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Precision networking key to mining efficiency

Paratus Zambia says precision mining, using innovative wireless technology to optimise efficiencies is the future of mining sector according to connectivity specialist.

According to the company, the country’s low-grade ore bodies is increasingly looking for economies of scale and ultra-efficient systems in order to remain profitable, and the latest state-of-the-art technology is an essential part of that.

Paratus believes the country’s largest mines have recognised this, and have a continuous process of upgrading hardware, software and skills to stay ahead.

The latest development in the sector is kinetic mesh networking, using vehicles in the pit to create an instant wireless network that provides continuous connectivity and allows for real time data access to the performance and productivity of the fleet.

Paratus, the world leader in kinetic mesh networks is introducing the system to Zambia at this week’s CAMINEX 2018 trade show in Kitwe, where Paratus is also providing free wi-fi for exhibitors.

“Mines are using kinetic mesh technology to create better situational awareness, reduce losses and damage, and provide a speedy first response when issues do occur,” said Paratus Country Manager Marius Van Vuuren.

“The number of interconnected devices, cameras and sensors is growing fast, and this also increases the need to secure and authenticate the communication traffic moving in, out and around the network.”

“While mines are realising the importance of selecting wireless over fixed networks, traditional Wi-Fi networks and LTE suffer from limitations and connectivity challenges that can create several risks. In the event of loss of communication, even for a few microseconds, data sent from personnel or equipment would be at best delayed, but often completely lost,” he explained.

The technology, which was pioneered for the military, also has applications in Zambia’s agriculture industry, moving the sector towards the concept of Agriculture 3.0, and drawing from the models of the vast farming enterprises of the mid-West of the United States to increase yields further by harnessing technology.

The approach combines sensors on farm equipment with sophisticated satellite tracking and imagery, and detailed weather tracking, enabling precision farming that optimises the efficiency of water and fertiliser use, cutting costs and increasing yields simultaneously.

Eventually this system could advance the concept of precision farming for using driverless tractors, with multiple vehicles controlled remotely by a single skilled operator.

“The technology has been available in the US and Europe for some time; what’s different is that for the first time we now have the cutting edge data connectivity available here to make precision farming a viable option for farmers,” said Van Vuuren.

The mining sector and agriculture and key industries served by Paratus, which is particularly active in the commercial farming areas on Mkushi and Mpongwe, as well as in the mining areas of the Copperbelt and North-Western Province.

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