Mine safety boosted with IoT-based swarm modules

August 15, 2019 //By Nick Flaherty
Mine safety boosted with IoT-based swarm modules
Berlin based Nanotron Technologies is providing location-aware swarm modules to monitor people and equipment in mines as part of the Internet of Things (IoT) system.

The company, a subsidiary of Sensera, is working with mining technology specialist Meglab which will use nanotron’s location-aware technology as a key component of its Imagine platform, an intelligent, modular mine management system. 

The location-aware IoT sensors provide location, proximity and sensor information. Its swarm modules are available with either Chirp or UWB radio technology, with a common pin-out, making integration easier and quicker. The modules have a compact footprint, and only require an external antenna, battery and housing.

Imagine is a web platform that provides real-time visibility of the underground mine environment. Nanotron’s swarm modules are enhancing Imagine’s functionality by enabling users to efficiently track the location and status of mining equipment and workers, as well as any dangerous proximity to other vehicles or machines.

By monitoring the location of workers, vehicles and machines in real time throughout the mine, Imagine facilitates smart ventilation automation, face reports, lamp assignment, mine evacuation support, call for assistance and collision awareness. The result is a safer, better manageable and more effective work environment.

“We chose nanotron’s location-aware IoT technology because it is light-weight, yet powerful, long range and autonomous. It provides robust radio coverage in harsh mining environments. Nanotron’s solutions have proven to be reliable and efficient and can smoothly scale to the needs of any mining application,” said Louis Valade, president of Meglab.

Dr. Jens Albers, CEO of nanotron, said: “Meglab is an expert in mining solutions, and the fact they have chosen nanotron’s technology for their Imagine tracking platform is a valuable vote of confidence.”

Each miner and piece of equipment being tracked by the nanotron solution is fitted with a small tag, which emits a wireless chirp signal at pre-set intervals. These signals are detected by other tags, which then forward them using a mesh network. When the signals reach the system’s central access points, the position of each tag is determined by measuring the Time of Flight (ToF), i.e. the distance that a signal


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