Network connectivity throughout mines can improve efficiencies, reduce costs and downtime. As mining applications evolve, the reliability of the networks that support them are becoming more critical than ever.
What if we could combine the benefits of a Wi-Fi or Mesh networks with the engineering and licensed characteristics of LTE?
Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) allows businesses to create value by adding intelligence to objects and connecting them to a system that proactively monitors, analyzes and produces valuable outcome.
The mining industry has ever increasing requirements for access to productivity and asset health information from in-pit and mobile devices, allowing the mine to adapt more quickly to changing requirements and conditions in the mine and resulting in greater productivity and safety decisions. The collection of this data from the many connected in-field devices is known as the connected Internet of Things (IoT).
3D-P and iVolve recently completed the initial implementation of a scalable, affordable, open platform asset health solution at the North American Coal’s Sabine Mine, located in Hallsville, Texas.
3D-P is pleased to announce the availability of high performance, cost effective wireless networks for underground mines.
3D-P is proud to announce that, once again, it will exhibit at the upcoming MINExpo International show in Las Vegas, from September 26 to 28, booth # 8807, Central Hall of the Convention Centre.
3D-P today announced the release of the 3D-P Production Reporting and 3D-P Maintenance Reporting systems, powered by iVolve, adding to its current portfolio of Application Integration Solutions and Wireless Network Services.
3D-P has been awarded the contract for the deployment of the wireless network at the Las Bambas Copper project near Cusco, Peru. When operational, Las Bambas is expected to become one of the top three copper producing mines in the world and shipment of the first concentrate is expected in the first quarter of 2016.
3D-P will commence installation of the wireless network in August 2015. The newest 3D-P technology in the form of the e200 Intelligent EndPoint TM with integrated Rajant kinetic mesh wireless network technology (802.11n radio) will be used for the on-board computing and integration of the various applications. The wireless infrastructure solution includes Rajant InstaMeshTM networking protocol, which enables wireless access for all of the mobile fleet as well as a redundant mesh backhaul. The wireless network is also complemented by Cambium backhaul technology to provide the resiliency and high speed deterministic throughputs required to support the scope of applications anticipated for the life of the network.
When completed, the network will provide mine-wide wireless coverage for communication of data and video from the mobile equipment. The highly efficient Rajant InstaMesh TM technology will allow each radio to participate in the mesh, helping maximize wireless performance throughout the mine.
“We are very pleased with the confidence that MMG, the mine operator, has shown in 3D-P. We look forward to partnering with them for the installation of the Las Bambas mine wireless network to provide critical communications with the production fleet. Deployment of the 3D-P Intelligent EndPointsTM and Rajant technology is expected to meet Las Bambas needs well into the future” said Evan Hansen, CEO of 3D-P.
3D-P Leader in Wireless Mining Communications
This new contract confirms 3D-P’s position as the leader in Wireless Mining Communications.
Focusing on mining since 1996, 3D-P offers a unique solution in the market place by filling the gap between the third party applications, enabling their sharing across the wireless network as well as offering reliable wireless network design, installation, optimization and support. 3D-P technology solutions are easy to use, vendor agnostic, allow the customer direct access to their valuable data, and are designed around an open architecture that allows the sharing of onboard resources, minimizing technology clutter. The Intelligent Endpoint TM product line, along with its enabling features such as the integration solutions of the iep-suite of interfacing tools, application hosting capability and ongoing network performance monitoring, provide the mining customer the onboard application capability they desire.
Whether the speed of 802.11n, the security of private LTE cellular, or the flexibility of infrastructure and client meshing is required, 3D-P has the solution.
Its reliability, flexibility and custom solutions explain why over 80 surface mines worldwide have adopted the 3D-P solution.
A Successful Partnership
In November 2014, 3D-P became a Rajant Kinetic Mesh Solution Partner for mining, allowing the company to apply its extensive knowledge of outdoor wireless mesh networking to the deployment of Rajant technology globally.
Rajant Corporation is the exclusive provider of private wireless networks powered by patented Kinetic Mesh technology, BreadCrumb TM network nodes, and InstaMeshTM networking software. With Rajant, customers can rapidly deploy a highly adaptable and scalable network that leverages the power of real-time data to deliver on-demand, critical business intelligence from the field. Rajant BreadCrumbs can seamlessly integrate with any Wi-Fi or Ethernet-connected device to deliver low-latency, high-throughput data, voice and video applications across the meshed, self-healing network. With the ability to take private network applications and data everywhere, Rajant networks are used across a broad array of industries, including military, industrial, transportation, utilities, telecommunications, and all levels of governments. For more information, visit www.rajant.com.
If you would like more information on the 3D-P range of solutions, please call +1.403.203.3018 (Americas), 1800 210 655 (Australia) or visit https://www.3d-p.com.
3D‐P, a leading provider of technology products for the mining industry, is pleased to announce the release of Endpoint Manager 1.4.1 along with the latest firmware releases for the Intelligent Endpoint line.
Endpoint Manager is a software utility that allows administrators to quickly and cost-effectively manage their Intelligent Endpoint™ (IEP) network from a central location. The release of Endpoint Manager 1.4.1 enables the configuration of Intelligent Endpoint functionality in the new firmware release 110715-30, including:
- Broadcast Proxy support for applications such as Modular’s MineCompass moving map display
- Multicast support for applications such as the Terrain Server component of CAT® Minestar™.
- Enhancements to our WLAN Network Interface to optimize the handoff of Intelligent Endpoints as they roam between access points as well as extended security options
- Network Performance Monitoring tools that can provide graphical or a historical view of network performance on the Intelligent Endpoint interfaces
Endpoint Manager also includes an Advanced System Settings configuration tab for an additional “expert” level of remote customization, and tools for creating a second partition on Intelligent Endpoints for data storage.
Customers with an existing Service Level Agreement are entitled to a upgrade their firmware for all their Intelligent Endpoints along with Endpoint Manager 1.4.1 at no charge providing they have already purchased an earlier release.
All firmware loads and software mentioned will be made available to download to qualified customers via the 3D-P ftp site Please contact our Customer Support group via email at email@example.com or here.
Endpoint Manager and new firmware webinar:
Mining IQ Interview with Mal Jones Vice President and GM of 3D-P Australia
Mining IQ: Hi, welcome to today’s podcast with Mining IQ, mine name is Jacqueline Bran and I’m the editor for Mining IQ and in today’s podcast I’m delighted to have the option to discuss something that we haven’t covered in any great detail in an audio interview before on Mining IQ, and that’s a discussion around how to bundle up and instantly transmit data where it’s needed regardless of application, format or protocol. This is a subject we hear a lot about at Mining IQ from owners as well as operating mine sites and it’s one of those challenges that is faced across many operating mine sites and people talk to us about problems with adding additional mining applications on an insufficient network, how to balance functionality with cost and reliability and things such as how you ensure that stakeholders are aligned behind options of expectations and all of those are fairly sizeable challenges on their own, let alone as a combination.
So, if you’re facing these challenges you’re definitely not alone but I’m delighted actually to have someone who is an expert in this subject on the line today and that’s a gentleman by the name of Mal Jones who’s the Vice-President and GM for 3D-P Australia and 3D-P and very familiar with these challenges and in fact they’ve helped numerous clients to overcome them, to face them, and to build a strategy around them. So in this podcast today with Mal we’re going to be talking about the steps to solving those problems and Mal’s going to guide us on a path in order to help you to overcome them at your mine site.
So, a little bit about Mal, he’s an exceptional industry leader who’s got a great deal of experience in the industry and he succeeded by building his career on trust, knowledge, as well as his ability to delivery mission-critical solutions. In fact, prior to joining 3D-P, he was the trusted lead consultant to major mining houses such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Xstrata and Newmont, and it was in fact during his consulting assignment back in 2007 that Mal first learned of 3D-P and that’s an interesting story and one that I think I’ll let Mal tell you himself. So, welcome aboard, Mal, it’s a pleasure to have you on the line today. I’d love to invite you to share your experience of discovering 3D-P in your own words.
Mal Jones: Well, thanks very much for the introduction, Jackie. Yes. indeed, back in 2007 it was the consulting assignment that I was doing for Rio Tinto at the time, which was all around looking for a standard appliance to manage integration and applications of their onboard mining systems and as a consultant and a radio engineer, I’d always been involved in looking for solutions and resolving the problems of integration for the customers, but typically, until that time when I found 3D-P, things were done in a very disparate way where multiple systems had to be used to actually achieve that integration layer, so it was at that time travelling the world looking at the problems around all of those sites for RioTinto that I came across 3D-P as a product, and beyond the product itself it was actually at the level of knowledge and understanding of the mining applications that the organisation as a whole had which was that real differentiator between their product, the product knowledge and other vendors that were in the industry which were either solving problems of integration from a radio network perspective or being able to integrate multiple pieces of equipment with an Ethernet switch or something like that, that there was the glue that was sitting in-between that was missing, and that’s what this company represented and, indeed, I was so switched on to their level of expertise and knowledge that I felt I just had to join these guy because it’s very unique to find an area of such specialisation, so it was a real thrill to join them.
Mining IQ: Thanks, Mal, and really it’s wonderful to hear how passionate you are about your job and I think that extends to the discussion we’re going to have today because I know that this is also something you’re very passionate about as part of, you know, the work that you do. So, I think I’ll get straight into my first question, which relates to the conflict between functionality and cost versus functionality and reliability when you’re in that selection process of purchasing a technology solution; how would you balance these opposing outcomes when advising clients, Mal?
Mal Jones: Well, thanks, Jackie, that’s a really good question and in answering it, I would typically be asking the questions back to the customer in terms of, do they understand the cost of being unreliable in the business; have they done the study for the total cost of ownership versus the purchase price? The importance of reliability really becomes more of a priority when we understand what the total cost of lost production is for a machine that has unscheduled maintenance due to failure of equipment; what’s the cost of the resources you would need to maintain and to put someone suitably qualified in the pit and on a machine that’s got a couple of implications which is around safety and availability; what’s the cost of unreliable data, for every time a machine is not reliably connected to the network the integrity of the data itself used by the business to operate more efficiently and report on production accurately, it’s lost. Data reliability is vital to any application, so without it the applications themselves start to become ineffective; the cost of ownership is directly related to that reliability.
Mining IQ: Mal, do you feel when you put that question to potential or existing clients around their understand the cost of being unreliable to their business, do you feel like people are generally prepared for that question or do you feel like that that’s something that often would take people by surprised? Have people genuinely thought about that cost?
Mal Jones: Well, often it’s not thought about fully in terms of the reliability factor. Typically the selection process of a solution is driven by a number of groups, some, often the IT departments themselves are doing the selection, but they look at typical IT type requirements in terms of management and what are the standard tools and those sorts of things but they don’t actually look at the reliability and what that means from a support perspective and what it also means from a production perspective, whereas the mining operator themselves, they are all about reliability and anything that they can do to minimise downtime of a machine and increase its operational efficiency is what they’re striving for, so often there’s a gap between those two groups.
Mining IQ: Which actually leads me nicely into my next question, Mal, and that is, how common is it that mines struggle to roll out additional mining applications simply because their networks are not sufficient to handle them, you know, that might be a scenario, of the fact that you’ve got these opposing outcomes, you know, an IT head versus an operational perspective on the situation, so how common is it that they do struggle to roll out those additional applications and if that is the case, that it’s fairly common, what quick wins can you actually advise?
Mal Jones: Okay. So, this scenario is actually very common; mines often operate separate networks to support separate applications for a number of reasons; number one, because of lack of visibility between the groups within the operation, and two, a lack of confidence that a single network can actually support multiple applications. So the problem in this case is really as much an organisational one as it is a technical one. Quick wins can be achieved in both of these areas from the business perspective, bringing together your practitional edge from each of your groups to share their group initiatives; often synergies are found where groups can leverage one another to achieve an outcome, often these group discussions will identify the need for a common approach at the integration layer. The quick win in this instance for any business is more about changing the business process of treating goals and initiatives as a group rather than in isolation, considering the parallel initiatives.
From a technical perspective, it’s really about finding the tools that can help an organisation migrate from managing disparate networks and applications to a converged and managed environment, this is where 3D-P’s expertise lies. The quick wins are usually gained by addressing the biggest problems first, which is generally the integration and management of the onboard systems of the mobile fleet; 3D-P’s approach has always been focussed on intelligent ways to manage the applications and the way they can access and share a common network. The tools were developed through experience, mining application-centric is the word that I like to use rather than what a typical networking product delivers, which is just a networking connection and nothing more. These products have no application layer management tools that address how the application needs to access the network and talk across that wireless network, so really the quick win is also a strategic win implementing something that can solve a problem today but has the glue or the tools that will enable a scalable future for the ongoing integration over the life of the mine.
Mining IQ: I love that approach, Mal, and I love the terminology you use, mining application-centric, I think that really sums up everything that we’ve been talking about here and everything that you feel so passionate about as part of your role and as the work that you do for the business. So let’s talk about that perspective that 3D-P has to be application-centric and let’s take it one step further and talk about how it’s actually possible for 3D-P to bundle and instantly transmit data where it’s needed regardless of application format or protocol, I think that that is an astounding achievement and I think that a lot of mine sites will be really excited by. So let’s talk about how it’s possible and also what the benefits are of actually doing that.
Mal Jones: Thanks. Yes, there’s multiple facets to that question. First, if we have a look at the problem from a physical connection perspective, which is different interface types; many modern day applications use Ethernet as a standard interface, so the connection of the application is pretty simple and straightforward, however there’s many customers that have a mix of OEM applications from different machines as well as older applications or applications that were never actually intended to integrate into a broadband network. So these applications and devices have a lower level connection which could be serial or cam bus, which is a machine standard, and even digital, which is a single bit entry, so the solution in the first instance is about solving the physical interface layer. Customers are more often than not looking for a device that can manage multiple interface types with one box to reduce the complexity and points of failure on a machine, so moving up from that sort of physical connection layer, at the protocol layer, understanding how the application works, again, this is 3D-P’s area of expertise and through solving these sorts of problems for more than 80 surface mines around the world already, we’ve built the tools to enable miners to integrate their applications and their underlying protocols through a simple web-based interface, so our customers don’t have to reinvent the wheel on what has already been done before.
Now, that tool set that I talk about also addresses another problem that the miners have, which is one of, that the resources that they have on site and available to them, typically the sorts of things that I’m talking about here require, you know, some really heavy IT professionals that know how to configure things at a very low level command line language, whereas the tools that we’ve developed, as I’ve said before, which I like to use the word, application-centric, mining application-centric, the web-based Gooey has the simple user interface that enables the lesser skilled miners to be able to integrate and manage their applications at the click of a mouse without knowing all of that detailed engineering IT knowledge.
So with our experience and understanding of how those applications work, 3D-P apply those intelligent tools through the endpoint manager, which is our front-end of management, that helps the miner manage the use of the wireless network because the wireless domain is a finite resource. Control of the data flow is vital and there are a number of ways we can implement that control; for real-time applications we have the tools that can prioritise traffic by the type of application, rate limit other applications that aren’t so time critical so they don’t hog up the network and for other applications that only need near real-time access, we can store and forward the data to transfer it off a machine when it’s only in a certain location or scheduled transfers for a given time of the day. By applying some of those intelligent rules, it enables our customers to maximise the use of their network often by applying a management strategy like this with a tool like ours, our endpoint manager coupled with our intelligent endpoints, the customers are often able to squeeze or solve their immediate problems with their existing infrastructure, squeezing out of that existing infrastructure what we can, enabling them to make a more strategic approach or view in planning for the upgrade of their future network, as with these tools comes the ability to monitor and report the health of the network from the mobile applications perspective, and there’s really no other technology on the market today that provides that level of control of visibility.
Mining IQ: Something that interested me there that you were talking about is obviously the requirements of that network and the, I guess, the business critical components of it and one of the things that is business critical today or a must at any mine site is seamless connectivity and I’m sure you are more than aware of that, Mal, and from what I understand you manage to actually achieve this seamless connectivity with on-machine applications that aren’t actually designed for modern networks, so I think that I will be speaking or giving a voice to the listeners and asking you, what does it actually mean for your users in real-time and in tangible results, because that’s obviously a fantastic benefit?
Mal Jones: So what it means for the customer is a huge shift in the way that they can now run their business, by enabling those on-machine applications the customer is now able to carry out their business without the need to spend hours each day travelling into the pit to collect data from machines that previously had no means of transferring data across a network; it also, it’s important from a number of perspectives, from a safety perspective, anything a business can do to minimise the requirements for people to be in the pit has to be seen as a win, a very big win. From an efficiency perspective, again, anything that a company can do to minimise loss of time, of resources, less failure of systems through standardised and reliable solutions, it all goes towards improving the bottom line for the business.
Data availability on demand and in real-time improves the cycle time from the time of an event to the time that a customer can make a decision or react, this could mean saving an engine on a machine from a critical failure, identifying a problem in production early and preventing high grade oil going to the waste dump or something of that nature, or identifying areas in an operator’s dig plans before the end of shift and making corrections on the sly, or modifying a drill and blast pattern based on early data received over the year in relation to an unusual rock formation count. These are all very achievable for the customer today by leveraging what is already available on many machines, all they need is the glue at the integration layer to enable it.
Mining IQ: Thanks, Mal, and I guess that leads me very neatly into my final question which is, do you have any words of advice that you’d like to offer to those at mine sites who are struggling to transmit their data where it’s needed or who feel like their network is insufficient to support their requirements? I feel like any words of advice that you might have will be gold dust for a lot of people, so I’d love to hear any tips or tricks that you could share with our listeners.
Mal Jones: Cheers, thanks, Jackie. Well, the best advice I can offer anyone or any client upfront is to look for a partner that has a proven track record of success many times over and has a sound understanding of the applications and the networks and what it takes to integrate them reliably. Look for a partner that has the tools to enable you as the client to focus on your job as a miner and not become dependent or a specialist in IT or dependant on specialist resources to support your technologies, where a higher reliability and more sustainable solution may be achievable to reduce that dependency. Remember, a radio vendor can typically sell you a radio network but really has no expertise in supporting an application, let alone multiple applications, whereas an application vendor will sell you an application based on their value proposition, they’ll tell you what they think the application needs to talk on the network, but can’t make any guarantees on its performance if you combine it with other applications on a network. So the answer lies really in the glue that sits between all of them, in most cases the answer the clients arrive to is 3D-P.
Mining IQ: Thank you for much for your frank answers and your insights, Mal, I thoroughly enjoyed having this chat with you and I’m sure that our listeners will gain great value from the insights and the stories that you’ve shared, so thank you so much for giving up your time today, I really enjoyed our discussion.