Wireless mesh sensor networks in mines are used to monitor the status of the physical environment within the mine (rock, soil, water etc.) and to highlight changes, especially those that have the potential to disrupt mine operations or pose a safety hazard if not responded to quickly and effectively.
The basis of a mining mesh sensor network is an array of autonomous sensors that are integrated into diverse types of geomechanical and other monitoring instruments deployed throughout the mine.
These sensors are then linked to wireless nodes (e.g. MDT-RTU, VW-RTU or SAA-RTU). Each node can connect to and share information with all other nodes that are within range, forming an ad hoc or “mesh” wireless network.
Data generated by the sensors within or on the various instruments is then looped from node to node through the wireless mesh sensor network until it reaches the final node that is attached to an Ethernet gateway, which is in turn connected directly into the mine’s Ethernet/LAN network.
From this point, the data moves through the LAN until it reaches a server, where dedicated software collates, analyzes and presents the data in a usable form. This data is accessible to mine engineers via devices connected to the network, or if an optional web interface is used, via a mobile device from anywhere there is an internet connection.
Wireless mesh sensor network technology continues to develop and expand, and this type of monitoring system is becoming more common in modern mines. This is a very good thing, as effective monitoring is one of the keys to keeping mines as safe as possible and ensuring ongoing productivity is not compromised.