BLOG: Smart Mining Private-LTE transforms automation in mines

The mining industry is heading rapidly towards modernization, with smart mining operations increasing threefold by 2025. Automation is playing a key function in this transformation and has the potential to increase productivity and improve safety and working conditions. Transportation in mines is a repetitive task that is well suited to autonomous vehicles which operate around the clock. Private cellular networks connect those vehicles to coordinate paths and exchange mission-critical information. 

The biggest challenge this presents is recognising the challenges of radio propagation within the mine and modelling the variables. For example, the transmitters and receivers are constantly on the move which can cause reflections, scattering and other diffraction phenomena. In addition, the terrain within the mine is constantly changing. Modelling the impact of these changes on network coverage needs to be managed frequently, otherwise, operators run the risk of communication failures.

ATDI works with many of the world’s largest mine operators, providing network planning and modelling expertise in the form of software solutions, consultancy services and custom training. These solutions reduce the risk associated with the ever-changing terrain and allow operators to automate their coverage plans regularly. ATDI’s flagship radio planning software, HTZ Communications features key functions that are well suited to managing the issues facing open-mine operators.

Prospective planning: Understanding the impact of terrain changes is essential to network planning. HTZ Communications features a prospective planning function to allow operators to model these challenges over a given period. These plans can include the best location for fixed transmitters and the best coverage achieved. Operators can manage their activities more efficiently and remove the risk of communication failures. Identifying communication not-spots allows operators to use gap fillers or trailers to fill areas without coverage.

Automation: Mine operators use scanners or sensors to monitor terrain changes within the mine. Using HTZ Communications, operators can import the updated maps into the software which triggers their conversion into the right format. Once imported, the software automatically calculates coverage and then produces a composite coverage based on the changes within the mine. Functions like identifying the best servers, composite coverage and coverage overlapping are also supported. In addition, SINR throughputs for LTE and 5G networks can also be automated. The results from these calculations are exported in KMZ and TIF/TFW files and are published via a display engine in the Operation Centre. By automating workflows, users can make time and resource efficiencies and reduce the risk of errors in repetitive manual processes.Autonomous vehicles

Accuracy: ATDI’s propagation engine defies laws of physics. The tool has proven to deliver highly accurate predictions, outperforming other planning tools that have evolved from the classic mobile telco needs in urban and suburban environments. ATDI’s propagation engine is well suited to open-cut mines and deep pits. The latest measurements in open-cut mines show a correlation exceeding 95% with less than 1.5 dB margin of error.

HTZ Communications is a leading radio planning and modelling tool used by mine operators around the globe. This advanced software solution features automatic radio network planning for any technology from 10KHz to 450GHz. HTZ features an extensive library of propagation models, for modelling any technology in almost every environment, including outdoor to indoor penetration. Its GIS engine converts high-resolution datasets like .shp files into ATDI format, allowing easy import into the tool. Native support is available for GIS exchange format. Site component management features allow users to set up antenna parameters, identify the best locations for transmitters and generate interference maps. The software automates workflows for more repetitive tasks, providing cost and time-saving efficiencies.

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