Smart sensors for underground mining

Reliable communication in harsh environmental conditions

Underground mines and coal mines in particular are one of the most challenging environments for electronic devices. This is especially true for radio communication equipment. The devices must be heavy-duty and nearly bullet-proof but also need to be designed in such a way that they can work in potentially explosive atmosphere, where the smallest spark can lead to catastrophic ignition of coald dust or methane gas.

One of our clients in Poland – Elsta Elektronika is a leading producer of such an equipment. Together we have designed and deployed a family of sensors measuring various parameters inside a longwall, directly where the coal is extracted. Hundreds of these sensors (up to even a thousand) are distributed along the excavation room automatically forming a TSCH-based mesh network, capable of delivering information from one edge of the wall to the other through tens of hops. The sensors are battery-powered and can operate for at least a year on a single battery. The system uses 2.4GHz worldwide radio communication band working simultaneously in multiple available channels.

The cooperation with EMBETECH allowed us to focus on the system integration and data processing aspects that were important to our clients, without the need for costly development of the networking platform.
This has led to a significantly faster than usual time-to-market.

– Marcin Szczurkowski, CEO of Elsta Elektronika

The system was already deployed in several underground locations, with more to follow.

Emergency lighting

Self organizing scalable mesh networking

Emergency lighting is a safety-related system mandatory for many types of buildings. It includes escape lighting as well as backup lighting.

With reliable wireless communication it is possible automate a lot of tasks related to installation and maintenance of emergency lighting devices. These tasks include periodic functionality tests, that are required by law, but also on-line status monitoring, backup battery conditioning etc. Network self-configuration allows to speed up the installation process, as well as adapt to changes within the building interior.

Emergency exit sign on a hospital ceiling - Run!