Case Study

Optimizing Connectivity: A Case Study in Boosting Cellular Signal for Mining Operations

Customer:

Mafube Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd 

Industry:

Mining

Installation Type:

Open-Pit Mine Site Signal Booster Solution

Building Size:

14638 Hectares

Enhancing Communication Infrastructure

Mafube Coal Mine, is an opencast coal operation, producing seaborne traded thermal coal, as well as coal for Arnot power station. Given the nature of opencast mining, where large areas of land are excavated to extract coal, the operational landscape is vast and varied. This entails a complex network of machinery, personnel, and logistical operations spread across the mine site. Effective communication between different teams, including operators, supervisors, and management, is critical for coordinating these activities efficiently and ensuring operational safety.

 Mafube Colliery Nooitgedacht and Wildfontein coal reserves are existing opencast mining operations situated on certain portions of the farms Roodepoort 418 JS, Nooitgedacht 417 JS, Springboklaagte 416 JS and Patattafontein 412 JS within the Magisterial District of Nkangala, Mpumalanga Province.  

 Mafube Entrance Signage

The Problem

Being a significant player in the coal mining industry, Mafube approached Bolton Technical Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd for a boosting solution proposal for their Nooitgedact open pit mine site. With a commitment to enhancing communication and operational efficiency, Mafube sought a comprehensive solution to address connectivity challenges within its mining operation. 

The primary problem faced by Mafube Coal Mine was poor cellular connectivity within their Nooitgedact open pit mine site. This lack of reliable communication infrastructure hindered operational efficiency and potentially compromised safety protocols within the mine. With fluctuating indoor and outdoor signal strengths, ranging from -106dBm to -126dBm indoors and -101dBm to -109dBm outdoors, employees faced challenges in maintaining consistent communication with colleagues, supervisors, and management. Additionally, the threat of load shedding, compounded by potential theft of backup cell tower batteries, further exacerbated the issue by disrupting cellular network availability. Therefore, the main problem was the inadequate cellular connectivity and its detrimental effects on operations and safety within the mine site.

 

Challenges Faced: The challenges faced in addressing cellular connectivity issues at the Nooitgedact open pit mine site included variability in signal strength, environmental factors like rugged terrain, power supply reliability amidst threats like load shedding and battery theft, customization requirements for the unique mine layout, minimizing operational disruption, and ensuring regulatory compliance. Overcoming these challenges necessitated a comprehensive approach involving technical expertise, strategic planning, and effective coordination between Mafube Coal Mine and Bolton Technical Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd.

The Solution

The proposed solution involved the implementation of a boosting solution utilizing the Wilson Pro product line. Key components included custom-fitted mobile signal trailers, Wilson Pro boosting equipment, necessary accessories, cabling, and backup power systems. Strategic network design and trailer positioning were planned to optimize coverage and signal strength across the mine site. All installed equipment was required to be covered by the mine's insurance policy, ensuring protection against unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, periodic adjustments and maintenance were anticipated to address potential impacts of load shedding on cellular tower batteries. All installed equipment was required to be covered by the mine's insurance policy, ensuring protection against unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, periodic adjustments and maintenance were anticipated to address the potential impacts of load shedding on cellular tower batteries.

 

Pre-Installation Analysis: The pre-installation analysis conducted for the Mafube Coal Mine project involved a comprehensive assessment of the existing cellular signal conditions at the Nooitgedact open pit mine site. This analysis aimed to determine the baseline signal strengths both indoors and outdoors, considering the rugged terrain and potential environmental factors that could affect signal propagation.

Indoor readings were recorded across various locations within the mine site, ranging from -126dBm to -106dBm, while outdoor readings on ground level were observed between -109dBm and -101dBm. These measurements provided crucial insights into the variability of signal strength throughout the site, guiding the design and positioning of the boosting solution components for optimal coverage and performance.

Additionally, the pre-installation analysis likely involved assessing potential sources of interference, such as surrounding structures, equipment, or natural features, which could impact the effectiveness of the boosting solution. By conducting a thorough pre-installation analysis, Bolton Technical could tailor the boosting solution to the specific needs and challenges of the Nooitgedact open pit mine site, ensuring optimal functionality and reliability upon implementation.

 

The Result

The result of the pre-installation analysis provided crucial insights into the cellular signal conditions at the Nooitgedact open pit mine site. With indoor readings ranging from -106dBm to -126dBm and outdoor readings on ground level ranging from -101dBm to -109dBm, the analysis highlighted the variability in signal strength across different areas of the site.

This information guided the design and positioning of the boosting solution for the 4 different pits we had to cover and the components to optimize coverage and signal strength throughout open-pit site. By leveraging this data, Bolton Technical could strategically plan the placement of boosting equipment and antennas to ensure consistent connectivity and communication capabilities for Mafube Coal Mine personnel.

 

Ultimately, the pre-installation analysis served as the foundation for the customized boosting solution proposal, enabling Bolton Technical to address the specific challenges of the Nooitgedact open pit mine site and deliver a solution tailored to Mafube Coal Mine's requirements.

The effectiveness of our solution is evidenced by the substantial improvement in signal readings. Pre-installation, signal readings ranged between -104dB and -118dB, whereas post-installation readings now fall between -48dB and -70dB, surpassing our customers' expectations.

This notable enhancement in signal strength will undoubtedly increase communication reliability and operational efficiency across the 3 locations at the V&A Waterfront. It underscores our steadfast commitment to delivering tailored solutions that address the unique needs of our clients, ultimately contributing to their success and productivity.