MineTracker wins rave reviews
It didn’t take long for Bob Lavergne, product manager at Four Leaf Solutions, to get confirmation that his company’s most ambitious product, MineTracker, was a success.
Rolled out 18 months ago, MineTracker is a web-based software program that tracks all assets in an underground mining operation, from miners and vehicles to pumps, gas and environmental sensors and ventilation systems from one central location. MineTracker integrates radios, voice over IP phones, fans, pumps, WiFi tracking chips and sensors throughout an underground mine using a mine’s leaky feeder or WiFi infrastructure.
The first system was installed for Agnico Eagle in Northern Quebec last year. The mine uses the technology to track all of its mobile equipment and the electronic control module on each piece of equipment.
“One manager called after the install and told us it allows them to better monitor the equipment while they’re in production and should save them from rebuilding two diesel engines every year,” Lavergne said. “It feels good to make a positive difference in the industry. This is why we designed Mine Tracker – to make a difference.”
It has been a productive 18 months for Four Leaf Solutions and MineTracker. Lavergne kept initial estimates of MineTracker demand conservative. The company hoped to reach four or five system installations in the first year. Lavergne said word travelled quickly through the mining industry about MineTracker’s practicality, and knocking on doors helped boost sales past expectations.
“We have had 10 installations of MineTracker across Canada,” Lavergne said. “We’re busy and happy with the amount of work. It is catching on in the industry and we’re proud of that. It was the first flagship product for Four Leaf Solutions. It has been exciting and has changed the dynamics in our building. Everyone is asking when and where is the next installation.”
MineTracker puts an emphasis on increasing safety and productivity. These two crucial elements in any operation, when managed right, add up to big savings for companies. MineTracker is also a communication system, allowing texting in a mine. The latest addition to MineTracker is an electronic tag board, which allows users to see which miners are tagged in by looking at a computer screen instead of physically going to a tag board.
MineTracker works with many different manufacturers of hardware and it can be installed with existing technologies in any mine. The applications are also wide open, meaning the entire system can be customized for any mine and conditions.
“No mine is exactly alike, so being able to customize the system is key,” Lavergne said. “Companies know exactly what their equipment and personnel are doing at all times. They can dispatch in a more efficient way and go back through and look at the historical playback to improve processes. It keeps miners safer by always knowing exactly where they are at all times. A lot of the systems existed for years, but were disconnected. MineTracker brought them all together.”
The biggest installation of MineTracker is at a Cameco property in Saskatchewan. It includes 380 location tags on personnel. It also supports radiation and fire detection, with a customized miner’s report to better determine radiation exposure everywhere in the mine. Besides proving itself in the field, MineTracker has also generated significant buzz for the company at trade shows.
“Everywhere I go, the biggest comment we hear from people is that every mine in the world should have a system like MineTracker,” Lavergne said. “We show people the demo, and it sells itself. It is a scalable system, too. A company can start small and grow the system as it sees fit.”
Lavergne and Four Leaf Solutions will travel to Las Vegas in September for MINExpo 2012 to showcase the technology to a broader audience in the hopes of launching an international campaign.
“We definitely want to expand outside of Canada,” Lavergne said. “We want to take MineTracker to a global level. We’re in the process of finding the right partners. MineTracker is applicable to a lot of other industries as well, but our main focus now is on mining.”
Tagged ambitious product, Bob Lavergne, Cameco, Canada, four leaf solutions, Greater Sudbury, hardware, Las Vegas, Mine Tracker, MineTracker, Northern Ontario, Northern Ontario Business, on mining, Ontario, Person Travel, Sudbury, Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, underground mining operation, ventilation systems, voice over IP, web-based software program, www.northernontariobusiness.com, www.sudburyminingsolutions.com