An Open Platform for Underground Vehicle Monitoring

CIM MEMO 2010
Peter Cunningham, Erik Bartsch, Allan Akerman, Lorrie Fava, Kirk Petroski,
Abstract Two needs in the mining industry, to enable overall process improvements, are open systems and network connectivity in underground mines. The Pando project, a collaboration between Symboticware, Vale Inco and Xstrata Ni, and supported by CEMI, addresses these issues, and leverages the solution platform to deliver intelligent applications.

An open system is one that uses publicly available standards for its key interfaces. Vendor-neutrality and ease of information flow are two main benefits that result from the use of open systems. By facilitating the interoperability of systems, open systems allow the right information to be available when and where it is needed for decision support.

Network connectivity in underground mines is typically limited, with hotspots in strategically chosen areas that are relatively static. Mobile equipment moving through a mining work cycle experiences intermittent connectivity; in this situation, seamless remote equipment monitoring is impossible.

The Pando project establishes an open technology platform that complies with open standards for industrial automation and systems interoperability. It enables the collection and integration of information generated by mobile equipment—seamlessly while there is a network connection, and acting as a store-and-forward gateway to manage intermittent connectivity. The platform capabilities are leveraged to support embedded intelligent applications.

This open platform, the SymBot™, is a rugged hardware/software device. The SymBot™ platform provides advanced real-time decision support at the device level, and is designed to be bi-directional for remote configuration. Embedded applications developed through the Pando project include engine performance monitoring, a dynamic load weighing system, machine location monitoring and automated pre- and post-shift inspection reports.
Keywords: open technology platform, system interoperability, on-board decision support, store-and-forward, load weighing, location monitoring, open standards, automated reports, Equipment Monitoring
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