Autonomous mining fleet needs great WiFi

The Challenge

The efforts of the research and development arm of a global mining operation were stymied because their vehicles were not communicating properly over WiFi. The existing communication infrastructure wasn’t able to run their autonomous vehicles project. The project goal was to remotely operate and monitor fleet maintenance for a sampling of mining vehicles: a haul truck, a dozer, a loader, and three small test vehicles.

The communication system needed to facilitate four things. First, it needed to handle real-time data from sensors monitoring several systems like the fleet management system (FMS); the global positioning system (GPS), the proximity system. Second, it needed to transmit real-time live video feeds. Thirdly, it needed to handle two-way communication for vehicle control commands and feedback. Last, it needed to provide full redundancy from the core to the farthest edges of the more than 20 square mile property. The existing facilities were not up to the challenge of running everything in the mine over WiFi.

The Evaluation

IP Assurance engineers evaluated the project requirements and existing facilities at the R & D Center. The existing wireless infrastructure could not provide the bandwidth or coverage to support the project—a wireless MESH network could.

The Implementation

Our team began with a ground-up redesign and installed new power (power-switches, UPS, electrical busses, and the like) and network fiber distribution systems, along with a fully redesigned data center switch block. Our distributed campus model provided coverage for the entire property.

The final design supported full data, voice, real-time video, surveillance video, and a wireless network to accommodate thousands of employees and hundreds of contractors and temporary workers.

Upon completion, the IT infrastructure:

  • Provided the required bandwidth and coverage for all applications—with room to grow
  • Removed all single points of failure
  • Redundantly connected 10-Gig Core Switches
  • IP phones and Call Managers for better quality of service and reliability, the integration of a 2-way radio system, and the elimination of multiple phone systems

The Result

The MESH deployment allowed the research project to be finished. As well, test results facilitated a full, corporate-wide deployment of the fleet management and vehicle health and maintenance systems.

IP Assurance designed and implemented the infrastructure to facilitate communication to the mobile mining fleet over WiFi. This allows a centrally located fleet dispatcher to track maintenance and monitor driver fatigue, tire wear, and engine health. The fleet system has now been implemented at 11 mine sites in North America, South America, and Africa.

The remote operation portions of the project proved out. Research into the remote operation of autonomous vehicles continues at the proving grounds. The proving grounds are the R&D site operated by a heavy equipment manufacturer—using an IT infrastructure designed and implemented by IP Assurance.

Contact Us to hear more about mining wifi installs.