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An enabler for future mining operations
Mining companies are rapidly deploying new tools and applications such as telemetry, wireless sensors and operating remotely to enhance safety, gain productivity and improve financial performance. This trend depends heavily on successfully integrating automation and data exchange, which in turn requires reliable connectivity. In 2018 Epiroc signed a cooperation agreement with the global communications technology provider Ericsson. Both Epiroc and Ericsson have a history of collaborating in partnerships and co-development together and with other industry leaders. In this agreement Epiroc and Ericsson set out a goal of jointly helping mining companies achieve optimal wireless connectivity in their operations through standardized 4G/LTE (Long Term Evolution) and 5G/NR (New Radio) technologies.
Compared with other wireless solutions, 5G and the already widely available 4G technology has better coverage, higher reliability and stronger security, all important features when machines are in the same area and sharing information. To be able to handle the exchange of data between multiple devices simultaneously, a solution like this that can handle massive amounts of data with guaranteed network quality. It also brings benefits for those working underground. They can use the wireless network themselves without any negative impact on safety features or machine performance running on the same network. This improves both efficiency and an employee’s working environment. The capabilities of a 5G network is a step change compared to 4G. 5G data speeds are 10 to 100 times faster than 4G. But more importantly, 5G provides much lower latency – down to almost true real time. This means that connected things can communicate with each other faster than our bodies will notice – revolutionizing industries globally.
A 5G network in mining operations provides:
o higher capacity, speed and reliability
o the ability to control devices with extremely short response times
o the ability to connect many different devices and services simultaneously
Epiroc and 5G
Ericsson has set up a local network with 5G technology in Epiroc's test mine in Kvarntorp, Sweden. It is used for telematics as well as remote operations. The test mine is one of the innovation arenas for Epiroc’s development of automation, information management and interoperability solutions. The new type of network was installed already in 2016 and is continuously upgraded to keep pushing the development of tomorrows mining solution forward.