The success of a mining company in the era of industry 4.0 is to develop its activity in a modern, innovative and technologically advanced way, with the safety of people working in the operation as a top priority, so the implementation of a WiFi network It is essential to reach the goal. In the underground mines, the implementation of a WiFi network allows the implementation of services as advanced as real-time positioning systems of people and vehicles inside the mine, remote operation from the surface of the underground mining machinery, or VoIP communications systems. In addition, thanks to the WiFi network and a production control system based on wireless devices, it is possible to obtain data from the mining operation in real time, thus helping to analyse and make decisions more agile and accurate.
To obtain the best performance of these technological systems that need a wireless connection, it is necessary to provide 100% WiFi coverage in the existing underground space where the mining operation is carried out. This underground space is distributed in the form of galleries or tunnels of about 5 meters of diameter excavated in the earth.
The technological engineering company “INNTELIA Soluciones Tecnológicas” belonging to the “Grupo IPH” (which has extensive experience in international mining work) has already carried out several implementations of WiFi networks in underground mines with total success. In one of these projects the underground mine has more than 70Km of galleries, distributed on multiple levels at a depth of more than 725 meters. Heavy machinery (big loaders and drills), ore transport trucks and off-road vehicles travel through the galleries where mine staff moves throughout the tunnels. And all these elements must be provided with total connectivity underground.
All this represents a complex environment for the implementation of any technology, and even more so for the deployment of a stable and robust WiFi network whose end users require a high availability rate for safety. However, “INNTELIA Soluciones Tecnológicas” has successfully implemented a stable and optimized WiFi network that guarantees compliance with the demanding requirements.
The resulting WiFi network infrastructure featured 205 AP from the manufacturer Extreme Networks, installed throughout all the galleries, serving approximately 500 smartphones, 100 tablets and 50 advanced computers.
To meet the 100% WiFi challenge in all the mine sites, the “INNTELIA Soluciones Tecnológicas” engineering team (INNTELIA engineers certified in the company Ayscom, Gold Partner Reseller of Ekahau) had the tools of Ekahau. With Ekahau Pro, predictive planning was carried out, designing each AP with the type of antenna needed for each location. After the design phase, "AP-on-a-stick" surveys of the most complex areas from the WiFi point of view were carried out, which served to improve and optimize the initial design thanks to the tools of Ekahau Pro. The installation phase was carried out by mine levels, conducting surveys with Ekahau Sidekick as each level that served to confirm the operating parameters established in the design phase was completed. The method used to carry out the survey was by means of a drive test in vehicles, and using the Ekahau Sidekick as a fundamental tool to carry out the measurements in a very agile way.
Ekahau tools were very useful and necessary for the design, installation and commissioning phases. But the mines continue to grow in size due to their own activity, and new areas appear that need to have WiFi coverage. To this end, the maintenance team currently has Ekahau Pro that allows them to perform new installations with guarantees and allows them to perform maintenance tasks for the optimization of the mine's WiFi network.