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Wireless network provides connectivity for Hollinger pit

November 14, 2016
by Walter Franczyk
In: Supplier Showcase

System provides wireless communications network for 100 pieces of equipment

A bird’s-eye view of Goldcorp’s Hollinger pit in Timmins. A Rajant Corporation wireless network provides connectivity linking 100 pieces of mobile equipment.

A bird’s-eye view of Goldcorp’s Hollinger pit in Timmins. A Rajant Corporation wireless network provides connectivity linking 100 pieces of mobile equipment.

A company originally established to improve wireless communications for police, fire and ambulance services is helping Goldcorp Inc. monitor, manage and maintain its Hollinger open pit gold mine in Timmins.

Rajant Corporation developed and supplied the wireless communications network for about 100 pieces of equipment at the Hollinger mine in Timmins.

“It’s been a great success for us from day one,” said Jamal Mohammed, mining and special projects manager for SITECH Mid-Canada, the company that installed the system two years ago. Placed on heavy haul trucks, seven Atlas Copco drills, loaders, excavators, bulldozers and 48 light vehicles such as supervisors’ pickups and maintenance trucks, the equipment monitors production, maintenance and dispatch. A high-precision GPS navigation system positions drills while Rajant technology allows two-way information exchange and extraction of quality reports. The network simultaneously live streams high-definition video from 28 security cameras.

“We’re very happy,” said Mohammed, who credits Rajant for the project’s success. “Rajant was definitely instrumental in making this happen in record time,” he said.

The Goldcorp mine was SITECH Mid-Canada’s first Rajant project. Since then, SITECH has installed Rajant networks on Baffin Island and at the Keeyask hydro-electric dam, 725 kilometres north of Winnipeg

Established after terrorists destroyed New York’s World Trade Center in 2001, Rajant undertook to provide mobile communications more effective than the equipment used by emergency services that responded to that calamity.

The company soon introduced its highly reliable wireless networking technology for voice, video and data communications. Known as Kinetic Meshtechnology, it offers mobility, robust security and greater strength as networks expand. With demonstrated success in military applications, the company expanded into industrial markets such a mining, oil and gas.

Rajant equipment is IP 67 tested. It has the highest protection against dust and can withstand immersion in up to a metre of water. It can operate at temperatures between -30 C and 80 C.

“Military and mining are our two most active vertical markets in terms of the number of deployed radios,” said Dava Baumann, Rajant’s vice-president of global marketing. Thirteen Canadian mining operations, including iron, coal and gold mines, run on Rajant Kinetic Mesh. “We are everywhere but Antarctica,” she said.

A lot of traditional Wi-Fi technologies don’t meet the demands of mine operators because they don’t provide the level of reliability required in the changing dynamics of the rugged mining environment, Baumann explained. Typical Wi-Fi points have to break a connection in order to make a connection, but Rajant’s proprietary routing protocol enables all nodes within a mine environment to always be connected to a neighbour.

“We don’t actually do a hand-off,” she said. “That might not seem like such a big deal, but when you look at these mine operators, they have tens, up to hundreds of applications running on their communication network, which puts a huge burden on the network to provide the bandwidth and reliability for all those types of applications to work. We have a lot of mine operators taking a really close look at the successes we’re having with our mine operations due to that high level of reliability that results in low latency and still being able to support all of the applications that they’re running on their network,” she said.

Mohammed describes Rajant’s ability to maintain communications connectivity as the “secret sauce” in reliably transmitting critical mining data. “One truck has up to 300 messages it needs to send at any given time, so having that mobility and that dynamic mesh moving with the requirements was definitely a criteria for the mine site.”

One particularly challenging facet of the Hollinger operation is an eight-kilometre haul road, flanked by high berms, that meanders from the pit to the crusher. The Rajant system keeps haul trucks connected while travelling the route, said Mohammed. Another example of its efficacy is a bulldozer that was taken off the mine site for repairs at a Toromont CAT shop on the other side of Timmins. “It was eight kilometres from the mesh, reaching over a city where there was high traffic, and they were still able to get connectivity to the ‘dozer,” he said. SITECH is a sister company to Toromont CAT. It offers technical support anywhere Toromont CAT has a branch.

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