Swedish Mine Trials 5G Mobile Technology for Safety, Communications
Monday, August 28, 2017 | Comments

Swedish operator Telia is part of a research project in the Kankberg underground mine in Boliden, Sweden. Within the Industrial Mobile Communication in Mining (PIMM) project, the latest technology for mobile communications has been installed to test its endurance in a rugged rock-and-metal environment.

Telia, Boliden, Ericsson, Volvo Construction Equipment (CE), ABB, RISE SICS and LTU Technologies joined forces in the PIMM project to explore what 5G next-generation mobile technology could do for personnel safety and crucial communications and automation in a mine. And in the Kankberg mine, Telia developed communications services.

“We have had the possibility, together with our partners, to truly explore the full opportunities of digitalization in an underground mine,” said Telia Sweden’s Magnus Leonhardt, head of strategy and business development. “Everything from using mobile phones 400 meters down in the mountain and remotely controlling vehicles to connecting various mining equipment that can help make work safer for everyone in the mine.”

Leonhardt said that the willingness among all the technology-based partners in PIMM to collaborate has been unique. Volvo CE developed and tested its remotely controlled wheel loader, in which the operator sits in a ground-level office while using the loader 400 meters below. Ericsson designed the mobile network in the mine, as part of its “5G for Sweden” program. ABB handled the ventilation system via the control function in the wireless connection’s cloud.

“We’re not just looking at efficiency and so on, but actually developing new solutions and adding value,” Leonhardt said.

An example is testing smart rock bolts, which are used to secure the mountain walls after blasting. The smart bolts enabled online measurements and clear warnings. Also, a positioning system was developed to remotely control machines and to locate personnel in the case of an accident. Miners are now also able to use their mobile phones underground, with even better performance than above ground.

As the project heads into phase two, Telia will run the digital ecosystem.

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