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As covered in previous blogs, the performance of a mine’s wireless network typically decreases with time. This is caused by a number of factors, but one of the most common is a lack of dedicated personnel. It’s often someone’s part-time job to ‘keep the network up and running’.
Initially this may be fine, but over the course of time leads to a network with a design that creeps from the original intentions, and whose performance is unsustainable.
The good news is that maintaining performance of your wireless network doesn’t necessarily require hiring and managing a full time on-site team.
Instead, and depending on the criticality of your network, the 5 following tips will help you ensure uptime of your network without the need to in-source full time network administration personnel.
1. Design for the mining environment, deploy with scalability in mind
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to deploying a wireless network for the mining environment. However, there are a few principles that will help you deploy a highly-performing wireless network for your mine.
i. Design for the environment
ii. Design for the applications
iii. Design for the future
At 3D-P, when working on a new design, our team starts by assessing our customers’ communication and data requirements, and building a profile based on network performance and application integration needs prior to discussing the optimal technology.
Our three-layer network design approach – Client Access, Distribution and Backhaul – ensures peak performance of your wireless network, even when a device fails, through a high level of redundancy. This design also provides the necessary level of scalability to support your expansion efforts when time comes.
2. Proactively monitor performance of your wireless network
More often than not, performance degradation of your wireless network is incremental, and is the result of a many small changes made over time. What if you could proactively monitor the performance of your network through alarms, notifications, proactive network adjustments and remediation information directly from a mining-experienced and industry leading support team?
At 3D-P, we provide just that solution. Our Managed Services remove the requirement for a dedicated on-site team by transferring the monitoring and troubleshooting responsibilities to the 3D-P Support team, who can then guide your local IT, electrical, or engineering teams on any required efforts needed to maintain performance of your network. The solution goes even further by standardizing the management and configuration of your network, remotely, significantly simplifying the cost and complexity of its ongoing support.
Going further, 3D-P’s NPAT-as-a-Service allows you to visualize the performance and layout of their wireless network at any specific moment in time, providing previously unattainable insight into and control over the evolution of your network over time.
3. Regularly check your installations with a site audit
As your mine operates, components will inevitably break or fail, to be replaced by a field technician. While remote monitoring will ensure you remain aware of any changes in the performance or configuration of your network, a site audit will guarantee the physical components of your network are optimally selected and installed.
Personnel turnover is part of any operations. The issue that comes with it is that best practices for parts and installation practices evolve with time, and carryover of information as personnel changes is not always guaranteed. The result: selection of inappropriate components for the mining environment and/or installation at an unsuitable location, resulting in frequent replacement and downtime of your equipment.
As part of our quarterly site audit, we perform physical check of infrastructure locations and installation quality, compare them against industry standards and best practices, and report on our findings.
4. Perform basic RF training
Whilst RF personnel might not be a necessity at all sites, having a number of resources trained on the basic principles of RF in the mining environment can help significantly reduce troubleshooting time, even when relying on 3D-‘s Support Team.
At 3D-P, we provide hands on training around the principles of RF for the mining environment and the technology deployed at site.
5. Optional embedded resources
When you require mission critical performance of your wireless network – for example when deploying an autonomous fleet – 3D-P can support your effort by providing an embedded resource.
Leveraging the tools from our remote monitoring solution with the onsite physical presence, the embedded resource will help you achieve optimal deployment and maintenance of your wireless network by proactively accessing your wireless network data, making the necessary changes in person in real time and constantly communicating with the different teams involved in the current and future operations of your mine.
To learn more on how 3D-P can help you support performance of your wireless network, contact us today.