In order to effectively manage safety and productivity in a modern mine, it is vital that ground and water movement are continually monitored. In order to do this, geotechnical and hydrology monitoring instruments are placed at various locations in and around the mine.
In some mines, data is then collected manually by mine personnel who move from instrument to instrument, writing readings down or downloading information to a handheld. This method does work, and data is indeed collected, but it is a very slow, error-prone and labour-intensive process.
When data is collected manually, there is also a delay before it can be uploaded to a PC and interpreted. This can result in mine engineers responding fairly slowly to a developing situation that threatens mine safety and productivity.
A far more efficient way to perform geotechnical monitoring is to have all of the instruments (sensors) connected to a central network so that data can be interpreted, viewed and reacted to in real time by mine engineers.
Of course, this means that a host of sensors scattered all over the site have to be connected to the network. Running kilometres of cabling across the mine has historically been the method employed to automate the data collection, but can prove impractical from a cost or maintenance perspective. The damage to the cabling due to mining activities can result in a staggering amount of down-time and maintenance on the system.
The best option for geotechnical monitoring is a wireless mesh network where up to 3 sensors (geotechnical monitoring instruments) can be connected to an MDT-RTU wireless node (remote terminal unit) from Mine Design Technologies.
These RTUs then relay data from node to node until it reaches an Ethernet gateway and enters the mine’s ethernet LAN (local area network), from which it can be easily accessed by engineering staff using custom software packages like MDT’s MineMonitor and MineHop suites.