Wireless monitoring in underground mines overcomes several infrastructural challenges.
Due to the increasingly easy availability of hi-tech geotechnical instruments, electronic monitoring of ground and other conditions in and around the mine is the norm for many mine engineers. However, in some types of installation, this can mean personnel having to move around a lot in order to collect data from a vast array of instruments using hand-held data collection devices.
There is a far more efficient way, though, to perform this type of monitoring: connect all of the monitoring instruments to a wireless network that allows data to be collected centrally.
One of the challenges that many mines face in wanting to switch over to a wireless monitoring network is that many shafts and tunnels aren’t equipped with existing wireless communications infrastructure (e.g. RF leaky feeder networks). This is especially true of newer areas of the mine, which may contain shafts and tunnels that are deeper and longer than ever before.
To keep pace with technology, mines are also using digital data solutions more and more. However, this presents similar problems, as it may not be feasible to cover the whole mine with a conventional LAN or Wi-Fi network.
A third complication is that the electrical infrastructure to power the sensors and related wireless equipment may not be available where required.
Fortunately, there is a solution that solves all of these problems – a wireless mesh network based on wireless nodes like the MDT-RTU. Because these devices are battery-powered, there is no need for electrical wiring (and a single set of batteries will typically last for up to three years).
Each node can be connected to up to three geotechnical instruments, and data is moved from one node to the next until it reaches a network gateway that feeds it into the mine’s existing LAN network. Because each wireless node is standalone but can automatically communicate with any other node within range, these networks are very easy to install and can be rapidly scaled up as requirements change.