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Unlocking the Benefits of Private Networks for Mining Operations 


Unlocking the Benefits of Private Networks for Mining Operations 

dump truck carrying rock - benefits of private networks for mining

The $2 trillion global mining industry is one of the most challenging, particularly when it comes to profitability, safety, and regulatory compliance. Complex on-site operations require significant expenditures in machinery and well-trained personnel. Mining operations can be dangerous, with personnel operating heavy machinery being exposed to dangers such as hazardous gases, and more. Mines are often required to comply with extensive regulations governing operations, management of waste material, site surveying, and environmental regulations.  

Private wireless networks offer the ability to address these operational challenges, providing significant benefits for mining operations. By leveraging private wireless networks, mining operators can improve profitability and increase efficiency with technologies such as autonomous vehicles. Safety can be improved with remote monitoring via sensors. Improved data capturing capabilities from on-site devices can enable faster and more efficient data gathering to meet regulatory compliance requirements.  

However, there are significant challenges associated with private wireless network deployments in mining environments. Complex operations both above and below ground usually include a variety of obstructions that can lower signal strength and reliability. Private networks must be accurately designed and deployed to deliver complete coverage and successfully leverage the benefits private wireless networks offer. 

Improve Safety with Remote Monitoring 

Private wireless networks can be used to improve on-site safety in any mining environment.  

The deployment of remote devices like IoT and AI sensors can enhance safety by monitoring and relaying vital operational data for machinery and personnel. In the case of fixed sensors, this can include potential hazards such as gas levels or vibrations. Wearable devices can track things like the wearer’s heart rate and provide communication capabilities.  

But the usefulness of advanced sensors is contingent on a continuous connection, which is difficult to maintain in a mining operation. Mines are highly dynamic environments that operate both above and below ground with numerous sources of fixed and moving signal interference.  

A well-designed private wireless network can bypass these obstacles. By providing the necessary level of both insight and control, safety issues can be accurately assessed, and the network can be designed precisely to compensate for impediments or areas of poor connectivity.  

Increase Profitability by Improving Efficiency 

Private wireless networks enable operators to increase profitability by improving the efficiency of processes involved in daily operations.  

For example, with an accurately designed private wireless network, on-site communications can be made more efficient and reliable. Connected resources such as remote sensors, tablets, and computers get continuous access, which makes users more productive.  

The integration of AI and IoT technologies can also be used to automate mundane, repetitive tasks with remote, autonomous equipment. A properly designed wireless network ensures that these machines always operate efficiently in all areas.  reducing the need for additional personnel to operate the equipment.   

High Throughput, Low Latency

These use cases require connections to high-throughput, low-latency networks. A private wireless network delivers the kind of low-latency connectivity that is needed. The network can be tailored to the site’s unique topology and communications requirements to ensure it meets operational needs. With the reliable connectivity provided by a private network, mining operators can be sure that the network will provide the consistent coverage and high performance necessary to take advantage of both present and future technologies.  

But the complexity of layouts and presence of deep pits and long tunnels pose significant coverage challenges for network designers. A poorly designed network will have dead zones and areas of poor connectivity. Dead zones limit on-site communications and prevent continuous access for both user-controlled and autonomous devices. A well-designed network eliminates these pitfalls and enables operators to leverage any communications technology to improve operations. 

mining workers

Demonstrate Regulatory Compliance with Continuous Connectivity 

To demonstrate regulatory compliance, mining operators must be able to gather and store large amounts of data on a continuous basis before bundling it together into reports. This process can be manual, but often relies on environmental sensors likely to be scattered throughout a site to gather data.  

As described earlier, the very nature of a mining site poses obvious challenges for connectivity. And gaps in the data gathering process will result in gaps in reporting, which can be costly for mining operations.  

Private networks provide the level of granular control necessary to maintain connectivity with devices scattered throughout a mine. Network designers can customize and update networks as needed to ensure remote devices remain operational irrespective of where they are placed or moved. 

Private networks can also provide the high bandwidth and low latency needed for cloud-connected data gathering and computing. This provides data backups, and reporting can be done from anywhere on a site.  

Ensure Accurate Network Design with iBwave Private Networks 

Without a precise, comprehensive design, private wireless networks won’t be able to deliver any of the benefits described above. But making sure that network coverage extends everywhere it’s needed is a difficult task in an environment as challenging as a mining site. A poorly designed network will either be under designed and fail to deliver these benefits or overdesigned adding additional, unnecessary costs.  

iBwave Private Networks delivers the simplest and most reliable solution for planning, designing, and delivering private, high-performance networks for mining operations.  

Large environment modeling enables network designers to capture the full picture of a site. 5G/HetNet densification enables designers to consider both outdoor and indoor coverage with one tool, leveraging existing design asset files without costly file migrations. Advanced and powerful features such as the Fast Ray Tracing Prediction Engine, Prediction Calibration, Inclined Surface Modeling, and Attenuation by Frequency ensure the network that is designed functions exactly as intended. Plus, cloud connectivity and seamless integration with iBwave Mobile Survey ensures that iBwave can meet all private network needs for any mining operation, present and future.  

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