Mine operators are constantly hit by unique challenges that create a number of network technology barriers which affect their operational efficiency. Aqura Technologies has developed an innovative solution to help companies in this area.
Aqura Technologies’ experts know all too well the limitations mining operations face due to data transmission restrictions and having limited capital to invest in network technology upgrades.
In late 2016, Aqura was approached to identify a way to deliver a 4G LTE underground wireless network for a major gold mine in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.
The operator wanted to grow its capabilities to better leverage underground communications to support real-time video monitoring, improve its access to operational data to support mine performance planning and create a foundation to implement more reliable communications.
Aqura created a proof-of-concept for the operator that met all of these requirements while remaining highly robust.
Backed by the success of the Western Australian project and numerous surface private 4G LTE deployments since, Aqura is looking to support Tier 2 mining companies with the launch of its LTE as a Service (LTEaaS) solution.
Aqura chief operating officer Alan Seery says LTEaaS is a new approach to the delivery of private industrial wireless networks that offers a pay as you need, highly scalable and low touch resourcing option.
“It provides the right approach for organisations that need reliable, high-speed communications, but want the flexibility of low initial capital outlay and the ability to scale rapidly and efficiently,” Seery tells Australian Mining.
“This new approach means you can focus on your operation and leave the delivery of high-performance connectivity to us.”
By eliminating the complexity of trying to orchestrate LTE, a fairly complex technology, Seery says Aqura has taken the experience of Tier 1 companies and given other resource companies the option to realise the same benefits on a monthly package.
“That is the value proposition. It is a turnkey solution where we deliver the connectivity, the control of that network and orchestrate efficient traffic flows so it works efficiently, which we then support,” he says.
With a lot of Tier 2 customers now trying to navigate the next generation of connectivity, Seery says Aqura has created a technology that brings it all together. But first, a key part of guiding them through this process is by educating them.
Aqura strongly supports the Australasian Critical Communications Forum (ACCF) in their efforts to help companies understand the technical benefits from the commercial models that are applied to LTE.
Companies which take part in the training program become better informed on what they can achieve by improving their connectivity and identify how it will drive value for their operations.
“Training like that offered by ACCF is bridging the gap, not only with the technology but also for the business process,” Seery says.
“The training program is working to upgrade awareness of how LTE helps organisations move to next-generation connectivity.
“It’s geared to technologists but there is an underlying focus on the business benefits that can come from the shift by providing a way to bridge the legacy they have, but still move forward with LTE.”
More than four years after the breakthrough project in the Goldfields, Aqura’s goal for the future is to continue assisting companies and assessing the safety and process of their work.
Seery says a key aspect of this ambition is helping them move towards zero entry in underground mining by using its technology.
“The LTE technology we deliver helps operations become more efficient. In an underground mine, which is an area we are really focussing on because they are struggling with technology, conventional Wi-Fi is still in use and is problematic,” he says.
“In an underground mine, it is about proving that the technology is viable for them and helping introduce it to that environment.”
Seery says Aqura wants to help minimise workers from having to enter underground mines by providing technology that enables them to work from the surface.
“LTE is an enabler to deliver that capability. We want to work with the industry to make the leap from the legacy into that style of operation – zero emission, zero harm and zero entry and really optimise operations,” Seery says.
By staying on top of the latest global standard for LTE, Aqura understands what is needed to successfully adapt to new technologies.
With its team on the ground and hearing first-hand the needs and wants of the industry, Seery says Aqura is delivering a roadmap for the future of mining.
“We want to improve working conditions overall and create that confidence in companies to invest in LTE today so they can reap the benefits now and into the future,” he concludes.
This story also appears in the May issue of Australian Mining.