Burning Springs Mine
Increased productivity and decreased downtime through better communication between workers
Matrix installed a surface and underground high-speed data network system to enable communications, data, tracking, video, environmental monitoring and remote Wi-Fi blasting in an underground West Virginia limestone mine.
Burning Springs Mine was using RF methods of communication through a leaky feeder system that were inconsistent. It was often necessary for staff to go to the surface to communicate or physically go find repair personnel and other staff in order to address issues, tying up manpower and slowing operations.
The mine needed a network that solved these problems and also addressed the mine’s evolving future needs. After initial installation, the mine saw the need for adding tracking and other features to the system.
First, Matrix installed an N-Connex high-speed data network with Icom VOIP radios, which allowed clear communications for everyone in the mine. Management was also able to use Wi-Fi calling and tablets underground.
Tracking software was then added to the system for personnel and equipment. Environmental monitoring software from Maestro Digital Mine was also employed to detect mine gas. Additionally, the N-Connex system provided the mine with the ability to do remote Wi-Fi blasting and to ensure that everyone is out of the mine when the blasts occur, an added safety feature.
The N-Connex installation went smoothly. Because the system’s Ethernet and fiber cables are pre-terminated, trained technicians and special equipment were not needed. Burning Springs mine workers managed the install, and the process taught them about the networks and their implementation.
“Once the guys installed the cable [head-end equipment], the hookup of it was easy and awesome.
We plugged it in, tightened it up, and it was good to go.”
Mine management is very pleased with the increase in productivity and decrease in downtime due to better communication between workers. Not only can every employee communicate through the N-Connex system now, but managers can check and order inventory while down in the mine. The time for workers to complete a task and set up new areas of work has drastically decreased.
“The radio system has helped the lead man out tremendously. He’s able to talk to every one of his crew members. If they break down, he’s right on top of it instead of them having to tram for a half hour to get help. They’re able to get them back up and running as much as 45 minutes to an hour quicker than you would have with our leaky feeder radios because now you can get ahold of a mechanic and get him on the site and get things fixed a lot faster.”
With tracking, the mine knows where all its personnel and equipment are at all times. Staff is also glad to have the increased levels of safety that comes with tracking, which is highly useful in pinpointing miners in case of an incident. Additionally, tracking allows the mine to immediately locate key staff, such as an electrician or mechanic, and direct them to the area where they are needed.
“The tracking part of it’s awesome… We can see where our men are in case of a real emergency…
It saves time, and time means everything when it comes to safety.”
With the addition of the network’s camera system, the mine also can monitor strategic areas for security, such as entry and exit points.