Industrial Wireless

High-speed dependable underground communication system

June 2020 Industrial Wireless

Becker Mining South Africa’s Electronics Division specialises in automation and communication systems, which are designed to enhance productivity and improve safety in the mining sector.

The company has designed a dependable Wi-Fi system, which is recognised by the global mining sector for reliable, safe and efficient high-speed communication underground. “We have made a substantial investment in researching and testing underground Wi-Fi systems to overcome the problems associated with conventional Wi-Fi networks in arduous underground conditions,” says Andrew Trentelman, senior general manager, Electronics Division, Becker Mining South Africa. “A critical feature of this advanced system, is its intrinsically safe (IS) design, which enables safe use in harsh and potentially explosive mining conditions. What’s important about Becker’s systems, each of which can be customised to exact requirements, is that each product can be installed as a single stand-alone system, or can be deployed using a phased approach to minimise a massive initial capital outlay.

“The Becker WRAP (Wireless Router Access Point) provides a high-speed backbone for wireless VoIP, seamless roaming of devices, advanced vehicular dispatch systems, process automation, as well as any device which can utilise a wireless, serial or fibre backbone. This system does not limit usage to a single technology, but encompasses migration and integration of many technologies.

“This system incorporates on board tag readers, thus reducing the equipment necessary in a full tagging and tracking solution. The IS WRAP unit’s small form factor, weighing less than 5 kg, ensures ease of installation and maintenance.”

WRAP has a versatile design, which means a combination of communication backbones can be used to optimise the system. For example, fibre can be used for high-data throughput. In working sections of a coal mine, where there is frenetic activity, a wireless mesh topology is recommended by Becker Mining specialists.

As the primary component in creating the Becker Wi-Fi IS backbone the internal layer 3nbsp;router contains the logic to route all network traffic to the correct interface card or to the correct fibre point. The route of network traffic is based on the rules configured into the router itself. Firewall rules can also be configured to control bandwidth usage of protocols, as well as to provide security to the network.

WRAP supports various configuration implementations, ranging from traditional distributed antenna backbones, interconnected via a redundant fibre optic loop, to mixed configurations, using redundant WDS (wireless distribution systems) and redundant fibre optic loops.

The unit incorporates an additional fibre optic port for teeing off the main backbone used for connecting to a switch. The unit also includes an IS RS485 bus to communicate with any industrial serial device, such as multiple Becker UATRs (UHF active tag readers) for tagging and tracking implementations.

An important feature of Becker’s technology is each system is designed to facilitate future upgrades. These advancements are usually applied in the form of a software update.

Systems from Becker Mining South Africa include Smartsense environmental monitoring and leaky feeder systems, as well as Wi-Fi and underground tracking of personnel and vehicles. Fibre optic and digital radio networks, belt rip detection for overland conveyors and scada and Ethernet networks are also available from Becker Mining South Africa. The company also specialises in advanced transportation

and infrastructure technology for the global mining sector.


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