Managing Head End Network Elements in Remote Mining Applications

In order to ensure safety and efficiency, mine administrators need a means to communicate with both miners underground, and decision makers at company headquarters. There are several factors that complicate communication in mines; one is the remote location of most mining operations, and the other is the nature of the mine itself, where thick rock walls make normal cell communication unfeasible below ground. Although these two factors present a challenge, they also create a problem that is easily solved by the implementation of a 3G/4G modem based cellular broadband solution.

In order to allow communication below ground, most mining operations rely on wireless mesh technology to provide VOIP communication between workers in the mine and with above ground workers in the head end. A mesh system relies on a series of wireless mesh nodes spread through the mining tunnels, controlled by routers, servers and Ethernet switches located above ground in the head end. The wireless mesh nodes provide workers below ground with a reliable means for communication with each other and with the head end.

This type of solution serves communication needs at the mining operation, but in the event of a system crash, an out-of-band communication solution is also needed in order to allow network engineers at the home office to correct any communication problems at the mine without actually traveling to the mine in person. If a router or server in the head end crashes or becomes unresponsive, network administrators at the home office need out-of-band access to console port command functions and power reboot functions at the remote mining facility.

Out-of-band cellular broadband communication via 3G/4G modem provides off-site engineers with a means to manage network elements at the mining site without the need to run a cable or phone line to the mine and without the regular service interruptions experienced with satellite communication. When a cellular broadband communication solution is implemented, administrators at the home office can quickly reboot or reconfigure network elements at the remote mining site via 3G/4G modem in order to restore communication after an outage.

WTI’s TSM series Serial Console Switches and VMR series Outlet Metered PDUs provide an excellent solution for communication with network elements in remote mining applications. Both the TSM series and VMR series are easily adaptable to cellular broadband communication via 3G/4G modem, and together they provide remote access to remote power switching and reboot capabilities and console port command functions. In applications where rack space is tight, WTI’s RSM-8R8 series can provide both power switching and console port access capabilities in one compact, 1U device.

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