The mining industry continues to face significant challenges with increased emphasis on productivity and regulation in terms of safety. The growing trend toward automation fuels the requirement for miners to adopt a data‐driven approach to operations. A key enabler for both productivity and safety is the ability to accurately locate all mining assets. Minetec has developed a modular product portfolio to assist in the safe operations of the mine, as well as a suite of tools to measure and optimise productivity.
A key underlying technology in Minetec’s safety and productivity solutions is WASP (wireless ad‐hoc system for positioning). The WASP technology was developed in conjunction with CSIRO and has been commercially certified, adapted and ruggedised for mining by Minetec. WASP technology has been engineered into two of Minetec’s product lines: Trax and SafeDetect.
WASP sensors consist of dual software defined radios – 2.4 GHz (Wi‐Fi) and 5.8 GHz (WASP) – digital processors and INS sensors (inertial navigation). The WASP algorithm provides highly accurate distance measurements between neighbouring sensors through measurement of Time of Arrival (to a fraction of a nanosecond). Behaving like a high-precision GPS network underground, the Minetec Trax system can display in real time the location of mobile equipment and personnel against a 3-D map of the mine, either on the surface in the control room, or on a ruggedized tablet mounted within a vehicle anywhere within the mine site. Giving equipment operator’s unprecedented real time situational awareness and visualisation of all assets (equipment and people) within their vicinity to sub-metre level accuracy. In short, allowing equipment operators to see hundreds of metres around corners.
Minetec’s advanced situational and proximity awareness accuracy has been proven in various mines all over the world. These achievements are further endorsed by the fact that CSIRO’s Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies (QCAT) have recently commissioned Minetec to deliver its Trax solution within its centre’s Autonomous Systems facility, which develops new techniques for localisation and the autonomous control of machines.