Australian Mining Magazine: Bringing real-time equipment monitoring to mining

Ctrack already provides companies with complete visibility of their fleet, from a vehicle’s whereabouts to driver performance, through its vehicle tracking solutions. Now the company has turned its attention to real-time asset visibility, writes Salomae Haselgrove.

To make real-time asset monitoring a reality, Ctrack is unveiling a new product, Ctrack Asset.

The product, which just launched this March, will make a variety of different devices available depending on the application.

Through Ctrack Asset, companies will be able to monitor both powered and non-powered assets, from mining vehicles to equipment such as ladders and toolboxes.

As Ctrack technical and product lead Dale Kingston explains, this can be used in open cut and underground operations, as the Ctrack Asset platform features options for both indoor and outdoor tracking.

“There’s a variety of different options in mining,” Kingston tells Australian Mining. “Companies can opt to just locate an asset on a day-by-day basis, all the way through to live visibility on the asset as well, if it is hooked up to a powered vehicle.

“As well as traditional outdoor tracking options, there are also options for indoor or underground tracking in areas where GPS coverage can be an issue.

“There are certain devices that can connect via the site’s WiFi network, and perform an address look-up.

“If you’re tracking assets without GPS coverage, then you will still be able to locate that device or asset.”

The Ctrack Asset platform launch is exciting because the product can be used in an underground environment or out of normal GPS coverage. The product’s value from a maintenance perspective only adds to the excitement.

Instead of focussing on the traditional bodies tracked, such as monitoring a site’s fleet of machinery and watching for driver performance and vehicle location, Ctrack’s Asset can be used to keep track of maintenance needs.

“Through the platform, you are able to keep tabs on maintenance,” Kingston explains. “This includes when the vehicle was last serviced etc, so you’re able to make sure you’ve got a good record of all the maintenance that an asset may need.

“Using the maintenance recorders within the system you’re (also) able to keep tabs on what the maintenance costs are against the asset. It’s making sure that an asset has an overhaul or service at the defined interval.”

To make monitoring maintenance schedules even easier for site managers, users can set up alerts on Ctrack Asset to give scheduled reminders of timetables, which can be set up on both iOS and Android devices.

The alerts are not just assigned for the right piece of equipment, but also the right operator for the job, according to Kingston.

“Basically, you can create a schedule and then set up an alert, so it comes through as a pop up on your phone or as an email,” Kingston says.

“We’ve gone for a very clean and basic approach, so it’s very intuitive for day to day use.”

Another solution Ctrack provides is a Bluetooth tag and gateway solution, which is ideal for lower cost assets, according to Kingston.

The gateways can be placed at strategic locations around a mine site and are configured to provide a positional update at an interval as defined by the operator, such as every half an hour or hour, depending on the operation.

This goes hand in hand with the AT-04 device, which can be fitted to stationary or moving assets.

Upon updating, the gateway solution also relays a positional update to all BT-01 BLE tags within range, allowing for further innovative asset tracking.

This range of equipment allows Ctrack to offer a versatile solution, from a basic Bluetooth asset tracker that is reliant on the gateway for its position, to standalone devices that can be used for larger machinery, including excavators.

“These have their own sim card and communication protocol, whereas the Bluetooth tags are designed more for smaller assets,” Kingston says.

Ctrack asset management devices have security in mind, with options to locate or recover an asset if it is stolen from a site, as well as getting in-depth updates on battery life and managing expenses on the asset.

“You can also set more customised alerts if an asset moves outside of a designated zone or if it’s used after hours,” Kingston explains.

Kingston himself is an expert about not only the Asset platform product but across all aspects of Ctrack’s business, with 16 years under his belt in multiple disciplines.

During his time with Ctrack, Kingston has worked in installation, customer support, operations and product development.

“With the background I’ve had, it gives me that insight into how (clients) are going to install it and how it is actually going to be operated,” Kingston says.

“Then from a support perspective, I know how they’re going to use the system as well, so it definitely helps with implementing these kinds of systems and solutions.”

Although the Asset platform is Ctrack’s newest release, it is just the start of a big year for the company.

Ctrack also plans to release a new fleet tracking software in the coming months, as well as various video solutions, allowing operators to embed video into the tracking platform.

“We’re investing quite heavily in development, making sure we’ve got a full spread, not only introducing new products, but enhancing the existing ones we have as well,” Kingston concludes.

Content courtesy of Australian Mining Magazine.

Australian Mining: Bringing real-time equipment monitoring to mining