What Is It?
Mines have employed various location tracking systems over the years, including RFID tags, Bluetooth Low Energy beacons and GPS. Indeed, GPS tracking has been used effectively by surface operations for decades. Advances in new technology – and the obvious difficulties of applying GPS to underground environments – have given rise to several effective options for tracking equipment, personnel and assets in the mining industry. In turn, mines have benefitted from advanced production and safety performance as visibility of operations for miner, equipment operators and managers has improved.
How Does It Work?
The key to an effective tracking solution is the accuracy with which critical assets can be displayed on an interactive, moving map display. To achieve this, RAMJACK’s Tracking Systems make use of a wide range of real-time location tracking technologies, based on need, including:
- GPS – on surface, and underground through signal propagation via Leaky Feeder;
- Active / Passive RFID tags and tag readers;
- Time-of-Flight chipsets with triangulation;
- Point Cloud & IMU sensor fusion with feature recognition;
- Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) beacons and tag readers
Underground mines have made use of the above mentioned various location tracking systems for many years. The majority of legacy solutions are zone-based tracking systems due primarily to practicality reasons or budget constraints, but also due to the good enough nature of zone tracking for underground mines.
However, some mining operations require location tracking to and accuracy level of 1 metre or less to ensure location information can be correctly identified and allocated. There are multiple methods of providing high accuracy tracking underground including using technologies. Here are some solutions we offer that provide heightened accuracy when it is required:
- GNSS signal propagation via leaky feeder
- Wi-Fi tracking via MAC address, sharing and/or signal strength triangulation
- Ultra Wideband (UWB) tags and anchors using TDoA or ToF algorithms
- Bluetooth (BLE) beacons and tag readers
Each of the methodologies comes with its own pros and cons, making the selection of the ‘perfect’ technology complicated, given the various used cases, infrastructure requirements, and budget constraints, each mine operation faces.
Thanks to Ramjack’s numerous specialist technology partnerships, we are in the unique position to be able to offer all tracking technologies under one integrated platform.
Following a detailed scoping session conducted together with your technology team, Ramjack will design, deploy and support a system with the following unique capabilities:
- GPS/GNSS – for areas where infrastructure is essentially permanent and where access is typically provided from surface, enabling +-2 metre accuracy and seamless transition from surface to underground and vice versa using the same GPS chipsets for surface tracking
- UWB TDoA – for circumstances such as asset tracking where tight location accuracy (+/- 40-80 centimetres) and long battery life (6-24 months) are required
- UWB TWR (Two-way ranging) – for circumstances (personnel tracking) where location accuracy is critical and required to stay below 40 centimetres, but battery life is less critical (i.e. recharging is possible at least every 5-10 days)
- BLE (Bluetooth low energy) LTS – for zone tracking where tags can be easily deployed and location accuracy of between 5-20 metres is sufficient
- WiFi triangulation – for zone tracking where access to the wireless mesh solution is guaranteed and accuracy is less critical
Regardless of the tracking technology employed, each RAMJACK Equipment, Personnel and Asset Tracking solution employs similar design concepts in order to meet the tracking accuracy requirements specific to that application. For Collision Avoidance Systems, for example, highly accurate relative location is required, but for Ventilation Management System, accuracy to the nearest zone is often sufficient.
Why Does It Matter?
Location tracking is the cornerstone for value generation from almost all production and safety management solutions in mining. Without sufficiently accurate information on where equipment, personnel and assets are in real-time, other advanced solutions are blind to the information required to manage and optimise the mining process. RAMJACK’s Tracking Systems are among the most advanced in the world making use of the most sophisticated technologies in the industry. Whether your operation needs a simple solution to track the location of assets or an advanced, intelligent solution using real-time location information to control mission critical processes, RAMJACK’s suite of technologies can deliver the ROI.