Communication networks are critical to any operation and thanks to the latest advances mine operators and mine project managers now have access to an array of technologies for better information flow and lower operation costs.
As the mining sector moves towards more remotely controlled operations, and with fewer skilled operators onsite, mine operators are rapidly turning to new communications and security technologies, according to Downer Security & Network Services (DSNS) project manager, Gavin Aquino.
“Mining engineers play a critical role in on-site mine planning and operations, but access to skilled staff willing to work in remote locations is often difficult,” he said.
“Not only is the latest communication technology overcoming skills shortages, the emergence of remote operation centres is giving mine operators and project managers more visibility and remote control of equipment on site.
“Demand has been particularly strong for more Closed-Circuit television (CCTV) and high capacity backbone networks.”
Tele-conferencing, tele-presence - video and audio, desktop sharing, visualisation technology to share two and three dimensional mining data, CCTV, online document management, web collaboration and project management software are just some of the applications improving communication between off-site and on-site personnel and reducing operation costs.
One of the biggest trends in communications technology, says Gavin, has been the migration of CCTV, access, security and communications into the Internet Protocol (IP) environment.
“As a key service provider in this space from the beginning, we've developed an extensive and intimate knowledge of wireless communications networks – particularly in regards to IP; we were IP savvy from the start as opposed to learning IP from an analogue background,” he said.
One of the main challenges facing mine operators and mineproject managers, says Aquino, is finding cost-effective and innovativesolutions for their communications.
Mobile solar-poweredsecurity units
In response to demands from mine operators to monitor plant and equipment in remote locations, Downer Security and Network Services (DSNS) has developed mobile solar-powered security units for a variety of security,communications and wireless applications.
Several major mining companies have approached DSNS toanalyse and develop their current infrastructure to support these technologies.
DSNS has implemented a mobile solar CCTV and wireless project for the Sunrise Dam mine site. This included full wireless Mesh and CCTV mounted to heavy-duty purpose-built trailers.
The units were implemented to monitor the day-to-day operations of the pit and included full commissioning of switchgear, server and storage devices.
“These units are fully self-sufficient and require minimal maintenance,” Aquino said.
“Units can be customised and are mine-site ready with full internal wire loom for security.”
The security mobile unit for a mine site is housed on asingle axle, heavy-duty trailer with adjustable tow bar.
The mast is hydraulically operated from the control panel via an independent 12V controller that can extend the mast to 9m. The mast can be rotated 360 degrees. The unit has four wind-down stabilising legs and a safety release valve for the hydraulic System.
The fully galvanized, heavy-duty single axle trailer for this security mobile unit for a mine site has a breakaway safety system; 50mm ball hitch; new wheels, tyres and metal mudguards; adjustable tow bar designed for standard vehicles, 4x4 or truck towing; 2 x wheel and rim assembly. It is registered for the road with an LED indicator and tail lights. It also has forklift tunnels and a central lifting point for easy mobilisation.
The canopy on the security mobile unit for a mine site is lockable and sound attenuated with a weatherproof enclosure. It is powder coated with a hard wearing paint finish that provides longer life protection.
This security mobile unit on a road ready trailer is CE approved and made to meet Australian mining conditions. It is certified for wind stability to 110km/h - panel mounted at Base.
The electrical configuration of the security mobile unit for a mine site has 190 watt BP 24VDC wired solar panels, 60 Watt Yingli 12VDC wired solar panels, Dingo Regulated 20A/20A solar/ power regulator and 435Ah battery packs as standard based on 24VDC System.
Case study: Accessgate upgrade at key port
On behalf of Downer, Karl Cook partook in the quoting and overall design process for a front gate upgrade at the Kwinana Bulk Terminal.
The design of the gate system was one that needed to, at minimum, ‘mimic’ the existing gates but also integrate new IP based equipment seamlessly for future proof requirements into all existing systems associated.
Installation included cameras, intercoms, access control, gates and equipment cubicles.
All new bollards and equipment cubicles were designed and constructed by Downer Security with advice from Fremantle Port Authority representatives.
As the Kwinana Bulk Terminal is classified as a mine site, extra preventative measures were engaged to ensure that all equipment and staff met the conditions required.
As a part of this, and from previous experience, Downer Security ensured that all vehicles, safety regulations, Health and Environmental standards were adhered.
The design of the installation meant that there was a need for new infrastructure including: security communications cabinet, conduits to the specific locations, new traffic management bollards, new camera pole,integration over wireless to the inner harbour and final commissioning.
Case study: Rail security on track
Downer Security, in a joint venture with other Downer departments, was retained to complete works associated with the Public Transport Authority and Main Roads WA CCTV Combined Project – Mandurah Link.
This was a major project for Downer and involved installation of the following equipment at more than 30 sites along the Kwinana freeway: civil works, CCTV, camera poles, wire rope barriers, fibre optic cables, location cases, alternative power supplies - lithium batteries - andall ancillary equipment.
The cameras required connections to their own individual networks but shared a common pole at each site.
The Transport Authority also had a number of train stations located along this stretch.
The authority allocated eight cores of a 96 core Fibre OpticCable running along the length of the freeway by Main Roads WA to use for theirCCTV Cameras.
Various node cabinets from existing Main roads CCTV wereused to interlink the Main Roads CCTV equipment to their DVTEL head-end.
Downer implemented all integration works from Public Transport Authority and Main Roads WA networks incorporating civil works, fibre optic cabling, network equipment and excavation of the existing pavement.