By Joe Arico, Principal Product Manager
Imagine living your life strapped to a mining machine! Blistering hot sun, choking dust, rain, hail and snow: vibration and shock severe enough to rattle your fillings out! This is the life of a computing module used in the mining environment. It’s arguably the most hostile environment on earth for a piece of electronic equipment and it’s all in a day’s work for our new Core LP and Core HP modules.
Designed from the ground up, HxGN MineDiscover Core LP and HP modules combine extreme ruggedness with unsurpassed processing power to provide the most powerful, reliable machine computing platform in the industry. The product culminates years of work and the new modules join the recently released Display 9 to complete the HxGN MineDiscover product family.
One of the most exciting things about working in the mining industry is the drive for innovation. Every percent of efficiency gained in operational performance matters. The amount of technology that can be fitted to a machine today is vast; fleet management, machine guidance, fatigue monitoring, collision avoidance and reverse guidance, to name a few.
Modern machine computing solutions must not only be rugged and powerful but must scale and integrate like never before. These fundamental requirements were at the heart of our development efforts to ensure customers possess a solution that can be built upon to achieve their technology goals.
From the beginning our objectives were clear: Build a hardware platform that could take our machine solutions into the future. Fundamental to those objectives were:
- Processing power
- Compact design
The starting point was to choose a processor that could not only meet the requirements from a power perspective but that would also be rugged enough to work reliably in the mining environment. After thorough analysis, a quad core, 1.9 GHz Intel processor was chosen. It met our requirements perfectly and allowed significant scope for future application support.
Once that decision was made and all the ports required to support machine interfaces defined, we set about designing a feature-rich package that was as compact as possible. The design included many connectivity options – dual WiFi, cell modem and UHF radio – all integrated into one “box” half the size of our previous UHP product. For Core HP, we even added a high-quality chassis sensor inside, further demonstrating our commitment to compact design.
Throughout the design, we conducted extensive environmental testing to ensure reliability in the real world. Extremes of vibration, shock and temperature were all tested in the lab to the appropriate MIL and IEC engineering standards. We conducted IP tests to meet both IP66 and IP67 standards, ensuring all the smart bits inside remained free of moisture and dust.
In theory, the units were shaping up to be incredibly robust. But as the saying goes, “Theory and practice are the same – except in practice”! Nothing tests the reliability of a product like real-world practical testing. It’s always the acid test. In this case, the theory supported the practical results. More than 20,000 hours of testing were completed on mining machines across multiple continents without a single failure! It’s an outstanding result that reflects the team’s professionalism and commitment to achieve the reliability goals. It’s never a given, regardless of what the theory says!
The Core units can run multiple applications on one module. If necessary, they can be connected simply and elegantly over Ethernet. Each module has two Ethernet ports that allow units to connect with minimal cabling. This immediately doubles the capability of the machine platform in every respect. The solution has been specifically designed for scalability and integration. It can scale in software (running multiple applications on one module) or, if required, it can scale in hardware, as described above. This is a unique feature and eliminates the anxiety of potentially being unable to support ever-increasing machine solution technology demands.
I’m very proud of our HxGN MineDiscover products. They reflect the efforts of the team and they set a new benchmark for hardware in the mining industry!
- Joe Arico discusses HxGN MineDiscover Core.