Wireless Applications

MSHA Approves New Underground Miner Tracking System

August 5, 2008

The MineTracer System provides continuous or zonal tracking of miners and equipment; has an emergency alert capability or two-way text messaging; and can collect and report sensor data on gases and air flow.

IRWIN, PA /PRNewswire/ -- Wholesale Mine Supply (WMS), Irwin, PA, the "largest supplier of two-way underground communications systems in the U.S.," has added Venture Design's MineTracer Communication and Tracking System to its portfolio. MineTracer was approved for use in underground mines by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in January 2008.

"We are really impressed with this system," said Bill Hensler, WMS President, "Venture Design did their homework, and MineTracer is currently the only wireless tracking system approved by MSHA under 30 CFR Part 23."

Wholesale Mine Supply has over 85 communications system installations nationwide and prides itself in delivering complete turnkey communications solutions. In addition to sales and distribution, WMS provides MineTracer System planning, installation, training, and support services.

MineTracer was designed to provide accurate tracking and flexible coverage areas, and the system is Miner Act–compliant for survivability and standby power capacity. The typical MineTracer System provides continuous or zonal tracking of miners and equipment along main travel entries, work areas, and escapeways. Miners have the option of wearing a tracking device called a Mobile Communicator, which also has an emergency alert capability or a two-way Text Messaging Mobile Communicator, with built-in tracking. Wireless access points (WAPs) collect and communicate location and message data via neighboring WAPs through the network up to the mine office. Three-color LED strobes on the WAPs are used to acknowledge messages sent and to signal section or mine-wide conditions or evacuation. The location of each miner is displayed on a map and in tabular form on a computer in the mine office. Location data for up to hundreds of devices and 28 miles of mine coverage is updated every 20 seconds, providing constant safety monitoring of miners from the mine office. In the event of a mine accident, MineTracer will operate continuously on batteries for days after the power has been cut off to the mine.

In addition to monitoring miners and equipment, MineTracer can also collect and report fixed or mobile sensor data for gases and air flow. Wireless sensors for CO, methane, CO2, and air-flow are available with the MineTracer system.

"We have a portable MineTracer demo kit that allows us to set up a mini-network in an office or mine," said Hensler, "We can demonstrate the system, user-interface, and show how easy it is to place the wireless access points."

"MineTracer has proven its reliability at a reference site installation in West Virginia for over a year," said Hensler, "and Venture has continued to improve the system and recently received MSHA approval for longer range wireless access points and extended standby performance."

For more information, please call Bill Hensler at 724 515-4993.

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