E2E Connectivity for an Underground Mine

Consultative, Advisory, Investigative and Planning provided:

Investigations and studies \ Strategy, procedure, policy development \ Reporting and recommendations


Context

  • Vernetzen was engage through their mining consulting partner – BEDROCKmg to establish the business drivers, scope and requirements of End-to-End Connectivity for a major underground metalliferous coal miner.

  • The key driver of the engagement was to define End-to-End Connectivity not only in terms of the underlying network architecture, but the business drivers, scope and requirements as the foundation of a Digital Transformation program.

Scope

The E2E connectivity engagement consisted of reviewing the company's current IT and OT network infrastructure, network design, network services and network performance, and identifying industry trends particularly in relation to:

  • The flattening of the traditional ISA-95 model layers

  • The adoption of IIOT while maintaining the integrity of industrial security best practices

  • ITOT Architecture principles

  • The core elements of E2E connectivity, and

  • Communication trends

Issues and Resolutions

  • The review highlighted a patchwork of digital transformation initiatives within a disconnected ITOT network.

  • There was no consistent network designs in place and critical OT networks were supported and built on best efforts with no defined support services in place with single points of people failure and little control over connected devices.

  • Whilst there were outsourced IT network managed services in place they were poorly documented, also people reliant and based on a business hours support model.

  • In essence, neither the OT or IT networks were capable of supporting the proposed digital transformation initiatives.

  • There were several examples of single infrastructure points of failure and failed or under-utilised technology investments.

  • Finally there was poor stakeholder and management understanding of the role of networks and their underling infrastructure in supporting digital initiatives.

Outcomes

  • The review interviews enable the capture of the key network business drivers in terms of applications which in turn provided the means to identify the E2E connectivity requirements and scope.

  • The review findings were summarised and tactical and strategic initiatives to address gaps identified using an E2E Connectivity framework.

  • Proposed initiatives have largely been adopted by the site management team.

  • The next steps and agreement to conduct a detailed current state and develop a single ITOT network design.

Conclusions

  • E2E connectivity is about more than just networks. It is about an ITOT Architecture and ‘living’ network designs; it is about understanding the applications and the business needs and providing the skills and support services to meet these needs.

  • In essence, digital transformation programs needs to be built on an E2E Connectivity strategy that encompasses the principle of a single network platform that is aligned to business requirements from the ‘top floor’ to the ‘plant floor’.

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