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How efficient underground communication ensures miners’ safety and increases productivity

mining equipment being monitored by tarcking

Communication in the mining industry

Communication requires connectivity, whether it’s WiFi, leaky feeder systems, 4G/5G, or GPS. Naturally, this is much easier to achieve for above-ground operations and surface mines, where mines can rely on radios and collision avoidance systems to manage productivity and safety.

Things get more difficult when it comes to underground mining, especially with many mining excavations going deeper. It wouldn’t be feasible to reply on standard radio technology so deep underground, and satellite-based positioning systems won’t function. This is where communication in the mining industry has developed innovative solutions to ensure that teams underground are in continuous, reliable communication with the surface and each other.

Underground communication

Mining fixed phones and radios that function underground will typically require an underground leaky feeder network to stay connected. Communication systems developed specifically for the mining industry will feature benefits such as man-down/no-movement detection for lone worker safety, and a rugged enclosure so that it can work effectively in an environment.

The Pyott-Boone Electronics (PBE) Page BossTM mine page phone series offers some of the most advanced and rugged communications solutions for underground mining available on the market. The company has continued to become an industry leader in the mining sector since its founding in 1971, with acquisitions such as Minecom and Mine Radio Systems Inc (MRS).

Communication underground does not need to be compromised. PBE’s Leaky Feeder System can be customized for a mine’s requirements to ensure that radio coverage and data communication is optimised, ensuring maximized productivity and safety. PBE two-way radio systems, including fixed phones and handheld radios, offer complete communication coverage at mining sites, both above and below ground.

The Page Boss series is comprised of a broad portfolio of communication solutions offering different features suitable for different areas of a mine, which can be combined to build an extensive and comprehensive communication network.

All providing clear and undistorted communication even underground, PBE offers products such as the Model 112 page phone, which features a sounder strobe for increased audible and visual alerts in noisy working areas, the model 111 Page Boss with a bullhorn speaker, and the waterproof Model 117 Page Boss, as well as the model 140 Page Boss with a touch-tone keypad that can make calls through the Model 139 phone coupler or operate as a standard 12 VDC paging phone.

Underground communication solution distributors

There are a lot of mining communication solutions on the market, so finding the most effective and suitable product for each area of a mine can be a challenge. As experts in mining safety, Carroll Technologies has searched the market for only the best quality communication solutions and works with customers to meet the specific requirements of their mine.

PBE turnkey products are available through Carroll Technologies’ online mining store, and for customized communication solutions Carroll is well-positioned to offer independent advice about which products are best suited to a particular application.

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GPS and the mining industry

application of gps in the mining indutry

Location tracking GPS in mining

Satellite-based location tracking with GPS reduces the time surveyors need to spend in the field in vulnerable locations and enables the central control station to always know the location of each vehicle in the fleet. Continual tracking means that the location of vehicles can be constantly monitored, making it easier to track and record incidents, manage operations, and prevent hazards.

Collision avoidance and proximity alert systems may use GPS in addition to other tracking methods so that vehicles and personnel are always protected at any part of the mine, even if one tracking method fails. The collision avoidance system from PBE uses EM (electromagnetics), RFID, GPS and bi-directional radar for accuracy that can be configured to recognise different groups (such as vehicle types or personnel). The GPS receiver allows for surface tracking and defining site Geofencing.

Geofencing allows mines to set virtual perimeters, such as blast zones, emergency areas, no-go zones, and monitoring speed limits. Operators are able to monitor when personnel or vehicles enter various areas of a mine, as well as set up automated notifications for situations such as a worker accidentally entering a blast zone.

Underground GPS tracking

GPS has become more widely used for open-pit and surface mines. As GPS devices cannot receive direct line-of-site access to satellites underground, solutions such as leaky feeder communication systems and radio frequency identification (RFID) are typically used. Providing real-time tracking will usually involve using a redundant system, such as PBE’s collision avoidance system, that utilises GPS along with other technologies for full coverage.

Carroll Technologies is ideally positioned to provide custom installation of collision avoidance systems and offers factory-authorized repair and certification, as well as rapid response for mining emergencies, expert around the clock technical support, an extensive spare parts inventory, and training for equipment from major manufacturers.

For more information about collision avoidance systems or PBE equipment, call Carroll Technologies on 606-573-1000 or send an enquiry here.