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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).
The next generation of IoT push is moving from a simply “connected” environment to a “smart” environment. In this new environment, mines move beyond simply collecting the data, to an environment that leverages this new wealth of IoT data at the “edge”, enabling real-time decisions by improving the devices ability to self-monitor, self-diagnose, and ultimately self-direct.
In a “connected” IoT environment, huge amounts of data are collected from devices throughout the network, and brought to a central location for analytics and business decisions. Conversely, in a “smart” IoT environment, some, if not most of those analytics are performed at the edge, by edge-computing devices that are able to collect the data from locally connected IoT devices and have the ability to run applications directly that can take advantage of the data from those devices. These edge-computing devices also require uplink capability, and the ability to send some data to the core for additional analytics or warehousing, either in real-time, or depending on the application and network requirements, at preset intervals or locations. Smart IoT systems reduce the massive network requirement of fully connected IoT, reducing both the time and expense required to transmit all the data, all the time, back to the core.
The current networks that support mobility and access to the challenging mining environment are heavily taxed with the real-time requirements of Fleet Management Systems, Safety Systems, and the increasing use of video and audio over the network. Smart IoT allows the next level of performance enhancements to be realized.
3D-P’s solutions include the critical components of a Smart IoT solution.
- 3D-P’s wireless networks are designed for real-time mine operations with design features which specifically target the mining environment and the unique challenges it presents.
- Working hand in hand with the network design, the 3D-P Intelligent Endpoint (IEP) is a highly capable edge-computing device. The IEP is an open computing platform with interfaces for communications to all mobile equipment systems and a broad suite of utility applications to manage data flow over the network, trigger actions based on geo-fences and monitor network performance. Native and third party applications can be hosted on the IEP, performing edge computing functions which utilize the available data prior to sending it over the network, reducing the network load and the amount of expensive hardware on the equipment. Downloading of data can be prioritized by application, only allowed in specific geo-fenced areas or times, or allowed to utilize only a portion of the available bandwidth, helping to reduce and manage the load on the wireless network.
- Beyond the IoT capabilities of the IEP, it provides a built-for-purpose, rugged, networking device for heavy equipment platforms. The IEP provides network connectivity to multiple Ethernet, CAN, or Serial connected devices onboard fleet equipment. Full routing and firewall capabilities allow management of network access, including VLAN, QoS, NAT, etc. Interface capabilities on the IEP include multiple Gbps Ethernet ports, as well as multiple CAN, Serial, and digital IO ports, plus a variety of radio options including dual Wi-Fi, LTE, or a full client meshing Rajant ME4 solution. GPS is included, with HPGPS options available.
Implementing “Smart” IoT will help mining companies utilize data where and when it is needed, improving productivity and safety, while reducing costs. With vendor agnostic wireless network designs, and the powerful IoT edge-computing platform that is the IEP, 3D-P is positioned to help mining operators realize the next generation of the Internet of Things today.