• December 5th, 2019
  • 2 min

Designing Rugged Solutions for the Harsh Mining Environment

Our solutions provide mission-critical services to mines around the globe. Hardware reliability is key but designing solutions to survive harsh mining environments is no easy feat. To overcome extreme temperature conditions, shock, vibration, and dust, we build our hardware to meet or exceed military standards.

Solar testing on our stereo camera solution.

Extreme heat is a major threat to hardware, especially in Africa and Australia where the sun is relentless and outside temperatures can reach 60°C. Inside the engine room of a shovel, where most of our system electronics are installed, the ambient temperature approaches 70°C. To ensure the longevity and reliability of our systems under these challenging environmental conditions, we use advanced cooling technologies to efficiently cool key components.

Sub-zero testing on our stereo camera solution.

Cold weather is another challenge our team must overcome when designing hardware and electronics. For example, our customers in Northern Alberta operate their shovels and loaders in temperatures as low as -40°C. Since our computer vision solutions rely on cameras, which typically fog up and accumulate frost in sub-zero environments, we install custom heaters to defog the camera lens and guarantee performance.

Vibration testing on our thermal camera solution (35 GRMS).

A third challenge our hardware faces is shock and vibration. Since they are installed on the shovel boom, our cameras and sensors experience a high degree of shock and vibration generated as the bucket engages the earth. We follow the Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) methodology during product development, which uses accelerated stress conditions to rapidly expose design weaknesses so they can be corrected before products enter the field.

Talcum powder used to simulate the effects of dust on a cooling solution.

Lastly, we consider dust when designing hardware. Mine dust can accumulate rapidly on our cameras, obscuring the lens. To mitigate these concerns, we designed a proprietary lens cleaning system that uses compressed air to maintain a clear ine of site. Dust can also impede air intake for the cooling system, so we seal our components.

With more than 15 years of experience in building tough solutions for the world’s harshest mining environments, we are experts in rugged hardware and electronics design. We understand how vital our products are to the mines at which we do business, and test to the strictest performance standards to maximize reliability.

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