A new WAVE of communication for the mining sector


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Australia’s mining sector is showing continued signs of resurgence marked by increased employment and more stable commodity prices.

The more optimistic outlook for the sector must be supported by secure and effective communications, enabling mining companies to maintain efficiency and productivity while protecting the safety of workers. Through Motorola Solutions’ WAVE technology, Roy Hill, an iron ore, mining, rail and port operation in West Australia’s Pilbara, is extending the reach and capability of its communications — from mine sites to beyond.

Like many major industries, Australia’s mining sector has benefited from exponential technology innovation in recent years.

From autonomous vehicles to advanced data analytics capabilities, to wearable devices, drones and beyond — innovation is enabling the industry to become truly digital and is paving the way for continued growth.

For consumers, smartphones and the applications that power them have become indispensable to daily life. However, for heavy industrial environments including mining, voice communication and the need to quickly connect with members of a group reinforces the continued need for secure and efficient push-to-talk (PTT) communication to get the job done.

Although the traditional means of providing these communications were once exclusively provided via radio networks, technology has evolved, reflecting the fact that not all industry workers carry a radio.

Motorola Solutions’ WAVE portfolio suite of PTT applications enables users in mining and other industries to communicate between traditional radios and smartphones, tablets and other devices.

A new way to connect with WAVE on MOTOTRBO

Through a new software update, any Wifi enabled MOTOTRBO radio with a screen can be upgraded to connect back to its radio system via the WAVE server, even when operating outside of its RF coverage area.

The software update means a mine site supervisor could use a MOTOTRBO radio to access a communication group even when working at a remote location such as the corporate headquarters.

This creates a simple and easy way to stay connected to a radio network without the need to carry an additional device to talk with the communication group.

WAVE is a vital technology for large organisations with workforces that need to stay connected across multiple locations, including transportation, hospitality and healthcare companies.

Increased safety

While productivity and efficiency are vital in the mining sector the safety of personnel will always be paramount. Herein lies the greatest advantages MOTOTRBO technology can bring.

Apart from being ‘always-on’ and contactable to alert field workers and the control room when an incident takes place, other important safety features within MOTOTRBO ensure workers are as safe as possible.

Flexible subscriptions and pricing

As WAVE is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, it can be accessed via affordable and flexible subscriptions that avoid the need for large capital costs.

As a software-based platform, next generation upgrades can also be more easily deployed without the need to upgrade devices.

A reliable network for digital mines of the future

The mining sector will continue to be exposed to environmental pressures including fluctuations in commodity prices and other factors. However, technology innovation provides a constant to help businesses maximise their goals for efficiency and productivity, keep workers safe and stay competitive, all while providing greater protection should economic cycles change.

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How WAVE helps Roy Hill communicate better

One of the largest and most well-known integrated mining projects in Australia, Roy Hill, is located approximately 340 kilometres south-east of Port Hedland, in the Pilbara.

A key aspect to the project’s operational success is the cohesive communications maintained between project sites, Roy Hill’s Perth-based corporate headquarters and its remote operations centre. This provides a coordinated and integrated approach to the planning, operation and overall management of the project’s operations.

Using Motorola Solutions’ WAVE 5000 application, LEX L10 handheld devices and TETRA RADIO Network and handset, Roy Hill operates a highly efficient remote operations centre, where maintaining constant communication between on-site workers and controllers is critical.

The solution has enabled increased interoperability between devices including rugged devices, smartphones, tablets or desktops while maintaining security.

Control room users are now able to securely communicate with Roy Hill’s radio talk groups without having to stay at their work stations.

Communication is also not restricted to voice, with built-in features that enable Roy Hill workers to communicate via text, to share presence and location information, complete logging, audits and reporting, and much more.

Securing business critical communications

In business critical communications security is paramount and security cannot be compromised by bringing a range of different devices onto the network.

WAVE’s inbuilt encryption helps to maintain that security. In Roy Hill’s case, the LEX L10 devices used as part of the solution also contain encryption as standard.

This level of security provides the means and comfort to have ‘operational conversations’ over the network. “Encrypted security ensures the commercial and operational integrity of the data. It’s a competitive environment. Operational conversations happen over the radio so we want to know that these are secure,” said Kevin Atkinson, Manager of the IT Program at Roy Hill.

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