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Information at your fingertips – Bucyrus offers Miner’s Digital Assistant (MDA)

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

Rapid advances in mining and automation technology over the last 20 years have placed new demands on test & measurement equipment. In the past, many problems could be solved with a multimeter, but the use of sophisticated new wireless and fiber-optic communication technologies with high baud rates requires new types of equipment. Bucyrus has developed an underground Miner’s Digital Assistant (MDA) to meet this need.
In the past, most control circuits in mine circuits involved low data transfer rates via copper wires, so a circuit analyzer was an adequate troubleshooting tool. But Ethernet, Internet protocol (IP) connections, fiber optics and wireless technology demand much more sophisticated test & measurement equipment. Such equipment exists, of course, but it also has to be intrinsically safe to be useable underground.
Together with a sub-supplier Bucyrus has developed an intrinsically safe Miner’s Digital Assistant (MDA) for use in network and maintenance tasks. The MDA is specifically designed for this role and for use in explosion-hazard areas. A serial port allows direct connection to embedded controls such as Bucyrus’ Programmable Mining Controllers (PMCs), while a diagnostic port allows monitoring of communications and signal quality, and display of clients logged into the network.
The MDA comes equipped with a 1 GB memory card for storage of programs and data. The fact that the MDA can store service documents, product manuals and other information (or access these via the network) saves trips to the surface to review technical documentation as was often necessary in the past. The MDA can also store all required software programs and backups, such as those for electrohydraulic roof support controls (PMC®-R) and drive controls (PMC®-D), making it unnecessary to carry numerous memory sticks or controllers.
The progress and success of each upload or download can be monitored on the MDA – important when used with equipment which has no graphical user interface. Data can also be downloaded from PMCs, allowing it to be taken to the surface for analysis.
The MDA can establish a connection to the network via serial port or Wireless LAN, and can then ‘ping’ individual network users to check if they are connected to the network to measure the round-trip time and any packet loss. The MDA also has embedded software for network analysis (measuring speed, transmission errors etc.)
The 3½” 64,000-color graphical display is driven by Windows Mobile Pocket PC. The MDA can connect directly into a PMC network or shearer via wireless LAN and a special serial interface allows a point-to-point connection to be established.
The MDA comes in an antistatic non-corroding housing with degree of protection IP 65. It is designed to withstand a drop onto concrete from a height of one meter (3 ¼ feet). It has an impact-resistant TFT touchscreen display.
The Bucyrus MDA has already been approved for underground use in Europe and Australia. Certifications regarding the US, Russia and China are well advanced.
For further information visit: www.bucyrus.com

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