IoT on the Edge – Sand, satellites and the Southern Cross

Mining operation deploys satellite-based technology to protect workers and minimise environmental impacts. A multinational mining corporation runs the longest continually operating sand mine in Australia. As part of its operations, regular measurement of water quality and levels of bores is required to meet government regulations and minimise any negative impact on the environment.

Water monitoring, although necessary, can be problematic as the mine is located in an isolated area out of range of cellular networks. Because of its remoteness, sending workers in to get manual readings is expensive and dangerous. The mine is only accessible by foot and the three mile trek there is treacherous with thick vegetation and venomous spiders and snakes.

Other hazards to workers include exposure to high temperatures, risk of dehydration and no access to help in the event of an emergency.

The mineral and metal extraction company turned to Pacific Data Systems, a provider of remote monitoring solutions in Australia, to deliver a comprehensive, end-to-end solution capable of collecting, processing and transmitting the required field data to a central location without human intervention needed at the mining site. LevelVUE, the solution designed in-house by Pacific Data Systems, incorporates high-accuracy water sensors, solar technology, a comprehensive web application and a SkyWave IDP-690 satellite terminal that delivers connectivity over the IsatData Pro satellite network for timely and reliable data transmission.

Outback – but not out of touch

The Level VUE system is self-sustaining. The builtin solar panel provides power, while a backup battery ensures operation for up to two weeks without sun. The SkyWave IDP satellite terminal is IP67 certified and designed to withstand harsh environments, including extreme temperatures and high humidity. As designed, the installed equipment and corresponding services require minimal onsite maintenance and support.

SkyWave IDP-690 as part of the levelVUE remote monitoring system

Customisable to meet individual customer requirements, the LevelVUE solution monitors specific parameters and thresholds and sends periodic reports to the operations centre. If the system detects any irregularities or sub-optimal conditions, LevelVUE sets off automatic alarms to alert the appropriate parties to initiate corrective measures. The two-way capabilities of the SkyWave IDP satellite terminal and IsatData Pro network allow operations to control field equipment and make changes to the settings remotely.

The operation centre now has access to historical and real-time data at any time, which enables greater operational visibility and provides information required for efficient planning strategies. The automation of readings also enables the mining company to reduce the number of field visits and gain significant payroll savings. Additionally, the company is improving worker safety, meeting occupational and public safety protocols, and minimising insurance costs including those associated with employee liability claims.

Hitting the satellite sweet spot

Satellite-based remote monitoring solutions transform big data into smart, valuable data easily and economically allowing customers to have the right information at the right time regardless of the location of their operations. According to Paul Gapes, General Manager for Pacific Data Systems, “The transmission and collection of data via a satellite communications link can be very cost effective – as little as A$1 per day. We’re looking to expand this type of application to support multiple sensors.” Pacific Data Systems is also currently looking to support other applications with the same technology, such as monitoring levels at tank farms, creeks, rivers and dams.

Since 1984, Pacific Data Systems has been providing reliable, cost effective and timely solutions in the area of environmental monitoring, data acquisition, scientific and industrial  instrumentation, remote computing and system integration.

SkyWave is a subsidiary of ORBCOMM Inc. (Nasdaq: ORBC) a leading global provider of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication solutions and the only commercial satellite network dedicated to M2M. ORBCOMM’s unique combination of global satellite, cellular and dualmode network connectivity, hardware, web reporting applications and software is the M2M industry’s most complete service offering.


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