drive operational outcomes for our customers.

IM: What advantages do the wider capabilities within Hitachi Ltd, Wenco, etc bring to your AHS system? How easy was it to adapt systems designed for the rail and automotive groups, for example, for the mining AHS sector?

AH: Leveraging multi-industry capabilities from across Hitachi remains a foundation AHS development and this One Hitachi vision is driving the contemporary method of our ongoing investments. As mentioned earlier, adopting permission control technologies from Hitachi’s rail traffic control applications has delivered innovative efficiency in network communications and supports large scale fleet potential. In the case of Wenco, there remains a seamless integration of design and development team that has accelerated our AHS platform. This continues in terms of our objectives to lead Open Autonomy strategies.

IM: Comparisons are always going to be made between the major OEM providers of AHS: can you highlight some of the differences between your AHS systems and the likes of FrontRunner and Command for Hauling (LiDAR/RADAR differences, on-board/off-board computing power, truck speed restrictions, shovel interaction with AHS, etc)?

AH: Without a doubt there will be areas of difference in the baseline capabilities of all OEM AHS platforms. Command & control functions, sensor and technology integration, base truck engineering and design, as well as services methodologies and support delivery will all factor into these differences.

IM: What are the ‘entry’ requirements for Hitachi’s AHS system in terms of networks and connectivity? How has the Rajant wireless mesh network functionality enabled the Hitachi AHS to avoid the connectivity problems that have been an issue in deployments in the Pilbara (ie the trucks stopping and having to be manually restarted every time they lose connection)?

AH: We remain open on our supporting technologies and infrastructures and these elements remain a key focus of discovery as our regional development progresses. There is always a view to collaborate with our customers importantly to utilise already established assets wherever possible.

GS: One of the key advantages of the Hitachi Autonomous Solution is that autonomous haulage trucks (AHTs) can continue to operate on their assigned permitted path, despite intermitted loss of connection. The AHTs have the ability to navigate within their permitted path and bring themselves to a safe and controlled stop at the end of the assigned path, should the network not be re-established prior. Several safety layers above those linked to network stability are in place to ensure safe and efficient operation.

IM: I believe in a 2017 release, it was quoted that “limiting constant communication between the truck and the FMS, Hitachi’s autonomous technology was able to control up to 100 vehicles under the one system”. Is this the ‘ceiling’ in terms of the number of AHS haul trucks you expect to deploy on any one mine site?

AH: While we don’t perceive there would be ceiling limits, it is reasonable to acknowledge AHS fleet will have an optimal design utilisation within operations. This includes, of course, instrumented equipment that is not fully autonomous that has to have visibility within these areas.

IM: How do your TCS and Exclusive Permission Control functions differ to the traffic management and navigation procedures of other AHS systems? Does it enable your AHS system to reduce the number of false positive ODs (object detections) on mine sites?

AH: Without making direct comparison to other AHS solutions, integration of these systems and functions delivers optimised AHS fleet & network management. As a design principle, Hitachi AHS is a complex, contemporary ‘system of systems’ and that platform delivers these benefits.

IM: Outside of the obvious productivity and safety benefits your system will offer, what other external benefits are you expecting (fuel use, haul road degradation, tyre life, etc)?

AH: The basis of AHS technologies from a customer viewpoint reinforces the absolute need to deliver safety and compliance as #1, as well as productivity and efficiency benefits that would include optimisation of input cost areas. Hitachi has every expectation to meet market demand for reducing cost per tonne, optimising production, enabling grade control management and investing in workforce skilling for future mining. These priorities are also strengthened by our corporate sustainable development goal commitment and corporate social responsibility focus.

IM: Is your AHS focus likely to remain with the retrofit or ‘new’ market? Will the system likely become available for EH4000AC3 and EH3500AC3 trucks?

AH: Terminology in this space is quite fluid, regarding retrofit and new market. All Hitachi AC-3 rear dump trucks are designed for AHS and we can confirm the commissioning of these models is now in place. The assembly and commissioning of AHTs (ie on-board hardware) occurs wherever possible prior to customer delivery. Fleets that are already in operation at a customer site can be managed for retrofit without issue.

IM: Do the open architecture of the Wenco FMS and your wider DX initiatives mean you will be able to retrofit AHS on other truck manufacturers’ products in the long run?

AH: Hitachi’s continued R&D initiatives in the mining sector focuses on providing greater technology benefit across the value chain – not solely haulage. Our AHS market growth remains fixed at this time on our own fleet portfolio. Open Autonomy strategy ultimately provides choice and flexibility to the mining community.

IM: You have large haul truck fleets in important markets like Colombia, Zambia, and Indonesia. Is the business case for AHS as strong in these countries?

AH: Our clear priority remains on our commitments in Australia. Developing business value in other markets remains important to Hitachi and we will continue to engage in conversation with all customers.

IM: What can you say about the performance of the initial deployment of a fleet of six EH5000 AHS-enabled in commercial operation? How have these trucks performed compared with the test work you previously carried out on site?

AH: The current phase of deployment has produced ongoing and very encouraging results. Implementing within coal operations as well as the first AHS operation in NSW has also provided some great learnings – working with the customer teams, regulator and our multi-national implementation delivery model. Moving from test to production now validates the performance objectives we had established, and, as the fleet population meets its full size in AHS operation, further operational gains.

IM: How different is the AHS-enabled trucks Hitachi has compared with what you initially presented at Meandu (have any major elements changed)?

AH: There is a continuing investment in terms of engineering and development for our next-generation AHS capabilities, but aligning these priorities with strategic directions. Our supported AHS base truck fleet as deployed at Meandu remains our core platform but we are extending the EH class fleet models and ancillary supported fleet that operate within the autonomous zones.

3D-P on hybrid LTE: a first step towards mine digitisation

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.

Rajant makes its underground mining move

Rajant is now looking to leverage the leading wireless network expert status it has built up in the open-pit mining space for the benefit of the underground mining sector.

At the AIMEX 2019 event in Sydney, Australia, last month, Mike Foletti, Sales Director, Asia Pacific, and Geoff Smith, Executive Vice President Global Sales and Marketing, talked IM through the move, explaining that the exclusive provider of Kinetic Mesh® wireless networks had teamed up with other firms to ensure its below ground offering is as complete as can be.

The underground solution the company was pushing for the first time at the event has been made possible by the strategic partnership between Rajant, Poynting Antennas, Extronics, and Australian Droid + Robot, the company said.

In the underground setup, Rajant’s multi-radio, multi-frequency BreadCrumb® nodes combine with Poynting’s wide-band, bi-directional, circular polarised antenna system to create a “complete underground and tunnel-wide wireless network for mission-critical data, video, and voice communications”, the company says.

As part of this, Extronics rugged and intrinsically safe AeroScout Wi-Fi-based active RFID tags for personnel and asset tracking operate in real time over Rajant’s network, never breaking for handoff. With location tracking precision of about 10 m, the tags can be used to identify productivity bottlenecks for improved operational efficiency, Rajant says. And, lastly, Australian Droid + Robot’s Explora droids (one pictured at AIMEX 2019), which Australian Droid says have “ridiculous amounts of traction and agility”, come equipped with Rajant BreadCrumb technology. This allows the small all-terrain robots to carry out underground inspections, enabling the machine to independently scan, sense, and explore locations that may be hazardous to miners.

While this is the first time Rajant has talked about this underground solution, it has already been deployed at one mine site, according to Foletti.

“This is basically an enhancement on any fixed solution that is installed underground,” he said, explaining that the high throughput and low latency network benefits open-pit miners have received above ground for many years, is now be translated into underground mines.

While Rajant will continue to service the open-pit sector as it has beforehand, providing the type of robust network solutions it has for more than a decade, its decision to move underground is easy to understand.

For starters, many of the big open pits are reaching the end of their mine lives, with mining engineers now planning for underground operations.

At the same time as this, underground mines either in development or production are expanding operations at a pace that makes it hard and expensive for fixed or conventional wireless network solutions to keep up with.

Rajant explains: “Underground mines and tunnels are some of the most challenging environments in which to deploy network systems. Connectivity and throughput demands are high, but circular ramps and declines, stopes, and mine layout place limitations on how far wireless signals can travel.

“Many mines, therefore, depend on fibre to achieve reliable underground communications, but installing fibre in active drives, panels and declines is difficult to schedule and can create operational and maintenance nightmares.”

In addition, development plus drill and blast areas can rarely support fibre infrastructure. “It is not uncommon for trucks to accidentally catch and rip down sections of fibre and when that happens connectivity across the entire underground mine can be lost,” Rajant said.

In Rajant’s Wireless Mesh solution, BreadCrumb nodes act independently of each other. This means if one node is damaged or has an issue, the system continues to operate by using another communication route. In addition, the underground solution boasts the highest data throughput on the market, according to Foletti; latency is less than a millisecond, he added. Both features will become even more important as the industry continues its transition to automation.

Smith and Foletti said the company chose AIMEX 2019 and the Australian market to launch this solution as the company already has 35 installations on surface in Australia, at operations owned by some major mining companies, such as Anglo American. Anglo, in fact, is standardising all its global operations with Rajant Wireless Mesh network technology, according to Smith.

The Rajant team is confident these companies and others will see there is a strong investment case for introducing Wireless Mesh underground, too.

In addition to gaining traction with mining companies, Smith and Foletti said Rajant had been making inroads with equipment manufacturers, fleet management providers and other service providers in the mining ecosystem.

Smith mentioned Wabtec (now GE Wabtec) had made an investment in the company as it looked to incorporate its wireless communications technology into its rail systems, while Japanese conglomerate Mitsui had created a strategic partnership looking to rollout Rajant’s technology across several of its portfolio companies.

Despite the introduction of LTE and 5G technology to the underground environment, Smith and Foletti believe there is still a business case for Rajant’s Wireless Mesh technology.

As Foletti said, “If they [the mining operation] move[s], that’s where Rajant comes in.”

This is likely to see the communications infrastructure installed alongside other technologies in the future such as LTE, fibre and 5G in rapidly expanding mining areas such as development and production.

3D-P gets networking at copper miner’s Americas sites

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.”

The solution

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.”

Client access

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.