The modern minesite employs increasing amounts of smart technology, relying more-and-more heavily on uninterrupted internet connectivity for core operations.
Mining by its very nature tends to involve working in some of the most inhospitable, unforgiving terrain on earth, meaning site teams must have consistent internet access on-site and on-the-go both for safety and operational reasons.
Workers and contractors living in nearby camps also find themselves in communications blackspots, without local mobile infrastructure (3G/4G mobile towers) or fixed-line internet services. Being entirely disconnected from their families and the outside world can have a detrimental impact on staff morale and increase the difficulty of employee attraction and retention.
Australian Private Networks (APN) provides a range of on-site solutions that solve all these remote communications challenges and more. At the forefront of Australian satellite services for nearly two decades, APN has unparalleled experience in solving the unique problems inherent in providing telecommunications services to Australia’s most remote places.
Solutions for Production Sites
Constant advancing technology means that data transmission is king with the advent of condition monitoring systems, IoT interactive sensors, near real-time data analysis and the adoption of semi-autonomous technology.
Remoteness does not necessarily mean disconnection from the outside world anymore, with site operations and workers now able to access the internet no matter how remote they may be.
Unlimited data is now available through APN’s Unleashed™ services, something of a rare commodity in the Australian satellite internet market.
A standard package with a maximum theoretical speed of 30mbps download and 5mbps upload (30×5) is most common. Still, if required, custom solutions with maximum theoretical speeds of 50mbps download and 10mbps upload speeds are also possible.
Custom contention ratios ensure internet access doesn’t not fall victim to excess congestion; with a 20:1 contention rate a common choice.
Clients can tailor costs and speeds to their specific requirements by controlling the number of users assigned to a dedicated data pipe.
Anywhere from a single user to 20 or more can share a data pipe according to their budget limits and data demands.
Remote Site Networks
Network services can include built-in redundancy. If communication with one satellite cannot be maintained for whatever reason, another connection can pick up that service without interruption to end users’ connectivity.
As well as giving mining clients the confidence to know their remote site networks will transmit and receive without impediment, this technology allows for more than one system to be installed on the roof of a single communications building.
Satellite services can operate as a redundancy system to back up existing fibre-optic or microwave connections, ensuring that operations can remain active in the event of a primary system failure.
APN has a Network Operation Centre, service desk and customer service centre, all located within Australia, with a COVID-certified field services team that covers over 160,000km every year, helping customers in all corners of the country.
APN can develop a bespoke hardware solution for sites, including solar-powered and point-to-point wireless options, which allow solutions to operate autonomously and off-grid.
In addition to operational business internet demands, one of the most significant drains on internet services can be employees in their downtime.
The solution can offer streaming services and public internet access for employees and site visitors through a segmented public WiFi network, either for free or on a PAYG basis.
A fully automated online portal for payments and purchasing internet access is also part of APN’s complete on-site solution.
APN’s complete on-site solution also allows for integrating VOIP services into the public WiFi network for emergency telephone access to provide additional personnel safety.
Keeping Workers Connected
APN’s public WiFi solution at the Portia Gold Mine in South Australia helps reduce staff isolation and allows them to keep in touch with their families while working at the remote mine camp.
Employees at the gold mine, 120km northwest of Broken Hill, usually spend weeks away from their families and have little to occupy their downtime.
Their employees recently relied on intermittent Telstra mobile coverage, which was only accessible in certain areas.
The mining camp is now equipped with satellite broadband to run a proven, robust public WiFi service. The communications box and three dishes run off mains power and took just two days for APN’s team to install.
The public WiFi service currently provides the community of 80 Portia employees with internet access, funded by mine operator Consolidated Mining & Civil.
Access to reliable internet coverage connects Portia Mine staff to family and essential services such as government agencies, health professionals and educational institutions.
Portia Mines and its employees immediately benefited from the WiFi service.
Consolidated Mining & Civil executive manager Charisse Jones said providing access to reliable WiFi has proven to be a powerful tool in improving the happiness and wellbeing of its employees.
“Social media, in particular, keeps them connect to their families, friends and the world” she said.
It is common in today’s mining industry for workers to see access to reliable internet as a critical factor in which jobs they accept.
Ms Jones said the improvements on site had led to increased ease on staff recruitment and retention, with the reduced burden “ultimately delivering our business benefits, and for us the long-term return on investment is substantial”.
This solution can also support local Indigenous communities near the mine by extending the public WiFi coverage area with APN’s extended wireless and point-to-point solutions.
APN’s solutions for portable satellite data, video and voice communications are perfect for short-duration projects or longer-term installations.
These portable satellite internet connections enable reliable, unlimited data flows to-and-from remote mining camps anywhere in Australia, with minimal time or effort required to get them set up and online.
Geological surveying, drilling programs, expansion exploration and rehabilitation are prime candidates for this flexible and portable internet solution.
With auto-aligning satellite dishes that acquire a connection within minutes, these solutions can be vehicle or trailer mounted for the ultimate portable scenario.
The company’s COTP (Comms-on-the-Pause) solution uses highly compact, grab-and-go satellite terminals built into 2RU protective cases connected to the satellite dish. These all-in-one communications boxes house the modem, WiFi router, LAN port, cabling and auto-aligning controller, where required.
Portable Internet for Exploration
Exploration teams require compact mobile communications equipment that can be quickly deployed for exploration assignments and quickly disassembled when it’s time to move on.
Employing a portable satellite solution that’s quickly assembled in the field is crucial to the solution’s usability.
Solutions require portability and long-term stability, able to operate from a few days to many weeks at a time, or even longer should it be required.
There is a choice depending on the functionality required with a range of form-factors and mounting options.
The ground-mounted variant has been designed for easy, quick setup.
It is ideal for providing connectivity to a temporary site for a few days, a few weeks or more.
With the non-penetrable ground frame users can set up the service on terrain where digging is impractical or impossible, common on mine sites.
For the ability to move on without the need to disassemble the ground frame, the satellite dish can be mounted to the roof of a communications/crew vehicle or trailer, making moving the service to a new location as simple as driving there.
For a compact solution that can be quickly and securely transported, the satellite dish can alternatively be mounted into a case, allowing for storage and transport without risk of damaging the hardware.
These solutions are ideal as an emergency backup for existing networks or satellite phones to guarantee individuals’ coverage while working in the field.
Future Connected Enhancements
The ability to communicate data in real-time to-and-from remote sites creates the opportunity for a host of new interconnected applications.
With continuous data exchanges to-and-from exploration sites, companies can employ open architecture, cloud-based management systems providing new linkages and deeper integrations across core power and process systems.
Faster communication flows also allow for real-time external analysis of data, drilling data and samples, and continuous remote site monitoring.
With a reliable, secure internet connection, exploration operators can incorporate entirely digitised and cloud-based platforms to monitor and track equipment, staff, and activities in the field.
For instance, on the design and engineering front, hybrid DCS (HDCS) and PLCs can integrate seamlessly with configuration, analytics, and digital optimisation technologies that would have been impossible to implement without an internet connection.
Digitalisation and integration are made possible with a ubiquitous and reliable internet connection.
Once sites are online, operators can improve exploration productivity with Big Data capture, storage, and analysis to save enterprises millions of dollars in investment cost and shorten their time to market by months or even years.
Bespoke Solutions – Solar-Powered, WiFi Enabled Phone Booths
APN can offer bespoke solutions to unique problems. With in-house capabilities to design, build, install and monitor remote communications technologies for families, businesses, communities, towns, and even uninhabited islands.
Contracted by the Australian Federal Government in 2008 to design, build and install 301 solar-powered phone booths in some of the most isolated remote Indigenous communities across Australia, APN ultimately supplied phone booths that provide WiFi connectivity as well as standard phone services to residents.
APN’s custom-made hardware have withstood the harshest of Australian conditions, including Cyclone Rusty in 2013. APN’s equipment and phone services were not impacted, even registering several calls during the cyclone. Remote indigenous communities that endured forced relocation during the wet season can now remain home all year-round while still maintaining internet and phone communications with the outside world.
This custom solution is one of the many unique projects that APN has delivered to help keep rural and remote Australian communities connected.
About Australian Private Networks
Founded in 2002, APN has grown into Australia’s premier satellite internet service provider over the past two decades. Its consumer business, Activ8me, is the leader in internet for regional and remote Australian households, whilst APN is at the forefront of remote communications solutions for Enterprise and Government.
The synergies between its consumer and business offerings enable the company to offer a whole-of-market solution, ultimately benefitting all.
APN is 100% Australian owned with an Australian-based call centre and locally based team, available seven days a week.
To find out more about APN’s satellite solutions and why Australian organisations operating in rural and remote areas trust APN to keep them connected, visit apn.net.au.
Australian Private Networks
P (03) 8566 8312