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Case Study
WiFi Mesh For Mining Operations

Strix Wireless WiFi Mesh for Mine/Mining applications

Falkirk Mining Company is a subsidiary of The North American Coal Corp., the nation’s largest lignite coal producer. The IT department at Falkirk deployed Strix’s Access/One® Network Outdoor Wireless Systems (OWS) and Access/One® Network Edge Wireless System 150 (EWS 150) at the Falkirk surface coal mine in North Dakota.

Falkirk Mining’s wireless mesh network currently covers over 25 square miles and continues to grow. They use the network for logistics data communications to constantly moving coal trucks and bulldozing equipment.  Multiple simultaneously active mobile network hotzones roam across the mine at any one time.

Falkirk mines approximately eight million tons of lignite coal annually, using large earthmoving equipment.  Giant mobile dragline cranes expose the coal which is then loaded into oversized 200-ton haul trucks that dump the coal into Falkirk’s crushing facility.  Dozers then re-grade

the land for eventual return to area landowners, farmers, and ranchers.  The company has installed a wireless network system into nearly every type of equipment used

throughout the mining process—including survey trucks, scrapers, bulldozers, blades, coal trucks, excavators, shovels, pickup laptops, and large draglines—to help ensure it meets the precise performance in reclamation and high safety standards that make the company a prime example of the modern coal industry.

“We are always moving mining operations to different geographic areas, while continuing to grow our operations,” said Darin Jacobson, information systems technician at Falkirk Mining Company.  “We are implementing the Strix solution because we needed a wireless mesh network that offered resilient and reliable mobility and high speed, enterprise-class security in an easily-deployed product.  Strix’s modular design and its advanced, innovative architecture made it the right choice for Falkirk, especially since Strix can cover large areas with only a few nodes.”

Falkirk Mining is now deploying the EWS 150 into its ground equipment and phasing out its existing equipment.  The EWS 150s have a high-performance Wi-Fi connection to Strix’s Access/One OWS devices, which are deployed throughout the area the mine covers, thus enabling an end-to-end wireless experience and seamless and resilient roaming.  The Strix OWS network in turn has a backhauled connection to Falkirk Mining’s enterprise LAN. 


At the Falkirk mine, the network enables data transmissions to and from the mining equipment.  Coal trucks are linked to an innovative GPS system which uses 802.11 to relay logistics information to the central office network, which tracks vehicle locations, active and planned mining areas, and time sensitive operations data.  Draglines, for example, constantly report productivity information back to servers, while remote pump locations relay their electronic status to the central monitoring and control program.  The Strix OWS/EWS solution gives the IT department the throughput, reliability, ease of implementation and administration it needs to meet their internal network requirements and provide optimal access to new and innovative resources.

“Just as the Strix EWS and OWS provides timely and critical data in public safety networks, these solutions can always prove to be critical in enterprise applications as well,” said Tom Mooreland, Strix Systems.  “In situations where a delay of seconds can cause a monetary loss, drop in productivity, or even injury, Strix’s low latency, high-performance solution provides the market’s strongest wireless mesh network option.”
Mining, in its broadest sense, the process of obtaining useful minerals from the earth’s crust. The process includes excavations in underground mines and surface excavations in open-pit, or opencut (strip) mines. Mining normally means an operation that involves the physical removal of rock and earth. A number of substances, notably natural gas, petroleum, and some sulfur, are produced by methods (primarily drilling) that are not classified as mining.Mining operations generally progress through four stages: (1) prospecting, or the search for mineral deposits; (2) exploration, or the work involved in assessing the size, shape, location, and economic value of the deposit; (3) development, or the work of preparing access to the deposit so that the minerals can be extracted from it; and (4) exploitation, the work of extracting the minerals.Modern techniques reveal deep-seated as well as near-surface prospects, and they serve as a basis for preliminary estimates of the economic potential of the prospect. The subsequent exploration work includes digging pits, sinking exploration shafts, and core-drilling operations, all of which tend to define the physical limits of the ore body and permit a more reliable estimate of its economic value. ).The method chosen for mining will depend on how maximum yield may be obtained under existing conditions at a minimum cost, with the least danger to the mining personnel. The conditions include the shape, size, continuity, and attitude of the ore body; the mineralogical and physical character of the ore, and the character of the wall rock or overlying material; the relation of the deposit to the surface, to other ore bodies, and to existing shafts on the same property; the skill of available labor; and regional economic conditions.
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