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Vale Mine Turns to IMT to Track Assets & Productivity

Vale

Asset Tracking at Vale's Stobie MineVale, one of the world’s mining giants, rolled out a Wi-Fi-based RFID asset-tracking solution installed by IMT and manufactured by Ekahau. The company deployed the solution at its Stobie and North mines, located in Sudbury, Ontario. Derek Buchanan, senior maintenance manager of communication and automation for Vale, says the RFID tracking system is part of a wider initiative to equip its underground mines with Wi-Fi access points for communication, asset tracking and automation applications. In parts of its underground mines, for example, the company is now using a voice-over-Internet protocol (VOIP) communication system.

The Stobie Mine recently tested Ekahau tags to track the movement of trucks entering the mine and later returning to an ore-deposition site. The pilot was conducted to test whether the mining company could rely on the Ekahau tags and software to track a truck driver’s cycle times (how long it takes a driver to retrieve ore and transport it to its deposition site—a metric currently tracked with pen and paper. Buchanan says the test results were positive, and that Vale plans to use the IMT solution to track cycle times on a permanent basis. The IMT solution consists of 2.45 GHz RFID tags transmitting unique IDs using the IEEE 802.11 (Wi-Fi) standard to access points linked to a wireless LAN, along with tracking software that maps tag location in real time.