Connectivity 4.0, Features

Connectivity 4.0 underpins communications

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Vocus is playing a major role in the digital transformation occurring across the Australian resources sector, and by offering Connectivity 4.0 solutions the company’s network technologies are underpinning smart mining.

The development of technologically sophisticated, secure and robust communications networks is central to the safety, health and wellbeing of mine site workers, their families and those supporting mining industry operations in remote communities.

“Our core business, and what we are in the business of doing through our advanced network connectivity solutions, is enabling the secure movement of data for organisations,” Vocus national industry lead – resources and utilities Simon Head told Safe to Work.

“And we do it in a scalable way that gives our clients the very best ability to access the insights that data can provide them in order to make faster, better and safer decisions.”

Just as the fourth industrial revolution, or the transition to Industry 4.0, is having a deep impact on business via the integration of digital services, process, and practices into every aspect of operations, Connectivity 4.0 has the potential to significantly affect the way those services securely connect with each other and the world around them.

Connectivity 4.0 suggests a new era in which advanced communications networks, the very types of technologies being developed by Vocus, provide ubiquitous connectivity across terrestrial and sub-sea fibre, regional 4G and 5G mobile services, satellite coverage and private long-term evolution (LTE) networks.

In essence, Connectivity 4.0 is paving the way towards high-speed, low-latency applications such as autonomous vehicles and widespread sensor networks. This is transforming many dimensions of mine safety at organisational, operational and personal levels.

The networks powering these applications can operate over several advanced technologies, including high-speed fibre optic cables, point-to-point microwave connections, local wireless and low-earth orbiting (LEO) satellite services.

This transformation is also driven by the requirement for universal digital connectivity for core operational needs right now, including building mission-critical services, enhancing the employee experience, and achieving environment, social and governance (ESG) objectives.

“At Vocus we provide the secure network foundations and the ability for organisations such as mining companies with the capability to accelerate their ESG initiatives whether it be decarbonisation programs, zero-harm processes and practices or supply-chain monitoring,” Head said.

In terms of mine safety – and the health and wellbeing of workers, their families and the many people who live in remote mining communities – network technologies are unlocking a new level of pervasive connectivity. This gives mining companies the ability to provide employees with a suite of digital services that are flexible, reliable and increasingly free of disruption.

The investment roadmap that Vocus is undertaking across the Pilbara region of Western Australia is substantial, with a 1000km high-capacity fibre optic spurfrom the Australian Singapore Cable (ASC) to a pre-existing cable located at Port Hedland that is scheduled for completion in March 2023 and will form the Darwin–Jakarta–Singapore Cable (DJSC).

The DJSC will provide a unique, geographically diverse and protected wet route from the Pilbara to Perth, and a direct low-latency route to Singapore and many key cloud computing hyperscalers.

Additionally, the 2000km Project Horizon is under construction and scheduled to be completed by December 2023. The project will complete a ‘western loop’ of assets by connecting Geraldton to Port Hedland, via Meekatharra and Newman, linking natural resources hubs in the Pilbara.

Given the increasing importance of data integration and dependency on digital connectivity, robust connectivity infrastructure is vital to the success of whole-of-business technology transformations such as those required in the mining industry, as significant digitalisation programs are currently underway in the Pilbara and elsewhere.

The benefits of the DJSC include its capacity to support edge computing, LEO systems and private LTE/5G networks, while ensuring secure, reliable high-performance internet connectivity.

Mine workers and their families, along with the communities in which they reside, desire scalable connectivity technologies that make their workplaces and homes safer and more attractive to live in, ensuring they are a part of a digitally transformed future.

“Living in metropolitan areas, we take for granted seamless access to digital services,” Head said.

“The resources companies Vocus provides network services and solutions for often look at connectivity in a holistic way – not simply what do we require to support our mining operations, but how can we drive value back into the communities that we operate alongside.

“At Vocus we feel we have an incredibly important role to play in delivering Connectivity 4.0 to our industry partners, the exploration teams, mine sites and communities that rely on stable, fast and secure networks to complete their roles safely and efficiently, as well as enjoy the access and benefits to an array of digital platforms providing online health, education and entertainment services.”

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