Modular Communications Relay for Autonomous Quarry Operation
Abstract: Today’s quarries face a change in the operational processes, where the development of automated transport systems and machines have intensified the necessity for reliable and stable data transfer. Within the dynamic environment, with piles building up suddenly, frequently changing mining faces due to blasting, as well as a frequently changing general environment that affect the network coverage negatively, there is a need for a solution that can adapt to the changing environment. The aim of this research has been to investigate the requirements for a dynamic infrastructure, and develop a platform based on today’s available technical solution components that can act as a dynamic platform for the evolving autonomous quarry. This by also reducing the time the worker is exposed to the harsh environment that the quarry presents. The research was conducted through a combination of a product development strategy and Design Research Methodology to develop a concept that fulfills the customer needs that are identified. An iterative process, where the needs were translated in to prototypes, has created learnings through every step of the development process. The result is a relocatable platform for communications relay, which is mounted on a trailer with a fixed mast to distribute short-wave communications in the area where the mobile unit is needed. The trailer is equipped with a four-point leveling system that also act as a stabilization system for the unit and ensures that the platform maintains a horizontal plane at all times. This platform is a first step towards a fully autonomous management of the communication infrastructure which in the future will be needed when a stable process and connection is necessary in the frequently changing environment. The relocatable platform is a necessity for adaption of the short-wave communication in the constantly changing environment. Since this is a first iteration and concept in the development of a dynamic platform, extensive field tests are required to determine which subcomponents are in need of further development or optimization. The completed prototype for the platform is functional and field ready for further testing in its real environment for further collecting of data points. This concept is a subcomponent of a larger system, where the goal is to increase the productivity and reduce the environmental impact from today’s quarry industry. Through reduction of human interaction and management of the relocation of the mobile unit, the workers safety is increased and the harsh environmental exposure is reduced.
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