Communications for Mining: Improving Safety and Efficiency

Sepura
Friday, 13 January, 2023


Communications for Mining: Improving Safety and Efficiency

In large mining environments, where critical communications are essential both above and below ground, miners’ communication systems are a vital link back to the control room and to team members or other colleagues, providing the capability to warn of any issue through voice but also through automated features or via data sharing.

Mining environments are often dirty, wet, dusty or a combination of all three. Vision and awareness can be limited and the noise of machinery can be overwhelming. In this environment, a miner’s radio is their crucial connection to get advice or help, to warn colleagues and to help maintain site safety.

Mines are frequently dirty, dusty or wet, which can be a risk to onsite equipment. Image credit: iStock.com/hsvrs

However, more than providing a voice connection, the radio can use powerful data connectivity to help improve the teams’ operational awareness, improving both safety and efficiency. Examples of this type of connectivity could include:

Connection to Safety Equipment

Radios can be connected to existing safety connection via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. This can mean that crucial warnings, for example from gas detection devices or door lock systems, can be alerted to the user but also shared via the radio network to other team members.

Enabling Safe And Secure Site Access

Radios can enable access to secure areas, for example into blast zones, explosive stores, operational zones or specific buildings. Radios can interact with Bluetooth or RFID tags, or create automated actions when crossing geofences, to ensure smooth, safe access is enabled.

Share Status And Location

Radios can report a user’s location and their status, whether outdoors, indoors or even underground, meaning workers with the availability and necessary skills can be efficiently and quickly deployed.

Protect Lone Workers

Radios can detect if a lone worker has been hurt or incapacitated, sending a warning to nearby colleagues to ensure help is requested quickly.

Solutions to suit user needs

Handling Mass Data

Use of a broadband critical communications device can further enhance this capability, by enabling mass data to be utilised. Examples of this could be streamed video from a body cam or drone, providing better situational awareness to all key staff. Using either a secure Wi-Fi or a 4G/5G connection, the ability to transfer still images or video is a significant leap forward in the capability of critical communications devices, but crucially still comes in the robust package demanded by users in the field.

Drones can be used to improve situational awareness on mining sites. Image credit: iStock.com/GI_ELLE

Underground or Extensive Outdoor Sites

Sepura offers TETRA solutions in both UHF and VHF frequencies. VHF signals carry further in open spaces, enabling a cost-effective but powerful TETRA solution that provides crystal clear audio. Below ground, the greater signal propagation of the VHF frequencies proves ideal, providing complete coverage in dangerous environments where safety is paramount.

Meanwhile, UHF frequencies work well in built up areas and around large structures. Sepura can offer either VHF or UHF networks, or even hybrid solutions, based upon the customers’ particular needs and site geography.

VHF TETRA improves coverage in dangerous underground locations, ensuring operations can continue and downtime is minimised.

Staff Safety

Both TETRA and LTE solutions allow for automated actions from the radio. These enable users to focus on key actions while the radio performs simple maintenance tasks. These can be made to suit the operation, but examples could include:

  • Talkgroup changes based on geolocation triggers
  • Registering a pool user with a specific employee
  • Creating alerts based on data, for example expiry of safety certificates, training needs or similar
Tough Accessories to Last and Last

Designed in conjunction with users, Sepura’s accessories are designed to perform again and again in harsh environments. Long-lasting batteries maintain service across long shifts and can be charged repeatedly without performance degradation, while audio accessories provide loud, clear audio and environmental protection in harsh environments.

Charging accessories are flexible, based around users’ needs, with desk and vehicle-based options along with mass charging facilities. The vehicle accessories provide an identical user interface to hand portable radios, supporting users on the move.

Sepura radios and accessories will keep working even in hot, dirty environments.

For more information and to arrange a trial of Sepura products, please contact www.sepura.com.

Top image credit: iStock.com/qwerty01

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