Let’s look at a real-world example of our tools in action. The scenario is a miner who has brought an LTE network into their mining operation and has struggled with many issues.
They frequently find themselves moving key mining activities into areas that don’t have the necessary network performance to support their applications. The miner’s experience is of a Fleet Management System that operates poorly as they can’t get data to or from their mining assets consistently, and production suffers as an outcome.
The miner has little understanding of why network performance is poor, and the result is having to go through a pretty arduous process of moving a cell-on-wheels (COW) to try and get some improvement but at the expense of losing performance somewhere else. As LTE is a complicated technology, the miner has no real insight into what the cause is or what the best strategy for fixing the problems is.
After suffering enough frustration, the miner chooses to bring 3D-P’s hybrid Ospreys to site and starts to replace the existing LTE modems with the new Intelligent Endpoints.
With a number of critical fleet now operating with hybrid Osprey Endpoints, initial benefits can be experienced. The Ospreys can connect to the LTE network and use the embedded Rajant Instamesh to form a layer 2 tunnel over LTE without relying on the existing tunnelling protocol (VXLAN as an example) set up by the LTE vendor. The Ospreys are designed to outperform other industrial LTE modems because they are optimized to perform in a mining environment, not generic industrial scenarios that common-off-the-shelf modems are made for. Those hybrid-capable fleet can not only connect to the LTE network, but they can mesh between each other, forming vehicle to vehicle communication links via Rajant’s Instamesh.
The Instamesh protocol is instantly able to adapt to changing mobile client and network conditions and provide an enhancement to LTE performance.
But what about those tools?
Most importantly the miner now has access to the Osprey’s toolkit, including our Network Performance Analysis Tool (NPAT). This allows the miner to test, prod and poke the LTE network to see how it’s performing against the requirements of the applications running over it. They are now able to collect time-stamped, geolocated LTE-specific data from the vehicle/Endpoint/client radio perspective.
As they say, information is power, and the miner has information by the haul truckload! From the easy-to-obtain NPAT visualizations and contextual data, they can get a real insight into the LTE network’s performance and make informed decisions about network changes.
How does it all fall in to place?
As an example, before or during a move of a digger and auxiliary fleet, the miner can run tests on fleet with Osprey’s already installed. The question being asked is ‘Will the network support the mining application activity in a new location’? There is no need to leave the office and go out into the mine. Several Ospreys can be configured to test the network for the required performance.
As those fleet drive around the mine, they will capture test data for a period of hours or days, and that test data can be remotely and wirelessly uploaded from the fleet Endpoint without any disruption to operations or leaving the office. Within an hour that data can be converted into visualizations that demonstrate instantly whether the new mining location is supported from a network perspective. If not, we can delve into the contextual data to see if it’s an issue with coverage, capacity, low RSRP or some other metric being captured.
What’s hugely beneficial is that this can be done proactively before the change in mining conditions.
All of this is achieved simply by replacing outmoded and outgunned LTE modems with a truly mine-centric intelligent device that offers so much more than just radio connectivity and switch ports.
But there is more…
The miner doesn’t have to upgrade their entire fleet with new Osprey’s to get the benefits discussed above. The addition of Ospreys as the existing LTE modems fail (and they will) or when new fleet are brought to site, offers a scalable and low-cost enhancement to the LTE network. The hybrid Osprey is truly a unique product and a game-changer in mining wireless technology.