Symboticware opens office in Tucson, Arizona
New location serves growing customer base in U.S. and Mexico
A Sudbury-based company specializing in telemetry solutions for surface and underground mining equipment has announced the opening of a sales and service office in Tucson, Arizona, to serve its growing customer base in the United States and Mexico. The move comes on the heels of an important new sale to a gold mining company with two surface operations in Nevada that will see the deployment of the company’s Symbots on 60 pieces of mobile equipment.
“In the last few years, our sales in the U.S. have increased so much that we felt the need to have a presence there,” said Marc Richard, vice-president of technology.
Heading up the new office is Justin Johnsen, a U.S. Navy veteran and mechanical engineer with several years of experience working for Freeport-McMoRan, Modular Mining Systems and, most recently, Barrick Gold.
Symboticware’s Sudbury office will remain the centre of excellence for hardware development and continue to serve the Canadian market.
The Tucson office, which opened in January, is expected to emply five employees, including a hardware expert, a data analyst and a reliability engineer this year, said Johnsen.
To meet the needs of mines transitioning to LTE, a high-speed wireless communication technology superior to WiFi, Symboticware has enabled its technology for dual LTE and WiFi deployment.
“The Symbot can seamlessly go from an LTE network to a WiFi network,” said Richard. “It can also stay on an LTE network and act as a WiFi access point for other devices that aren’t enabled with LTE.”
Underground mines can’t get communication everywhere with WiFi because of its output capability and waveform, creating data dark pockets, explained Richard. “Data is accrued, but there are no means to retrieve it easily, so by deploying LTE, which is the current generation of cellphone communication technology, mines can deploy fewer nodes and achieve greater coverage.”
Vale’s Canadian operations, which are deploying Symboticware’s telemetry solution, are currently in the process of rolling out LTE at its operations in Voisey’s Bay, Thompson, Manitoba and Sudbury operations.
The Symbot collects a wide range of data for early identification of engine, transmission and braking system failures.
“If I know that an engine will start to degrade when my boost pressure starts hitting a certain value, I can see that value in real time and schedule a work order,” said Johnsen.
Telemetry allows mechanics to perform condition-based maintenance, limiting unscheduled work which can cost five to 10 times more if parts have to be rushed to site and overtime is necessary.
OEM telemetry systems aren’t always real time, and “a lot can happen in 15 minutes,” said Richard.
“Also, OEMs can only provide data for their own vehicles. They push it off to their own server, which is most often offsite, then beam that data, or a subset off that data back to the mine.
“You may not get some important fluid levels or totalizers, so you miss out on the ability to look at all the data in real time. Also, CAT will only give you CAT data, Sandvik will only give you Sandvik data and Komatsu will only give you Komatsu data, so if you have a mixed fleet, you’re getting three different data sources.
“What Symboticware offers,” said Richard, “is the ability to pull in data from a mixed fleet so you can now compare vehicles from multiple OEMs side by side.”