More and more mine owners and operators are realizing the benefits of having automated geotechnical monitoring systems in their mines. These systems automatically gather relevant information from sensors located all over the mine and move the data to a central control point, where it can be assessed and used to make operational decisions that ensure the mine runs smoothly and safely.
One of the choices mine operators will be faced with when deciding on the type of geotechnical monitoring system to install is whether to use a cabled system or to go wireless. Of these two choices, wireless is definitely the better option, for a number of reasons.
Some of the advantages wireless geotechnical monitoring systems have over cabled (tethered) systems include:
- Very low installation and maintenance costs. Without kilometres of cable to fit and regularly check for damage, wireless systems are quick and easy to fit and look after.
- Reliable and hard to damage. In a typical wireless geotechnical monitoring system, the instruments are flush-mounted and then connected in sets of 3 to wireless nodes (MDT-RTU). These nodes are small and rugged, so they are easy to install out of harm’s way. There is no cable to get snagged or pulled out of the instrument connectors.
- Low energy consumption. MDT-RTUs are self-powered, so there is no need for electricity supply and they do not add to the mine’s electricity cost. Additionally, their internal batteries only need changing approximately every three years.
- Long lasting, i.e. extended infrastructure lifespan. Due to their simplicity, wireless units do not easily wear out and will give many years of faithful service
- The network is fully scalable and can be easily added to. As new sections are added to the mine, extra sensors and nodes can simply be fitted. As the MDT-RTUs are connected up and switched on, they automatically join the wireless mesh network.