ABB Wireless Network Improves Efficiency for PotashCorp Mine

Oct. 16, 2013
ABB Tropos' case study of a broadband communications network they've installed at Potash Corporation's White Springs facility, linking the 100,000 acre mining site to the operations center.

ABB Tropos Wireless Communication Systems has deployed an outdoor wireless communications network for White Springs Agricultural Chemicals, Inc. (PotashCorp – White Springs) 100,000 acre White Springs, Florida 24x7 mining operations. The ABB Tropos broadband network will transport telemetry data from mining and process equipment to the facility’s operations center, enabling PotashCorp-White Springs to vastly increase efficiency, equipment uptime and worker safety – challenges that plague mining operations.  

ABB Tropos provided wireless backbone infrastructure for 100,000 acre mine

PotashCorp is the world’s largest crop nutrient company and plays an integral role in global food production. The White Springs location operates around the clock producing phosphate products for agricultural and industrial uses, employing more than 700 people to operate its phosphate mine and two chemical plants.

To improve operational efficiency and safety, White Springs’ plant managers needed near real-time access to data from the mining pit. In addition, video in the mining pit was needed for analysis of the amount of material being mined and to aid operations in the planning of transporting materials from the pit to the processing plant. Also, the ability to monitor real-time video remotely would enable managers to ensure safety protocols were being followed. The ABB Tropos broadband network easily solved these issues providing mine personnel with the visibility they need for up-to-the minute mine status. 

Moreover, critical to the production flow are early problem detection and alerts for preventative maintenance. Data stored locally and downloaded periodically limited the ability for operations personnel to detect equipment problems. Now, the ABB Tropos Wireless network monitors draglines and other in-pit equipment in real-time, providing telemetry data which is collected and analyzed to recommend scheduled maintenance for the equipment and ensure it is operating within set parameters, minimizing downtime. Travel time has also been reduced since the pit team can remain with the draglines while sending information to operations quickly and reliably, increasing productivity and improving safety. 

"After a thorough review during which we evaluated wireless technologies already deployed at our site as well as alternatives that we had not previously examined, we chose Tropos Networks to provide the wireless broadband network in our mine, said Gary Peterson, Superintendent IT for PostashCorp – White Springs. "The Tropos equipment and software provides the cost-effectiveness, mobility support and ease of deployment that we require."

Equipped with over 20 Tropos mesh routers installed at the mining site, the ABB Tropos wireless network will relay voice and data information with plans to use more nodes to track equipment in the pit. Moreover, due to the robustness and low latency of the network – operating in a harsh environment including vibration, heat and dust – additional video cameras are planned for security and near real-time monitoring of processes.

"Efficient and safe operations are paramount to PotashCorp – White Springs," said Tom Ayers, president and chief executive officer, Tropos Networks. "Our technology promotes worker safety through real-time video surveillance, remote location reliability and enhanced security. We’re pleased that our robust ABB Tropos network could solve PotashCorp – White Springs’ challenges of achieving near-real time operational status throughout their vast mining site."

In addition to this location, an ABB Tropos wireless network is deployed at PotashCorp’s facility in Aurora, North Carolina.