Tunnel communication, tracking and monitoring
Communications in a tunnel presents a number of challenges. Historically, systems such as Leaky Feeder radio have been used to support either VHF or UHF radios and allow two-way voice communications. N-Connex enables the newest IP based radio solutions to be utilised and in tunnels, their performance is far superior to traditional and dated technologies.
Voice communications in a tunnel are critical for improving safety and maximising development rates. Conversing in real time with personnel simultaneously ensures everyone is working optimally.
Our range of IP voice communication products can be used wherever a WiFi signal is present. This eliminates the need for a secondary, radio-based style solution for voice communications, improving your overall return on investment. Our N-Connex solutions ensure that a tunnel can have 100% WiFi coverage thus ensuring complete coverage for our Voice Communications solution.
The Digital IP radios feature excellent voice quality and being IP based, can easily integrate with sites telephone network or other communications platforms. IP Radios can be handheld or vehicle mounted, our vehicle IP Radio is designed to be internally mounted or can be placed in an IP66 enclosure if necessary.
Intercoms and other voice solutions are also available and will function seamlessly over N-Connex.
Personnel & Asset Tracking
Tracking personnel and vehicles in tunnels can be challenging. Where the tunnels are long and there are twin tunnels in construction, for example road or rail tunnels personnel can be hard to locate. This impacts on safety as well as productivity. NLT’s Tracking solution solves this problem in tunnels. The N-Connex network enables tracking data to be passed to the Tracking Server in near real-time. This ensures the information is relevant and usable for management and safety or emergency personnel.
The Tracking System comprises of:
- Tags –WiFi or RFID based tags that are standalone, or internally cap-lamp mounted.
- Readers – either a dedicated Tag Reader, or the N-Connex Bolt can provide this functionality
- Software – a Graphical User Interface to quickly and easily interpret the data
- Server – A suitable server to store the database and manage connectivity
NLT’s Digital Mine Software is designed is user friendly and offers a range of modules designed to improve both Safety and Productivity. The Tracking module easily allows the locations, history and movement data of an individual, vehicle or asset to be monitored, stored and analysed.
Enabling Tracking of Personnel and Assets is achieved easily and cost effectively when an N-Connex network is installed.
The need for high speed data communications has grown in the tunnelling market. Constructing tunnels now requires more access to systems, hardware and software. The N-Connex high speed Gigabit fibre backbone provides both Ethernet and WiFi access to handle the demands of modern tunnels. N-Connex is standards compliant and will allow any device to connect and operate over the network. N-Connex provides multiple Power over Ethernet (PoE) ports.
Any WiFi enabled device including laptops, smartphones, sensors, PLCS and tags can be connected to the high speed N-Connex network. Important files, such as Safety forms, schematics or surveying plans can be accessed while in the tunnel over a range of devices. Access to emails, servers and the internet can be established in line with company IT policies and security.
Importantly, where Tunnel Boring Machines are used, they can be connected directly to the Gigabit backbone so they critical on-board systems can be monitored and controlled.
Control & Automation
N-Connex enables monitoring and controlling of Electrical Equipment throughout the tunnel(s). The high speed network enables connection of sensors, PLC’s and IoT devices to enable remote monitoring and control to occur. Monitoring and controlling electrical equipment such as pumps or fans enables them to be activated as and when needed.
The Gigabit data backbone of the N-Connex combined with our wireless access points, provide the necessary infrastructure to support the most complex automation tasks.
Data that is transferred over the N-Connex system can be accessed by third party applications, including SCADA packages and via our own Digital Mine Software package.
N-Connex enables all of your underground assets to be monitored and controlled, achieving significant cost savings, increasing productivity, and enhancing safety.
Condition Monitoring in tunnels is critical to ensuring the safety of personnel and for providing optimal working conditions. NLT partners with a range of providers to monitor Environmental, Ventilation, Gas, and Geotechnical conditions.
Integrating these monitoring solutions with the N-Connex system enables real-time monitoring. This critical data can be used to ensure personnel are safe, equipment is being used optimally and that all critical conditions or elements are adequately monitored and analysed. We can connect any monitoring system to your existing software systems, or through NLT Digital Mine Software, giving you access to data at your fingertips.
NLT offers a full range of condition monitoring systems and solutions, including:
- Ventilation Monitoring for highly accurate airflow
- Environmental Monitoring of temperature, humidity, pressure, wet bulb, dry bulb, heat stress index, and more
- Geotechnical Monitoring to detect the most minute ground movement
- Gas Monitoring for all gas types
- Software, integration and networking
Vehicle Management enables key statistics to be monitored on any vehicle. The information is obtained from on-board sensors and relayed via WiFi over the N-Connex network. Monitoring your vehicle fleet provides significant benefits to productivity, cost management and also safety. NLT’s partner, Symboticware provide a range of solutions for any vehicle type. Providing a sensor exists to measure a key parameter, then this can be monitored, measured and analysed allowing for improvements to be made. Commonly available parameters include engine hours, temperatures, load cell information, pressures and so forth.
The Symboticware hardware and software is installed on a vehicle and utilises the N-Connex network to provide a data highway to a server. The data is provided via the Symview Server application and can be displayed in Digital Mine software or in other site data historian packages.
Vehicle Management information is always time-stamped and will be relayed to the server whenever in range of the N-Connex WiFi signal.
N-Connex supports the use of IP cameras to monitor key locations in the tunnels) or on surface. The cameras can be connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi to N-Connex, providing video images in real-time, or on a frame rate that suits the application. N-Connex provides Power over Ethernet (PoE) so that our IP cameras can be connected directly without requiring external power.
While the video images can be accessed via existing site surveillance web servers, NLT can also provide suitable servers to support a full turn-key tunnel video monitoring solution.
Site access can also be tied to video monitoring where required. This can include access gates, tag readers, various tag solutions and software.
Software & Applications
NLT’s Digital Mine Software is a web-based package that provides controlled access to real time critical data. The user interface while being simple to use and intuitive provides in-depth information that ensures tunnelling operations are conducted safely and efficiently. The data is overlaid on your actual tunnel plans so a user can quickly assess the situation and understand any implications implied by the data. Reporting is comprehensive and easily navigated as well as providing the support for customised templates to be created.
Digital Mine Software also integrates with third party hardware and software to provide increased functionality. Equipment status and system health are easily viewed, while personnel information can be interfaced with other systems, including card access. Any vehicle or tag movement patterns can be monitored, ensuring both the safety and efficiency of your equipment operators.
Some of the innovative features, include:
- Map Interface, uses your actual tunnel layout and provides a Google Maps style overview to track or locate anything, including environmental monitoring points
- Zone Management – quickly establish zones that cover specific sections of the tunnel(s) to enhance the capabilities of Tracking or Alarm functions
- Monitor and control equipment based on real time condition monitoring such as fans or pumps
- Emergency alarm and response management
Digital Mine will increase efficiencies and productivity of your workforce while also significantly enhancing the overall safety systems.