Reliable underground communications

SMART Mining Security Solutions 2024 Mining (Industry)

Leaky Feeder surfaced in 1956 and has been used in the mining industry ever since. Over the years, Leaky Feeder has proven itself as a vital method of underground communication. Still, it was not easy, with components being damaged and cables cut, leaving large portions of the mine without communication.

Fault-finding was a tedious process of walking the line and inspecting cable and amplifiers until the problem was identified and resolved. The introduction of remote diagnostics made the fault-finding process simpler, but at an enormous cost, not to mention the backup communication systems that needed to be in place.

UQOMM introduced several fundamental upgrades to the Leaky Feeder market. First and foremost, with the new UQOMM VLAD amplifiers, the customer is no longer bound to only one OEM, as the UQOMM range is compatible with all other Leaky Feeder systems. Since the beginning of 2024, UQOMM has also supplied components to the UHF market.

Additional offerings

The VLAD amplifier is a multi-volt amplifier that operates between 6 - 52 V. In addition, upgrading to enable remote diagnostics and SMARTRing technology, the required PC Boards are retrofitted on-site, making upgrades more cost-effective and less labour-intensive.

UQOMM redesigned the VLAD to offer three filters and amplifiers per direction (TX or RX), ensuring the best possible radio signal. By filtering, noise factors are significantly reduced. To ensure ease of fault-finding, the UQOMM remote diagnostic server is web-enabled, allowing maintenance teams to receive early warnings and exact fault locations.

To overcome the loss of communication in the event of a component failure or cable break, UQOMM introduced SMARTRing using the mine’s fibre network. The reverse signal switches from the remote unit to the fault within the blink of an eye, reducing the need for a redundant backup system as the UQOMM Leaky Feeder becomes self-redundant. Once the fault has been remedied, the system returns seamlessly and reverses to normal.

UQOMM also offers a digital head-end with or without SmarTune technology, depending on the size requirements of the Leaky Feeder  System, allowing cost-effective start-up systems that are easily upgraded to ensure better management of larger systems.

UQOMM passive components are designed to lower dB losses, ensuring all-round improvement in voice transmission quality.

Looking ahead

Future developments ready to be launched in 2024 include telemetry sniffer units to expand existing Leaky Feeder systems to offer mines more functionality without having to install additional third-party infrastructure.

In a nutshell, UQOMM has reinvented the Leaky Feeder wheel with innovative development to ensure existing and new installations will still provide safety and critical communication in the harsh and dangerous mining environment.

Halo Technology is the distributor for UQOMM in Africa and India and has already authorised more than 30 resellers throughout the continent. This network will ensure that compliance in terms of local business and local support is met and that clients will have no difficulty with installations and maintenance within their country. Quality underground communications at a cost-effective price is available with professionally designed solutions to ensure the best value for money.

In conclusion, Leaky Feeder has been given a new life by offering analogue, mixed mode and digital voice networks; the cross-OEM compatibility of UQOMM, Web-enabled remote diagnostics, SmartRing, and telemetry sniffers ensures that Leaky Feeder remains crucial for mining.

Without communication operations, emergency response and maintenance grinds to a slow, tedious process, and within an underground environment, you need speedy, efficient communication at all times. With the birth of Wi-Fi and various other technologies, Leaky Feeder stands its ground as the most simplistic communication solution for voice, as it is robust, easy to maintain and constantly available due to the use of arterial cable antenna systems.


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