'Communications systems for underground mines have changed a lot in the last decade but still have a vital role in safety and operations underground,' finds Ailbhe Goodbody, Mining Magazine
Maestro Digital Mine works with mining companies globally to address the challenges associated with traditional communication backbone solutions.
Its Plexus PowerNet™, which is one of the first powered coaxial gigabit networks, delivers a high-speed, low-latency digital communication network that provides PoE+ [powerover- Ethernet] power to WAPs [wireless access points], cameras and any other IP-based device. Gribbons says: “The system eliminates the need for costly outside fibre optic contractors and can be installed and maintained by any internal tradesperson or development miner.”
It provides a robust, simple-to-deploy, one-cable solution for network connectivity. Gribbons states: “Plexus makes installation simple, using a single coaxial cable that carries both power and network connectivity. This eliminates the need to run both fibre and power to new network devices.” It is designed to simplify the installation, extension and maintenance of the network, while enabling high-bandwidth, low-latency, low-jitter data and endpoint power using coaxial copper cable. Gribbons says: “The termination process now becomes easy and cost-effective, utilising basic tools. A termination can be completed by any tradesperson in less than two minutes.”
In addition, the nodes provide an easy way to terminate, troubleshoot and deploy standard based IP devices from the Plexus PowerNet™ embedded network switch.
The Plexus PowerNet™ is currently installed and being expanded at 20 mines in Canada, the US, Spain and Finland. “Our current clients have compared other gigabit network solutions and concluded that CAPEX can be decreased in the area of 40-60% without any compromise of network speed or capability,” explains Gribbons. “The Plexus PowerNet™ can be used in mines with or without a fibre optic network. The Plexus has been designed for the quickest, simplest and least expensive ‘last mile’ of communication.”
Maestro continues to develop Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and LTE devices and networks. Gribbons says: “LTE is being attempted at a few mines in Canada but so far, the current technology is not available for accurate tracking. Likely in the next five years, this will be addressed but for today, 802.11 Wi-Fi is the only network that can handle all of today’s use cases.”