Air traffic control in an underground environment

By Carl Brackpool, Product Owner

Miners and machinery can resemble commercial aviation but flying in the darkness of an underground environment. The key to that coordination lies in communication and collaboration. And as mines push deeper beneath the surface for deposits, the need for better communication and collaboration increases. Your mine’s ability to digitize processes and react to workflow changes in real time means optimized operations, and safer management of assets and fleet.

Complexities that may be easier to overcome above ground, require domain expertise and often non-scalable customized solutions, below. As data from a growing number of instruments, humans, and mobile assets needs to be outside the mine for analysis, the network infrastructure and software to collect and process these packets become obstacles for true underground mining optimization and safety.

We introduced HxGN MineOperate UG Pro to better manage expensive moving assets in a way that’s safer and highly optimized. UG pro is a tablet-hardware and software platform that manages underground fleet equipment and optimizes production-time utilization in real time when connected to supported underground communications systems. It tracks locations and movement. It monitors task-level activities, modifying miner and machine workflows in real time as the mine develops and advances.


Underground fleet management

UG pro is the critical first step in digitizing manually captured activities. And it’s effective even in mines without sub-surface data networks, advancing mining by digitizing task activities and placing them in the hands of miners working at faces, draw points, ore passes, and other working locations, via Android-enabled industrial tablets.

The solution helped one South American gold mine to significantly improve utilization of equipment and improve tasks around pre-start checklist compliance. In four months, it cut unaccountable task wasted time by 6% and improved tons/hr from 35 t/hr to 39.54 t/hr.

UG Pro is the only modular system in the underground mining market for tracking machines, miners, and their shift-level workflow, ensuring they’re operating together as efficiently as possible. By digitizing, connecting, and optimizing your underground mine, the investment in UG Pro can pay for itself by avoiding one significant, unplanned downtime event.

When fully connected, UG Pro digitally links the surface planning, scheduling and dispatch with all underground assets, both machinery and human, optimizing all activities, at all levels. UG Pro’s analytics bring smart, connected mining, one step closer to the ultimate goal: a self-aware, autonomous underground production. Proper spacing, timing of interactions and pinpoint control of traffic intersections are assured with UG Pro – not in the skies, but in the myriad pathways and possibilities of underground mining.

Carl Brackpool, Product Manager, Operations

Carl is driving new and existing products for underground solutions, as well as next-generation Machine Health systems, combining sensor telemetry with deep-data analytics.  He is the liaison between the Hexagon Applications and Technology Centers in Heerbrugg, Switzerland and Hexagon Mining in Tucson, developing customer-requested use cases that leverage transformative and emerging technology research within the Hexagon ecosystem.


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