Autonomous Mining Connectivity

With an increased need for automation, the mining industry has been very receptive to new technologies and are transforming their IT networks to enable new applications, such as autonomous vehicles, equipment, and software tools.
As technology advances, the tools and machinery that support how mining organisations run is changing, with environmental concerns and efficiencies influencing decisions. One major way that mining has adapted is by leading the way in the development and testing of autonomous solutions.

Autonomous mining starts out with light vehicles like autonomous trucks for things like personnel transport, but initiatives like these are set to spread and accelerate. In many ways this is just the beginning for how autonomous systems can enhance mining operations. Firstly, the types of autonomous equipment will expand to include trucks, trains, loaders, diggers, haulers, and crushers. Everything from drilling to blasting will one day be able to be handled using fully autonomous equipment. Secondly, automation can stretch beyond equipment to other processes and operations, such as engineering, production, scheduling, and other business-supporting activities.

One major value in autonomous mining is safety reasons. In such complicated terrain, large machinery can fail at any time. The risk can only be minimized through unmanned mining by enabling equipment and machinery to function without requiring manual operation, especially regarding autonomous driving.

Another advantage is in increased productivity. As tasks like autonomous hauling can operate around the clock, operations can run for longer hours. By delegating some jobs to automation, workers can concentrate on higher priority, higher complexity tasks. Autonomous vehicles can improve productivity in other ways, as well. Because their usage is more predictable, managing aspects like machinery maintenance, fuel consumption, and utilization rate becomes much more precise.

A final area addressed by autonomous mining efforts is the rising cost of workers and shortage of skilled labour. By reducing the direct workforce and support staff at a site, mining operations can use autonomous mining to lower operating costs and stay competitive.

The Challenge

For autonomous fleets to flourish in the mining industry reliable connectivity is key. Underground mining environments and their constantly shifting tunnel networks present specific challenges for delivering the communication signals across blind production areas that autonomous vehicles require. The narrow drifts and galleries require special attention and foresight not necessary in open-air outdoor sites.

There are also other factors at play, as leaders still need to ensure autonomous mining solutions maintain operational efficiency, product quality, and safety objectives. In order to obtain real time visibility to production systems and assets in an operational environment, networking technologies must provide that rich stream of data. In this view, network connectivity is the linchpin to the progress of the autonomous worksite. The extent that autonomous mining can be successful depends on how the supporting network is built and deployed.

The right network architecture will support multiple autonomous operation services as a foundation to securely connect and digitize mining production environments. To achieve improved business through autonomous mining solutions, outcomes leaders in the mining industry need a secure, robust communications infrastructure.

The Redline Solution:

Redline Communications’ fit-for-purpose technology, coupled with detailed operational knowledge and a means to demonstrate innovation and capabilities, is a key competitive differentiator to assist mining companies in transforming their operational processes. In addition, the ability to lower operational costs, improve productivity and availability to critical information can be realized from our industrial LTE network and virtual fiber. Mining companies will be able to implement a purpose-built, ruggedized, secure solution with complete control over their QoS.
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Private iLTE

Redline iLTE is a compact, complete LTE system that can be rapidly deployed anywhere. Redline iLTE is a comprehensive suite of private LTE products and services that combine to deliver security, flexibility, scalability and durability to the mobile network. iLTE provides a turnkey approach to private LTE with its rapid deployment and ease of management.
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Virtual Fiber®

Redline’s award-winning Virtual FiberTM wireless access products are built for extreme reliability and performance. These products can be used in the toughest environmental conditions, rated to operate between -40° to +75°C for fixed point-to-point and point-to-multipoint communications and nomadic applications. They provide secure and reliable high-speed connectivity in these challenging, isolated locations, and over rough non-line-of-sight terrain.
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RedCare is Redline’s portfolio of warranty, protection and support plans and is available with each of our offerings, designed to safeguard service continuity for Redline solutions and give our customers the peace of mind knowing your Redline products are being kept at optimal performance.

Surface or underground mining companies that are undertaking digital mine transformation by implementing applications, such as autonomous vehicles along with other future applications that require a robust network solution with an effective ROI (Return on Investment) and total cost of ownership (TCO). The right network architecture within an underground mining environment will enable the application of remote operations and autonomous vehicles into the future.