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“People can be seen if cameras are available, or heard at any given point including people around the continuous miner because they have access to the Wi-Fi bubble. Previously this was not possible due to a lack of communications” – Brad Price, Ensham

General communications and the reporting of incidents occurring around the coal face has traditionally been hampered by the need for mine employees to physically walk back to the crib room and pick up the phone in order to request help. A new combination of powerline and Wi-Fi comms technology solves this communication lag that can often come at a critical time, by enabling immediate reporting of safety incidents from the face.

This has been achieved by connecting a NLT Wi-Fi access point to the powerline modem in the continuous miner. This creates a wireless comms zone or ‘bubble’ around the machine. Workers located within the bubble can use phones and messaging systems and cameras to communicate with workers on the surface in real time – either for emergencies or just day to day comms.

Ensham Electrical Engineering Superintendent Brad Price says the new underground communications system is a world first for underground coal, and since being
installed has been faultless.

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