StrataConnect Wireless, Strata Worldwide’s original communication system first launched in 2010, remains the only truly wireless surface-to-underground communication network in the coal-mining market.
When released, StrataConnect Wireless – then known as Strata CommTrac – primarily served as a cost-effective option for mines to meet the US Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) Program Policy Letter (PPL) P11-V-13, “Post-Accident Two-Way Communications and Electronic Tracking.”
Today, the system has evolved and expanded into a highly versatile, flexible network solution to connect any mine’s underground and surface operations.
The fixed underground components are completely wireless and battery-powered, which eliminates cumbersome, time-consuming installations. Quick positioning of Strata CommNodes entails placement of the nodes into heavy-duty, reflective bags and suspending them from the mine roof or rib. Active connections within the system are automatically established, with the newly generated mesh network creating complete coverage throughout the installed area.
There are a wide variety of both Strata-developed and third-party developed accessories which can be fully functional on StrataConnect Wireless networks. Any device equipped with StrataConnect Wireless technology entering the network’s coverage area will automatically be connected and have wireless operation capabilities.
Compatibility with third-party equipment also opens the door to countless options for mining operations, including remote monitoring and device control, sending command and control functions and accessing real-time data readings at will.
Wireless, battery-powered CommNode
The versatility of Strata’s network expands beyond what it can do. Physically, the system can be a complete, stand-alone network to provide communications, tracking, monitoring and remote control of devices mine-wide, or it can be integrated with existing networks to perform specialized functions. When needed, mines can quickly build a short- or long-term hybrid network to serve a specific purpose or cover a particular area of the mine.
Some examples of these additional solutions include communication in temporary work areas; asset tracking for productivity analyses at a specific section; explosive gas monitoring in isolated areas; or fire detection along specified areas of the belt line.
With no need for cabling, repeaters, splitters, J-boxes or intrinsically safe (IS) barriers, the hybrid wireless network is fast and easy to set up and is fully recoverable. Data collected is transmitted to the surface, travelling from the hybrid network to the mine’s existing network and then displayed on the mine’s existing software interface.
Wireless Gas Monitoring
Most recently introduced to the market, and fully functional on all existing StrataConnect networks, is the second-generation Strata-developed miner communicator, MC2. The MC2 is a hand-held communication and personal tracking device that resembles traditional smartphones with a full QWERTY keyboard, large display screen and an easy-to-navigate operating system.
It provides one-on-one and group text messaging, access to a full and automatically updating contact list, data storage for up to 500 messages and the unique ability to reference the location of other individuals underground. Critical alert and response capabilities enable workers to alert others in the event of an emergency, as well as send updates on their own personal status.
The Find Miner function is also applicable to locating equipment underground, and any machine or vehicle equipped with a StrataConnect asset tracker can be located.