Providing high-speed communications for remote operations

When Pivotel was tasked with supplying a portable satellite internet solution to a Pilbara rail maintenance team on a tight deadline, it rose to the occasion.

Whether it’s for day-to-day operations, maintenance, logistics, workplace health and safety, or to enhance staff welfare, communication specialist Pivotel keeps the fast-paced Australian mining industry connected.

With trains moving thousands of tonnes of iron ore from a remote Pilbara location in Western Australia to the Port of Karratha, Pivotel provided a swift solution for a major miner, supplying a portable satellite communication system to assist its rail maintenance teams.

The mining company had an urgent requirement for an internet service to assist maintenance work along a 50-kilometre stretch of the railway.

Pivotel deployed its business nbn satellite service within seven days, ensuring limited downtime on the tracks.

The company’s Western Australian business development manager Nick Hart says the service has been critical in enabling these maintenance workers to fulfil their duties.

“The workers on site have to take a lot of responsibility for what they’re going to do, when they’re going to do it and how they’re going to do it. Reliable communication is important for them to relay the scope and nature of their undertakings, while improving productivity, operational efficiency and safety,” Hart says.

Users can easily relocate and set up Pivotel’s service themselves.

The mobility of their work also means they require connection across a vast area.

“Typically, they will not just repair one location on the railway line, there will be a number of areas they need to fix,” Hart continues.

“Workers will travel from site to site fixing issues each time. And they don’t necessarily know how long it will take them at each location, so there’s a lot of dynamic planning involved.”

Not only does Pivotel’s service enable the workers to complete their maintenance work safely and efficiently, but the terminal is easy to relocate and set up, without the assistance of a Pivotel technician.

“The challenge they have is that they are mobile, they move around a lot. So, uniquely with this technology and what we’re doing with the nbn service, means they don’t need a skilled engineer to move the equipment.

“We can teach any worker to install the very-small-aperture terminal (VSAT) and how to move it from site to site, it’s modern technology that allows us to do this.”

Pivotel uses small antennas located on either a trailer or a skid, both of which are equally mobile and effective options, providing flexibility for the user.

Once the satellite communication system is set up, with the functionality of the service, the customer should be on their way.

“As long as the installation is done correctly, which we manage, then the ongoing support should be minimal,” Hart says.

But in the situation that further assistance is required, Pivotel has the resources to support that.

“The differentiator with Pivotel is that we have 170 dealers all over the country,” Hart says. “These dealers assist with the installation, and they also provide ongoing technical support.

“If something has to be replaced on site and it can’t be done by the local team, we can send somebody from Karratha, Port Hedland, Mount Isa or wherever they are.”

The mining company has saved a considerable amount of money using Pivotel’s business nbn satellite service instead of other service providers, while the infrastructure has shown no discomfort in the heat and red dust of the remote Western Australian environment.

Pivotel deployed its business nbn
satellite service within seven days.

Pivotel’s satellite services support mining companies and their immediate responsibilities, whether that’s urgent maintenance or attending to safety concerns, but there are other indirect matters that are equally as important.

“These people are away from their families and friends. They’re in the middle of nowhere for weeks at a time. Yes, they’re well paid but they still expect to be able to contact their family,” Hart says.

“For example, we’ve got a drilling company that says to us, ‘We can’t get staff if we don’t have good VSAT communications, the guys just walk off.’ The money is not an incentive anymore.”

Pivotel’s business nbn satellite service allows organisations to compete with their metro counterparts by providing a wide range of speed tiers and allowances, as well as data pooling options. This makes the service the ideal solution to support staff working and living at remote sites.

With Pivotel focussed on providing reliable and secure communication services for Australian businesses operating in remote parts of the country, organisations no longer have to compromise on safety, productivity and efficiency. 

This feature appeared in the November issue of Australian Mining.

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