Communications, Features, Safety technology, Software

Mission-critical communication

Sepura’s communications combine reliability, robustness and long range to keep mine sites connected.

When it comes to the resources sector, being able to communicate effectively and reliably is as critical for operational success as it is for safety. But mine operations in Australia are vast and often remote, which presents a serious challenge when it comes to communications.

TETRA (terrestrial trunked radio) is a leading standard in communication established in heavy industries like mining owing to its high standards of service, reliability and security. With its latest range of communication products, Sepura has combined TETRA, a tried-and-true means of communication, with the extended coverage of VHF (very high frequency).

Consolidating multiple networks into one mission-critical voice, Sepura’s VHF TETRA solution can reliably carry communications across vast outdoor sites and complex underground networks.

“Because VHF radio waves work over a much larger distance, this offers considerable advantages to a user organisation,” Sepura product manager Phil Retsas told Safe to Work.
“If you’re talking about a site that is 50 square kilometres and you need consistent coverage across that site to ensure safe, efficient operations, then VHF TETRA opens up many new opportunities.”
Using the Sepura SC20 or SC23 TETRA hand portable radios and the SCG22 mobile radio, organisations can implement a complete VHF TETRA solution.

With VHF TETRA, coverage is noticeably better and audio clearer than on legacy radio systems. And with the innovation of global navigation satellite system positioning, team leaders can locate and manage their resources quickly and safely. The TETRA solution also includes emergency response capability.

Sepura country manager – Australia/Oceania Ronan Rafferty explained some of the safety benefits of VHF TETRA.

“You don’t always have eyes on your workers in mine sites,” he said. “Sepura’s products enable you to ensure you are always in contact with the team, whether deep underground or at the very edges of the mine site. This is a massive factor in enabling safer mining operations.
“You don’t have to worry that they might unknowingly be going into a blast-zone or somewhere that is unsafe because there is reliable two-way communication.
“We provide for operations where communication is critical, so maximum reliable coverage is our main focus.”
Extended coverage also means sites require less communication infrastructure, reducing not only set-up and maintenance costs but also the amount of time needed to roll out a site-wide communication solution like VHF TETRA. When it comes to necessary infrastructure, Sepura’s VHF TETRA solution can be rolled out with the MultiTech Base Station from DAMM Cellular Australia.
The VHF TETRA range also grants access to a wide range of communication modes such as SMS and SDS, direct (DMO), trunked (TMO) and gateway operation. It also provides access to feature-rich applications, including geo-fencing, auditing and audio optimising functions.

The range
Sepura’s SC20 has been complemented this year with a streamlined version called the SC23. This new product has a reduced keymat, monochrome display and simplified functionality. It will also be available in VHF bands.

Another key feature of Sepura’s devices is a robust IP68 rating, rendering them impervious to submersion and facilitating easy cleaning under running water. They are ready for immediate operation after they are cleaned, in turn eliminating downtime. So-called ‘water porting’ means water or dust can be expelled from the speakers and microphones with ease.
These benefits extend to Sepura’s accessory range, including its Ultra RSM. This speaker microphone has been upgraded to features an anti-magnetic speaker which repels magnetic dust, prolonging life in iron ore environments.
In other words, neither a dust storm nor a downpour can threaten Sepura communications.

“Our radios are designed to be durable enough to withstand conditions on mining operations,” Rafferty said.
“This includes hazards such as dirt, water, iron ore dust and also heavy treatment such as knocks and bumps – all things that are par for the course in the industry.”
All radios in the VHF TETRA line also feature smarter connectivity options such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, meaning they can be updated without needing to be physically removed from trucks and other machinery. This allows the wheels of operation to keep turning while communications are being updated.

Sepura versatility
Notwithstanding the reliability of TETRA, some operations have high-bandwidth data needs beyond its current capabilities.

Some sites require data services such as video, access to online tools or databases, and the ability to upload or download large data items. These tasks typically need a higher bandwidth than narrowband systems like TETRA can deliver, and require broadband data services, such as LTE, or long-term evolution.

Sepura’s solution to this problem is the hybrid SCU3 TETRA/LTE vehicle device. Designed for use in vehicles and fixed office locations, the hybrid SCU3 combines TETRA for mission-critical voice with high-seed data capability through LTE or Wi-Fi connectivity.

With its hybrid SCU3 and range of TETRA VHF products, Sepura proves why it is a leading voice in the mining industry. The communications expert has a trick up its sleeve for any situation, helping miners stay safe and connected wherever they are.

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