What is the ImPact Tracking System?
The ImPact tracking system is an underground Wi-Fi tracking system developed specifically for use in underground mines and tunnelling applications. The system tracks active Tags, carried by personnel or tags attached to vehicles and other equipment. Also, since the data backbone for MST’s tracking system is MST’s ImPact Wi-Fi network, this single communication infrastructure can not only support tracking, but also provide two-way communications via the VoIP MinePhone, streaming video via IP video cameras, etc.
The core components of the ImPact tracking system are:
- RFID Tags that transmit a unique ID, and Readers/Beacons that record those IDs.
- Readers/Beacons then communicate that data to a PC at a Central Office or Control/Communications Room. Readers are actually Wi-Fi Access Points and once in place can also allow other applications to be implemented if required such as VoIP telephony, use of PDA’s underground, basically any Wi-Fi compatible peripheral device.
- MineDash software that keeps a record of all Tag logins and known locations in real time. The software provides users with powerful sorting, filtering, and searching tools to allow for the realisation of data,comprehensive logging, as well as extensive report generating tools.
The ImPact tracking system was developed to meet the stringent requirements needed in the underground industry; it’s rugged, simple to use, highly reliable, and compliant with all underground safety standards.
A reliable underground mine tracking system is an essential part of any mine’s Emergency Plan. ImPact tracking not only increases safety, but it’s use improves efficiencies in the operation of any underground work environment.
Wi-Fi Access Points act as Readers
The ImPact tracking system was developed to meet the stringent requirements of the underground mining industry; rugged, simple to use, highly reliable, and compliant with all underground safety standards.
A reliable underground mine tracking system is an essential part of any mine’s Emergency Plan. ImPact not only enhances safety, its use improves efficiencies in the operation of any underground work environment.
RFID Tags transmit their unique ID (and battery status) to a Reader/Access Point over a range of 100-150 meters. They use a tunable matched loop antenna printed on the circuit board. The Tags transmit on the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, and can receive signals on a special 125kHz frequency.
These RFID Tags are designed to be carried by personnel, or mounted on vehicles and other equipment.
The Figures below show the two main types of RFID Tags – both MSHA approved and Intrinsically Safe for coal mine use. The picture on the left shows how a RFID Tag can be fitted inside the top cover of the ICCL Cap Lamp, and is powered by the cap lamp’s rechargeable battery. Drain on the battery is negligible, even on a 12 hour working shift.
The right picture shows the small, self contained versions of the Tag that may be worn on the belt, or attached to equipment. This version of Tag contains a replacebale, internal battery pack with a lifespan of 9 months to 3 years, depending on the application.
Readers (Wireless Access Points) receive Tag ID’s, transmitted by Wi-Fi signal, and then transmit that data back to the PC at Central Office via the mine’s Ethernet or other digital network in place. The data is typically transmitted by fibre optic cable and radio modems. A combination of links may be integrated to carry both up-stream and down-stream data.
The Reader/Beacon enclosure (top right) is made of 1.6mm stainless steel and protected against water and dust (IP66) and form a key part of our underground communications and tracking systems. These Tag Readers require a 12 – 48V DC supply, and use a range of antenna types for the 802.11 Wi-Fi system depending on specific requirements (e.g. directional antennas can be used for increased transmit/receive distance and for ascertaining directionality of the tag moving though the area). LED indicators, clearly visible from the front panel, display operational status.
WiFi Tracking Readers can, as a minimum, reliably record 10 – 20 tags moving past in a vehicle at 35 km/h, and significantly more moving at lesser speeds or higher tag transmit rates.
Zone Display Units
Zone Display Units (ZDU’s) are large LED displays, mounted in stainless steel enclosures, that allow tagging information to be displayed at specific locations if required (e.g. at important Reader locations, mine entrances/exits, panel or section entries, etc). The use of these displays streamlines personnel and vehicle access control. Typical applications are:
Maintain a Count of Personnel Past (Inbye) a Certain Point
A count can be kept of personnel entering a mining section and an alarm raised if the number exceeds a preset limit (e.g. the limit imposed by the availability of SCSR’s, CABA re-fill Points, or Refuge Bay Capacity).
Maintain a Count of Vehicles (and Vehicle Type) Past a Certain Point
Similarly to the personnel count, an alarm can be raised if a preset number is reached (e.g. when the amount of diesel horsepower exceeds the limit calculated for the ventilation district or zone). See picture of ZDU below.
Monitor Personnel In & Out of Blasting Zones
RFID Tags can streamline the tagging of personnel into safe areas as blast time approaches. For example, ZDU’s can be used by people to confirm they have been correctly logged into, or out of, the blast zone. Refer to pictures above.
A range of display sizes can be used, though our two standard sizes are:
- Large ZDU is 1300mm long x 200mm high x 170mm deep (51″ x 8 ” x 7″)
- Small ZDU is 780mm long x 150mm high x 110mm deep (31″ x 6″ x 4.5″), this is ZDU in the pictures above.
MineDash Display Software
MineDash maintains continually updated lists of tag locations that can be viewed, searched and edited using a user friendly interface. The MineDash database compares tag and beacon data against its records of who, or what, is carrying each tag to build information on its location and movements within the system
The primary display includes a listing of all tags currently logged into the system. Each record clearly displays a tag number, the name of the tag holder, and the time and location they were last in vicinity of a beacon. This listing can be filtered or sorted on any of the following attributes:
- Tag ID
- Staff Number / Vehicle Number / Equipment ID
- First Name / Last Name
- Last Beacon Passed
- Time of Last Read
- Occupation / Responsibilities
The infomation is accessed and dispalyed by a number of software viewer options. From the primary display screen users can also see the total number of tags and their location in the system, as well as a list of the most recent log outs. The Viewer Software has various screen options to look at the tracking data, such as the Map or Plan View shown below.
Sorting and filtering on multiple fields simultaneously allows users to quickly view only the data they need.
From the primary display screen users can also see the total number of tags and their location in the system, as well as a list of the most recent log outs (as shown in the Screen shot below).
Selecting a record from the primary display brings up the individuals, or vehicles, details. Along with staff numbers and contact details, the user can see how long the Tag wearer has been in the system, and which beacons they have passed. This information is all easily edited and maintained.
Further software features and API options are available by using the AeroScout MobileView software suite – see Wi-Fi RFID Tracking Solutions sections in this web site for more details.
MST & AeroScout – Technology Partners
MST and AeroScout have formed an alliance to provide the leading Wi-Fi based active RFID technology into mining applications.
The partnership leverages off both companies technological expertise and application experience to provide optimum solutions for underground and surface mines. With digital communication systems now being installed in mines, the opportunity to use this Wi-Fi 802.11b/g communication infrastructure for tracking is obvious.
So with MST’s proven digital infrastructure (the ImPact Digital Communication System) and experience in implementing tracking systems, partnering with AeroScout and integrating their Wi-Fi based RFID Tags into out system was a logical step. The resultant tracking solution provides key safety and productivity benefits by:
- Productivity - The tracking of a mines equipment and assets underground, such as vehicles and mobile plant., allows better management and utilisation of this equipment.
- Safety - Additionally, the ability to track the location of personnel underground by using personal RFID Tags, in the form of circuitry integrated into the miner’s cap lamp battery or as self contained device, provides a strong safety tool particularly in any emergency situation.