April 22, 2019
Ensuring continuous communication
Strata was featured in a Mining Magazine article on Mine Communications.
Excerpt: Strata Worldwide
Strata Worldwide specialises in underground communication systems and offers a number of highly flexible options. For example, StrataConnect Wireless is a completely wireless, battery-powered and intrinsically safe option for two-way, text-based communication. It operates on a node-based mesh network that establishes total coverage through-out the installed area.
"The network can be extended right to the working face," states Berube. "The battery-powered nodes are suspended in the mine, with no line-of-sight required, and automatically connect to one another. StrataConnect Wireless is completely independent of other systems and external power sources, which ensures that it is resilient to voltage spikes and remains fully operational during a power shutdown."
The current device carried by miners for communication as part of StrataConnect Wireless is the Miner Communicator. It includes an LCD screen for messages and toggle arrows to compose and sort through messages, and fits into a small pouch on the belt.
Berube says: "Strata will soon be releasing the MC2 hand-held mobile device, which will be a significant upgrade to the current MinerComm. The unit will include a large display screen, a full, hard-button keyboard and visible LED lights for notification alerts."
StrataConnect DigitalBRIDGE is a point-to-multipoint PoE digital network that delivers both power and high-speed data over a single coaxial cable. It provides data capabilities and speeds comparable to fibre, with the added benefit and ease of working with coax.
"DigitalBRIDGE can be used to expand, replace or repair existing fibre or can be used as a new, standalone system," notes Berube. "Power can be injected into the network at any point and by utilising off-the-shelf tools and standard procedures, on-site personnel can tap into the cable anywhere to install Ethernet devices. Capabilities include Wi-Fi access, cellular LTE and 4G, VoIP, video, telemetry, RFID tracking, tele-remoting and more."
Strata's latest addition to its communications portfolio is DigitalBRIDGE Plus+, which is designed to offer the simplicity and performance of DigitalBRIDGE with the additional functionality of analogue or digital radio. Berube says: "With the use of a leaky feeder coaxial cable, along with the high-quality DigitalBRIDGE bi-directional line amplifiers (BDA), DigitalBRIDGE Plus+ delivers power, high-speed digital data and a full spectrum of VHF [very high frequency] radio frequencies all over a single leaky feeder cable network."
Mines can boost the performance of existing leaky feeder systems with the inclusion of DigitalBRIDGE VHF BDA line amplifiers. These units cover all the frequency bands of existing equipment, making them fully interoperable with any third-party line amplifier already in use.
"They can then upgrade the functionality of their leaky feeder systems to include digital by utilising Digital- BRIDGE line amplifiers with Ethernet," explains Berube. "These provide interfacing with fibre optics networks, and inject digital data into the leaky feeder network. Mines then have the ability to tap off of the leaky feeder with digital Ethernet devices as like standard coaxial DigitalBRIDGE."
All DigitalBRIDGE bi-directional line amplifiers pass digital data and the inclusion of digital does not affect VHF voice communications.
Strata has installed multiple Strata- Connect Wireless systems and StrataConnect DigitalBRIDGE systems in mines in the US states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming and Utah over the last year.
Berube says: "Mines installing StrataConnect Wireless are using it for the standard communications and personnel tracking features, but are also expanding the use to include gas monitoring with our wireless and battery-powered Trolex Sentro units, as well as belt monitoring."
For belt monitoring, the Strata- Connect technology interfaces with the PLCs of the belt controller boxes and enables real-time monitoring and remote programming capabilities of the belt drives and lines.
Mines are installing DigitalBRIDGE to expand their digital network coverage beyond the end of their fibre. Berube comments: "Some mines elected to go with DigitalBRIDGE for the lower cost and ease of install as compared to extending the fibre."
Other mines have elected to use DigitalBRIDGE as opposed to fibre because of the lower cost and ease of use. Berube says: "Some mines do not have the manpower or employed skill-set to install and maintain a fibre network."