Industrial Wireless

Smartcom VHF leaker feeder system for underground communications

Technews Industry Guide - Wireless 2015 Industrial Wireless

Becker Mining has introduced its latest Smartcom VHF leaky feeder system, which ensures reliable underground communications. This system has advanced features for flexibility and low maintenance requirements.

“The system equips mining operations with multiple simultaneous voice and data radio channels, with low intermodulation noise levels, to ensure clear and reliable communications underground,” says Andrew Trentelman, senior general manager: electronics, Becker Mining South Africa. “This leaky feeder system, with a modular design, features the option of local and remote diagnostic amplifiers with manual and automatic gain control, to ensure every installation and subsequent maintenance procedures are safe and effortless.

“Mines are usually remote to major cities and established infrastructure, which makes access to communication specialists and services difficult for the sector. The Smartcom VHF leaky feeder system, which has been installed in mines throughout the world, is known for dependable performance, requiring little maintenance.”

The system is designed with local diagnostics via three on board LED indicators as standard. This facilitates fault finding and troubleshooting through quick identification of faulty components, and communicates relevant information on the display unit, thus reducing downtime and repair costs. The amplifier is suitable for installations that cannot afford the added expense of Ethernet, and where remote diagnostics are unnecessary.

Becker’s latest Smartcom VHF leaky feeder system, with local and remote diagnostics, also has Ethernet capabilities. This unit has the functionality to send information to an amplifier installed on the surface, enabling a control room operator to retrieve relevant information. This is particularly useful in the event of a system fault, as the operator can easily identify precisely where the problem is. The system also provides relevant information on what equipment is needed to repair the fault.

Robust Smartcom VHF leaky feeder systems can be upgraded at any time, within budget restraints, to suit the changing needs of every mine. With the simple installation of an upgrade kit, advancement of the system is completed on site. This kit allows remote monitoring of the line amplifier and access to data that includes DC line voltage, downstream RF power, the automatic gain control / manual gain control modes and attenuator settings. These metrics are represented on the remote diagnostics server user interface installed on the surface. If Ethernet communications are required, the remote diagnostic amplifier and head end module should be used.

The flexibility of this system supports both analogue and digital radio repeaters, which means users have a choice of radio infrastructure.

Smartcom also supports telemetry and can be used for effectively controlling underground equipment like ventilation fans, pumps and stench gas fires. Important information is communicated efficiently back to mine control systems for optimum productivity and enhance safety.

Narrow band radio modems can also be used to provide a 9600 bps fixed/mobile data connection over the entire coverage area of the leaky feeder network and is especially useful with the Becker tagging and tracking system, to tag and track resource movement within the mine. Becker also manufactures a complete range of power supplies, designed especially for the harsh conditions of underground mines.

The Becker Smartcom amplifiers are bi-directional and amplify signals in both the ‘up’ and ‘down’ link directions, with helical filters to separate the upstream and downstream link frequencies. An important advantage is the high power amplifier option for coverage in remote work areas where it is impossible to access infrastructure.

Applications for Becker leaky feeder systems include mine-wide voice communication networks, medium speed mobile data, local and portable video monitoring, as well as distributed control and monitoring networks. This system is also designed for wide area antenna coverage.

For more information contact Andrew Trentelman, Becker Mining South Africa, +27 (0)11 617 6300,,


Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Siemens makes industrial 5G router available
July 2021, Siemens Digital Industries , Industrial Wireless
Router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry.

NearFi couplers for contactless power and data transmission
July 2021, Phoenix Contact , Industrial Wireless
By launching NearFi, Phoenix Contact has introduced a new, innovative technology for contactless power and data transmission in the near-field range.

Pallet power in the chemical industry
June 2021, Turck Banner , Industrial Wireless
Contactless detection of incoming and outgoing goods provides those involved in logistics with considerably greater transparency of stock levels.

Wearable device keeps workers safe during the pandemic
June 2021, RS Components SA , Industrial Wireless
Maintaining social distancing is key to limiting the spread of coronavirus, but it can be a real challenge in busy workplaces such as manufacturing facilities, warehouses and construction sites.

Becker Mining to deliver hoists to Rustenburg mine
June 2021, Becker Mining South Africa , News
Becker Mining South Africa has secured an order for 26 Kito electric and manual chain hoists and accessories, for a processing plant at a mine in the North West Province.

Flameproof switchgear for system protection
April 2021, Becker Mining South Africa , Electrical Power & Protection
Becker Mining South Africa’s Energy Distribution division manufactures customised switchgear, designed for the efficient distribution of electrical power.

Remote monitoring of temperature in cryopreservation facilities
March 2021, Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists , Industrial Wireless
When the Medical Research Council needed to upgrade sixteen of its facilities to monitor temperature and humidity levels in its -80°C sample storage area, it engaged Omniflex to find a solution.

RFID system tracks meat production in Chinese slaughterhouse
February 2021, Turck Banner , Industrial Wireless
To implement the tracking of the pork across all process levels, every pig is provided with an electronic earring containing the relevant data.

Three key considerations to build reliable wireless communications for AGVs
February 2021, RJ Connect , Industrial Wireless
Moxa has helped machine OEMs and system integrators worldwide to augment their AGVs and AS/RS for optimal reliability and efficiency.

Monitoring critical assets for tailings and pipeline feed system
November 2020 , Industrial Wireless
Monitoring of tailings dams can be performed by various methods depending on actual mining operation procedures.