Most of us make frequent use of GPS every day, often without even realizing it. Smartphones, automobiles, fitness watches… all of these rely on GPS to function. The widespread adoption of GPS for satellite-based location tracking has had a massive effect on many industries, mining included. Thanks to the latest advancements, the use of GPS in mining is going to become even more important.
So what’s next for GPS in mining?
A Quick Overview of GPS
The Global Positioning System (GPS) is the best-known and most widely used of several Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) that exist in the world today. GPS satellites orbit the earth, distributed evenly in space so that at least four satellites are in direct line of sight at all times. In order for a GPS device to work, it must be able to establish a connection to at least three (but preferably four) satellites with a relatively unobstructed path. The concept of “triangulation” can then be used to pinpoint the location of any GPS device.
GPS and the Mining Industry
Widespread adoption of GPS as a standard has paved the way for improved safety and productivity in surface mines all over the world. Historically, however, sub-surface mines – by their very nature of being underground – have been unable to use GPS for tracking purposes because, when underground, GPS devices are unable to achieve direct line-of-site access to GPS satellites. As a result of this inherent challenge, a variety of technologies have discovered methods for tracking location underground, such as WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). While each of these technologies has its ideal application – and a positive impact on safety and productivity – nothing really compares to the real-time tracking capabilities that can be achieved through GPS connectivity.
What’s Next? The Likely Impact of GPS on Underground Mining Into the Future
Technology innovators have spent decades trying to bring GPS underground. Ramjack is no different and has watched keenly as advances in underground communications and tracking solutions have evolved. Through the unique adaptation of advanced aerospace technologies, a new methodology has been developed that can reliably propagate real GPS signals in real-time for use underground, or in other GPS-deprived environments. This has the potential to transform underground mining – allowing equipment fitted with standard GPS receivers to track satellites exactly as they would on surface. Ramjack is pleased to be on the leading edge of bringing this latest technology to underground mines throughout Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
This technology has the power to radically change the way people, vehicles, and assets are tracked, monitored, and managed underground, and has important positive implications for productivity management, health & safety, and post-incident analysis, etc.
For the mines of the future, underground GPS brings the same navigation, tracking, and guidance standards that have already been mastered above ground. And at Ramjack, we’re proud to help add these technologies to your mining legacy. Learn more about this amazing new underground tracking solution here.