Tracking in mines: The use of RTLS in underground mining or open pit mining

Opencast or underground mines are huge areas for the extraction of iron, ore, copper or other minerals. But especially in this environment, where workers often work alone with heavy equipment, processes are frequently non-transparent and whereabouts of (single) workers are unknown. On the one hand, this leads to productivity losses, but also and above all to a safety risk for the employees. To counteract these factors, Favendo offers a tracking solution that provides reliable location data even under the difficult conditions of open-pit or underground mines.

Assets such as vehicles, tools and equipment, as well as people, can be tagged and located at any time within pre-defined zones. Indoors, the tracking system is based on Bluetooth (BLE) or WiFi; outdoors or underground, GPS tracking is used, transmitted via LoRaWAN. This enables seamless real-time location of people and objects both in open spaces, underground or inside buildings.

Download our Implementation Guide for Asset Tracking in Mining

    Who benefits from tracking in mines

    Mining personnel

    • increased safety when working alone
    • possibility to make an emergency call fast
    • reliable location possibility, e.g. in case of burial
    • easier communication

    Operations and Safety Managers, Supervisors

    • faster reaction time in case of danger
    • less stress, due to reduced security risk
    • increased transparency

    Procurement & Business Development

    • optimization of processes
    • reduced losses
    • improved working conditions for employees
    • increased productivity & better utilization

    Digitalization in mines for optimizing processes

    Whether it is the mining of near-surface raw materials such as stone, sand or gold in an open pit mine or the extraction of minerals, metals or ores underground, documenting the entire production process and communication is a challenge for most mining companies. Often, everything is documented using paper notes or forms. This is not only cumbersome and time-consuming, but above all prone to errors. In addition, this analog recording method in the mines is very non-transparent and a subsequent analysis of processes is almost impossible.

    Asset tracking provides capabilities for digital analysis

    The advantage of an RTLS solution in a mine is not only to have a real-time overview of the entire inventory, the machines, as well as single workers, but also and above all to be able to analyze processes. What is the current utilization of the machines? Which process steps have already been processed and where is a possible bottleneck? Based on this data, processes can be improved in a meaningful way. On the one hand, this increases productivity and, at the same time, ensures greater job satisfaction by optimizing employee utilization without stressful waiting and search times.

    People safety in Mines | Favendo Tracking solutions

    Tracking means safety for employees in open pit mines and underground mines

    The safety aspect is certainly one of the most relevant when it comes to asset tracking in mines. In mining, employees often work alone on large machines or with heavy equipment. Particularly in underground mines, there is no way to see the entire terrain, which makes the use of a reliable tracking system for mines and quarries all the more important.

    In case of an accident or even a cave-in in underground mines, locating single workers is life-saving. To locate them, workers are equipped with tags that they carry and that indicate their location in predefined zones (geofences). This allows for the quickest possible rescue and recovery. Zone alerts can also be used to issue warning signals on the devices of the appropriate responsible parties, so that extra attention can be paid to a person in a hazardous area.

    The reliability of the system is particularly important when locating people. Especially in mining, the environment is usually already highly metallic and electromagnetic by itself. This can lead to signal interference. Therefore, optimal coverage of all areas with the sensor infrastructure is enormously important and should only be undertaken by experts in order to function reliably. Favendo takes over the planning of the infrastructure based on building/site plans to guarantee sufficient signal coverage.

    Asset Tracking in Minera Antucoya | Favendo

    Tracking indoors, outdoors and underground

    Mines usually do not consist of just one building or a single mining zone above or below ground, but are often a combination of both. Therefore, the tracking solution must work both indoors and outdoors but also underground.

    To achieve this, Favendo has developed a seamless hybrid solution with Abeeway/Actility’s multi-mode trackers: Indoors, the tags send their signals via Bluetooth (BLE), and in the outdoor area of the mines, they work with GPS signals relayed via LoRaWAN. The trackers have a special dust & fire resistant housing and can withstand the extreme stresses of a mining environment. ATEX certified devices are also available for hazardous areas. Another advantage of this robust tracking solution for mines is that it can be installed completely on-premises and thus does not require an internet connection.

    Favendo’s solution is characterized above all by its resistance to environmental conditions: Even at altitudes of more than 3500 m above sea level, the tracking system provides reliable location data. This is a major advantage, especially in the field of asset tracking for mines, as mining areas at high altitudes are not uncommon.

    Frontend Favendo Commander RTLS platform
    Geofences at Minera Antucoya in Favendo’s Commander Location Engine

    Integration of the tracking system into an existing CRM /ERP system

    A standard JSON/REST push/pull API integrated into the Commander Location Engine allows companies to transfer location data directly into CRM or ERP systems. We have already successfully implemented this with our partner IGO: The IGAT platform allows to measure productivity and utilization of the mine in real time and display it clearly in a dashboard. In combination with Favendo’s tracking solution, the position of tagged machines, vehicles or workers can be retrieved at any time.


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