Leaky feeder system for mine communications

29 June 2018 | Web Article Number: ME201810369

Electrical & Electronics
Mining & Quarrying
Leaky feeder system for mine communications

THE Becker Smartcom VHF leaky feeder system offers mines multiple simultaneous voice and data radio channels, with low intermodulation noise levels, to ensure clear and reliable communications underground.

That’s according to Andrew Trentelman, Senior General Manager: Electronics, Becker Mining South Africa. “The Smartcom VHF leaky feeder system has been designed with local diagnostics via three on-board LED indicators as standard,” he said.

“This unit facilitates fault finding and system troubleshooting, by quickly being able to identify the faulty component, thus reducing downtime and repair costs. This amplifier is suitable for smaller installations, where remote diagnostics may not be necessary.

“Remote diagnostics provides critical system information helping in system maintenance, troubleshooting and overall system confidence. Mines are usually remote to major cities and established infrastructure, which makes access to communication specialists and services difficult for the mining sector.”

Trentelman said the majority of Smartcom installations worldwide make use of Becker’s industry leading remote diagnostic amplifier.

This unit has the functionality to send information to a server installed on the surface, enabling a control room operator to retrieve relevant information, such as DC line voltage, downstream RF power, the automatic gain control / manual gain control modes and attenuator settings via a web-based user interface.

This is particularly useful in the event of a system fault, as the operator can easily identify precisely where the problem is and what equipment may be needed to repair the fault.

“Smartcom VHF leaky feeder systems, which have been installed in mines throughout the world, are known for dependable performance and low maintenance requirements. This system can be upgraded at any time, within budget restraints, to suit the changing needs of every mine. With the simple installation of an upgrade kit, advancement of the system is completed on site.”

The web-based software is available with OPC server connectivity, allowing maximum inter-operability with other SCADA/HMI applications or any other OPC compatible client, such as Becker’s own MineView software application package. Becker Mining SA also offers multiple tagging and tracking solutions, including RFID and WiFi based systems, which can provide real-time location for asset and personnel tracking. Data that is captured can be used as a method of controlling costs by defining production inefficiencies and ensuring equipment is available when it is needed.

These tagging and tracking systems also improve safety on the mines, by being able to quickly locate personnel in the event of an emergency.

The RFID system can be implemented into existing Smartcom leaky feeder networks with the use of the in-line data module and built-in tag reader, with no need for any major network upgrades or replacements. The in-line data module is used as the interface to transfer all tagging and tracking data to the main server.

Becker Mining SA has developed a wide array of WiFi devices to support increasing market demand. The Wireless Router Access Point (WRAP) is an electronic device for connecting wireless terminal devices with an Ethernet fiber-optic network. By using the WRAP in conjunction with Becker’s WiFi tags, a complete tagging and tracking solution can be configured to monitor assets and personnel.

The WiFi network’s applications go far beyond tagging and tracking and can include wireless VoIP, seamless roaming of client devices i.e. PDAs and laptops, advanced vehicular dispatch systems, industrial serial communication devices, process automation and any device which can utilise a wireless, serial or fiber backbone.

MineView offers efficient solutions - including modern 2D and 3D displays - for process visualisation and continuous monitoring in all areas of a production plant, enabling the user to respond appropriately to every event. Process data is stored in a database (DB) via an OPC interface. MineView enables data to be called up, evaluated and visualised in a clear and attractive manner for various user groups. By defining rules, the user is able to directly influence process-specific events.

MineView has recently been implemented in conjunction with the Smartcom leaky feeder system and Kenwood software development kit (SDK) to create a complete solution in a single software package. This includes leaky feeder system diagnostics with graphical layout and personnel and asset tagging and tracking with message, alarm and man-down emergency notifications.

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