Ensuring effective communications on mines

SMART Mining Security Solutions 2024 Mining (Industry)

Mining operations, often situated in remote and geographically expansive locations, encounter a myriad of challenges when trying to maintain seamless connectivity. Recognising these obstacles as opportunities for innovation, Global Communications (an Elvey Group company and part of the Hudaco Group of companies) has engineered a suite of flexible solutions poised to revolutionise communication infrastructure within the mining industry, ensuring efficiency, safety, and productivity at every step of the mining process.

“Our solutions address the very specific needs of mines, namely reliability, ruggedness, efficiency, always-on availability, human-centred operation, and safety. Our portfolio of extensively tried and tested offerings is not only relevant to current needs, but is scalable as requirements change or increase,” says Sean Mervitz, Sales Manager at Global Communications.

Global Comms offers radios, receivers, base stations, high-availability server platform applications, and accessories from KENWOOD, Sepura, DAMM, and Rohill.

Five-year warranty

In 2020, Global Comms was the first two-way radio company in the local market to offer a five-year warranty on specified KENWOOD digital products (NEXEDGE NXDN, DMR, ATEX radios and systems). The guaranteed performance claims that underpin the company’s confidence in these products include:

• Operation in extreme temperatures. During testing, the radios proved able to successfully and reliably operate at temperatures as low as -30°C and up to as high as +60°C.

• Dust and water-resistant. The Kenwood radios in this range conform to MIL-STD 810 C/D/E/F and G specifications. They are also IP54/55/67 and 68 rated, which means they are 100% protected against solid objects like dust and sand, and have been tested to work for up to two hours while submerged in water up to 1 metre.

• Reliability of the push-to-talk (PTT) buttons. Repeated testing of the Kenwood radio buttons shows a PTT reliability of 100 000 activations.

• Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF). MTBF is a crucial maintenance metric that measures performance, safety, and equipment design. Kenwood radios exhibit a MTBF of up to 40 000 hours, making them suitable for operation in remote areas, where access to maintenance may be limited.

“The KENWOOD products display a high price-to-performance ratio, and are perfectly suited to the conditions experienced in mines, with repeaters traditionally lasting anywhere from 10 to 15 years. When discussing popular features with mining customers, they often cite the factory-fitted GPS facility, which allows tracking of employees, the man-down feature, lone worker capability and the stun/kill ability,” says Mervitz.

• Man-down: When the radio passes a specified degree of tilt, the system sends an alarm to the control room.

• Lone worker: If the radio has not moved or communicated with the control room for a predetermined time, an alarm is activated.

• Stun/kill: This allows the radio to be remotely stunned or shut down if it is stolen. If the thief tries to reactivate it, they are requested to enter a secret password, thereby disallowing them to use the radio.

In addition to these, other features include:

• The DMR feature provides the ability to communicate with TETRA products via DAMM, thereby enhancing the interoperability of all Global Comms mine offerings.

• KAS-20 AVL and Dispatch Software is compatible with KENWOOD digital radio systems and runs on Windows and Windows Server. Both NXDN and DMR digital protocols are supported. Control room operators can send messages to the radio operators on the network. Voice recording capabilities allow the playback of communication between the control room operators and the radio operators. The software tracks portable radio users and vehicles. This feature enhances personnel safety.

• KENWOOD’s ANR can discriminate between voice and noise, making full use of DSP to eliminate ambient noise so that the caller appears to be talking in a noiseless environment.

• The geofencing feature allows mines to geofence small areas, or the entire mine. If a radio leaves the geofenced area, it can be rapidly tracked, and control room operators can further elect to use the stun/kill feature.

The range also covers several repeaters, including the NXR-1700/1800 VHF/UHF compact, multi-mode conventional repeater, which is the perfect space-saving solution; and the NXR-5700/5800 NEXEDGE VHF/UHF digital and FM base-repeater, which is over seven-times faster and with 15-times more capacity than the previous models.

App-rich portable/mobile radios

Sepura’s SC20 hand portable radio and SEG22 mobile radio have several accessories and are also enhanced with the AppSPACE software environment. AppSPACE enables the development of a wide range of feature-rich apps, including connectivity to third-party devices, local and remote data mining, analysis and execution of business logic, and displays and/or transmits data and results to a backend system.

Furthermore, the following applications provide users with several benefits:

• SmartView — one flexible solution for viewing a team’s GPS and indoor locations. This provides greater situational awareness to protect workers and deploy resources more effectively.

• RadioAudit automates the process of radio audits, making compliance fast, efficient, and accurate.

• AutoMate improves an organisation’s operation performance and employee safety by enabling radio automation through geofencing and situational triggers. It automatically executes routine and safety-critical tasks to deliver results faster, reduce the risk of user error, and safeguard teams.

Technology-independent DAMM

“The scalable DAMM TetraFlex system offers mines decentralised infrastructure, and the use of any radio terminal and/or the use of TETRA over LTE. A typical DAMM installation, consisting of both indoor and outdoor base stations with a large pool of radios, gives you full control with built-in applications,” says Mervitz.

“On new remote greenfield sites, you can deploy a trailer-mounted solution that allows you to stay connected. Installation of the solar-powered solution is easy with the plug-and-play system, saving time and money for mines. Once installed, the system allows you to manage your fleet with a built-in dispatcher, secure your critical communications with a voice and data log system, and use Group Bridge to interconnect with other technologies or simply use Rohill’s TETRA over LTE with your smartphone,” says Mervitz.

With the technology-independent DAMM BS422 multi-tech outdoor base station, it is possible to run TETRA, DMR Tier III, analogue, or a combination of these in a core-connected system. The BS422 is a compact, low-weight and rugged outdoor base station that one can set up as either a standalone system or seamlessly integrate into any existing DAMM single-tech network.

Features include:

• Powerful integrated controller.

• Built-in or external GNSS receiver available.

• Antenna setup: Minimum one antenna per box, two antennas for diversity. Optimised for a setup with two boxes and two antennas.

• Two-way receive diversity for all technology modes.

• Synchronisation: PTP (IEEE1588), GNSS (GPS, Galileo, Glonass).

It is built to withstand harsh conditions, from extreme cold to extreme heat and wet conditions, thanks to its IP65 encapsulation. Its compact and lightweight design makes it easy to install everywhere, from masts to tunnels and on the back of a truck.

The decentralised architecture at the core of the BS422 ensures that all system information is constantly replicated to all sites in the network. This way, the system does not have any single point of failure, and local call and data traffic will run without interruption, even if one site loses its connection to the rest of the network.

The compact and flexible SB422 Service Box is designed to ensure full functionality of up to two BS422 units. It includes a power supply, a PC and an ethernet switch, and allows connection of an external backup battery. Installed at the base of an installation tower, it allows any maintenance to be performed easily and safely at ground level.

The DAMM TetraFlex Group Bridge provides total communications flexibility, by enabling group calls between TETRA, DMR and/or analogue networks, creating valuable interoperability between many systems, including KENWOOD radios.

Switching of voice and data traffic

The Rohill TetraNode High-End core platform performs the switching of voice and data traffic and provides the signalling between radios and/or between radios and gateways in real time. User traffic (voice and data) and signalling are carried on a single connection between the TetraNode eXchange and Base Station System, and it is designed to support millions of calls per day.

The R-8070 is the third generation Rohill TETRA Base Station transceiver, featuring 40 WRMS output and up to triple diversity receivers within a compact rack-mount design. It provides one TETRA carrier with a capacity of four simultaneous communication channels. The R-8070 is designed for installation within the Rohill Base Station System enclosure.

The R-817 TetraNode Dispatch Server (TDS) provides a highly flexible and scalable solution for building control rooms. It is positioned in-between TetraNode eXchanges and one or more control rooms, acting as a load balancer/extender between the TetraNode eXchange and applications.

The Dispatch Server is compatible with the TetraNode Industrial and TetraNode High-End platforms and can be used in combination with local and remote control rooms and with validated third-party applications that use the L-951 TetraNode IP Gateway.

“Our ability to match integrated and synergistic technology to the specific mission-critical requirements of each mining operation forms a foundational principle in our approach to improving communications for our mining clients. We become part of the mine’s team in the planning and execution phases of any communications project, specifying and implementing reliable technology that boasts a connectivity uptime of 99,9%,” says Mervitz.

For more information contact Global Communications, +27 12 621 0400, [email protected], www.globalcomms.net


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