Innovations in Mobile ConnectivityBy Joel Schroeder, Director of Land Mobile Products, Intelsat — 

The mining industry is becoming smarter by the day, relying more heavily on digital and connected solutions to optimize operations, explore new sites, and achieve sustainability targets. The emergence of remote-controlled and autonomous equipment is helping to improve safety and increase productivity. These trends will only accelerate and intensify as future mining operations become more connected and automated.

However, mining sites are often located in remote places around the world, creating unique challenges for connectivity. These sites often lack access to traditional terrestrial connectivity. Even when cellular is available, its reach and quality are often compromised. Finding reliable connectivity is a crucial necessity.

High throughput satellite network solutions (HTS), like Intelsat FlexMove, effectively fill the communications gaps and deliver the connectivity modern and digitized mining companies need to power complex and integrated applications for today’s connected mining operations.

Powering Connectivity During Remote Exploration

As miners head into dangerous and hostile locations to explore and identify new sites, they need to quickly establish temporary offices with network connectivity that can support site operations, share high-quality pictures, videos, and site samples, and receive feedback in near real-time.

Mining companies must also ensure the welfare and safety of their remote explorers by offering reliable connectivity to enable business continuity, offload critical data, and satisfy increased employee wellness demands for broadband access, including telehealth and video streaming. All these applications require significant bandwidth to be most effective. HTS communications-on-the-pause (COTP) solutions are small enough to be carried in a backpack and simple to set up and use. They can establish high-quality, highly reliable communication hotspots no matter how remote a mining team’s exploration endeavors take them.

Leveraging Data for Operations and Sustainability

Heavy equipment fleet management platforms can yield a trove of valuable data. However, this data is only valuable with the ability to transmit it. Harbor Research found that only 10 to 15 percent of collected data is deployed in mining operations, leaving most of it unused and billions of dollars of untapped value on the table. Satellite connectivity enables mining companies to continuously derive value from critical data collected by connected solutions by ensuring heavy equipment stays connected anywhere. For example, by collecting and transmitting data related to vehicle usage, engine idling, and refueling, eco-conscious mining companies can cut carbon emissions and conduct operations more sustainably. In this way, HTS solutions can play a vital role in helping mining companies achieve their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.   

Optimizing, Automating, and Remotely Managing Heavy Equipment Fleets

According to Harbor Research, the market for mining equipment will grow from nearly $34 billion in 2022 to over $100 billion by 2032. As mining operators increasingly rely on fleets of connected heavy equipment, Intelsat FlexMove can combine with other technologies, including cellular and non-geostationary satellite networks, to provide complementary connectivity that will help optimize efficiency, improve safety, maximize performance, and protect investments.

By adding satellite connectivity to the complement of networks, mining operators can monitor heavy equipment, measure risk, and receive real-time alerts should any mechanical or performance issue arise, reducing the risk of equipment breakdowns and addressing issues before they become catastrophic. 

Additionally, as remote equipment and semi-autonomous technologies emerge to help mining companies address worker shortages, increase safety records, and significantly improve output, a multi-orbit solution will enable long-distance remote operators to control equipment located in areas beyond the reach of cellular connectivity.

Finally, satellite-powered Wi-Fi in the cab will allow mining companies to connect field operators and headquarters in real-time. Voice connectivity, video streaming, and high data transfer enable the relaying of information that can inform operational changes while at the same time enhancing safe driving practices across fleets.

With cost-effective, easy-to-install terminals, FlexMove establishes connectivity anywhere mining activities are happening in a matter of seconds. No matter the requirement, FlexMove delivers unparalleled connectivity to accommodate the volatile world of mining, powering the mines of the future and creating a safer, more sustainable world.

To learn more, listen to Global Mining Review’s podcast, where Intelsat’s Joel Schroeder, Director of Land Mobile Products, talks about the high-speed satellite connectivity solutions Intelsat provides for mining equipment and crew on-the-go.

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