Underground Mine Design and Implementation

Vernetzen was engaged to design the network infrastructure for a highly-automated mine in Queensland, leveraging new technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices alongside more traditional PLC-controlled equipment.


Scope


Initial scope was the network design for all non-administrative network infrastructure, that controlled all mining-related equipment and processes such as plant, ventilation and remote vehicle automation. Steps included:

  • Assessing user requirements through consultation with the Customer.

  • Developing a detailed design against the latest Cybersecurity standards.

  • Using targeted RFIs / RFQs / RFPs for product and implementation services.

  • Managing the tender evaluation and awards on behalf of the Customer.

Issues and Resolutions


  • While initially only design services were to be supplied, it quickly became apparent that there was a gap in the market of experienced systems integrators capable of deploying traditional PLC-controlled equipment alongside more modern IoT devices.

  • The workforce available to install and implement these systems were mainly electricians and comms-techs, who had very little experience in the deployment and operations of IP-based networks. As a result, Vernetzen had to provide relevant user training to the workforce so that they could bridge their knowledge gap.

Outcomes


Vernetzen was able to absorb the additional scope seamlessly. The mine successfully commenced production by the end of 2017.

Conclusions


The emerging use of IoT devices holds great promise for more connected infrastructure, greater efficiency and safer working environments. This frontier is in its infancy and there are a plethora of devices and standards in existence. Having a systems integrator consisting of traditional engineers, IT engineers and network engineers is especially critical for the development, deployment and support of OT solutions.

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