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Mine Solution Tracks Worker Safety, Operations via Tags, Droids and Robots

Australian technology companies Rajant, Extronics, Poynting Antennas and Australian Droid + Robot have teamed up to offer an active RFID and mesh-network solution that enables real-time tracking of individuals, equipment and vehicles with a limited fixed infrastructure.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 29, 2019

After personnel and equipment enter underground mines, a mine manager is challenged with understanding where they are located and any potential safety risks or opportunities for productivity improvements. The nature of mines creates accessibility issues, a ruggedized environment and intrinsically active movement, all of which challenges technologies designed to track mine activity with wired or even wireless connectivity.

Several technology companies are teaming up in Australia to provide an integrated solution for this environment. Wireless network solutions provider Rajant, together with Poynting Antennas, Extronics and Australian Droid + Robot, is providing an active RFID- and mesh-network-based solution for managing activities in hard-rock underground mines. The solution, which the companies are now preparing to offer through resellers, also targets rail, port and industrial operations associated with mining at the surface.

Rajant's Mike Foletti
By combining their technologies, the companies say they can track personnel and equipment via active RFID. The collected information is captured and forwarded over a wireless mesh network, and the firms also provide droids and drones to record and transmit video underground, whether or not personnel are on site. The solution is aimed at boosting safety, as well as optimizing efficiency in places that can be difficult to monitor.

Rajant provides its Kinetic Mesh wireless networks that capture and transmit data regarding conditions and activities in underground tunnels and mines, leveraging antennas from Poynting. Extronics offers its AeroScout Wi-Fi-based active RFID tags, which are worn by personnel and attached to assets. Australian Droid + Robot provides its Explora droid, which employs Rajant's BreadCrumb connectivity and software.

Most underground mines consist of an extensive network of roadways and shafts, with turns, inclines, declines and multiple levels, all of which have varying communications and infrastructure installed. Trying to manage, communicate with and track personnel, vehicles and equipment to determine where they are located at any given time can pose a major challenge, says Mike Foletti, Rajant's sales director for the Asia-Pacific region.

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