High-Performance GPS - Essential for Mining Industries


trucks working at a mine site using GPS technology

Beneath the skies of the world's challenging mining territories, GPS technology is quietly transforming raw landscapes into smart, navigable mazes of high efficiency and safety. The Global Positioning System (GPS) is not just a tool but a game-changer for mining operations across the globe. From the expansive open pits under the sun to the more complicated locations, GPS technology releases a wide net, enhancing safety, securing the site, and skyrocketing productivity and profitability. Embracing this navigator could be your company’s compass to success—guiding through complex terrains, around costly obstacles, and towards precisely positioned for optimal outcomes.

The Significance of GPS Technology in Mining

GPS technology has changed the way the mining industry operates. Without GPS technology today, a mining company would struggle to keep pace with competitors. This cutting-edge technology plays a critical role in various aspects of mining operations, from exploration and excavation to safety and management.

Improved Safety with GPS on Mine Sites

GPS has improved safety on mine sites because it allows for geofencing, which involves setting a virtual perimeter around a potentially hazardous area of the mine. The no-go zones mean workers are kept clear of dangerous areas, such as blast zones. When an incident occurs, the exact location is known so that emergency assistance can be provided in the fastest possible time using GPS coordinates.

GPS Improving Mine Site Efficiencies 

GPS has improved mine site efficiency in several ways: surveying and mapping were made more efficient with GPS devices. Real-time and exact positioning data means more accurate mine plans in shorter surveying timeframes. 

GPS devices have also allowed better route planning and management of traffic around the mine, so machinery spends less time idling and more time on the move, saving fuel and time. 

With GPS trackers fitted to loaders and haul trucks, operators can keep track of the loading and unloading and make better use of resources. The more accurate data available with GPS tracking means more accurate production predictions, fleet management, and performance tracking of equipment and workers are possible. 

Precision Improvement with GPS Mining 

GPS technology has taken much of the guesswork out of mining. Without GPS, the large scale of mine sites meant mapping wasn’t that accurate and analysing data was rudimentary. With GPS technology, precision increased dramatically. A mine operator can know the exact location of a large fleet and how production is progressing for the shift to make better-informed decisions.

Benefits of GPS Mining

Since GPS was made available in the 1990s, surface mining has changed rapidly. GPS mining means mines have a tool to improve productivity, lower costs, and improve safety. Although the benefits of GPS mining are hard to quantify regarding efficiency and safety, the Intergovernmental Forum (IGF) estimates that digitising mining processes and safety tools could save 1,000 lives and reduce injuries by 44,000. 

GPS solutions have enhanced navigation, making it easier and quicker to survey mine sites and workers to navigate around a large site. GPS-enabled asset tracking means truck locations get sent to a central control station, and drivers get instructions on where to collect and dump. This helps ensure the truck is always engaged in productive work rather than wasting time waiting. The data available from GPS has allowed mine sites to improve their operations - the overall productivity and bottom line.

Challenges of GPS Mining

For most mine sites, GPS devices work well almost all the time. However, the remote location of mine sites, harsh conditions, and high walls can make GPS more difficult in some mine locations. Rugged devices are highly recommended instead of consumer devices as these are designed to withstand the rough treatment. Investing in good quality equipment pays dividends with reduced downtime due to repairs and replacement. 

While collecting all this GPS-driven data is ideal for efficiency and safety, no mining company would want it to fall into the wrong hands. Data security is a growing concern for all industries, and mining companies are also at risk of a range of threats, including cyber-attacks, data theft and breaches, and data loss. Investing in high-quality devices with the most advanced security available reduces the risk of data loss. Mining companies can also invest in data encryption, backup, authentication, and recovery to improve data security.   

Collecting GPS data is only beneficial if it’s analysed correctly. Data analysis can be difficult because of the sheer volume of data and its complexity and diversity. Having the right programs and staff to perform the analysis can ensure the organisation gets the most value out of the data.  

Interference of the signal can be a problem on some sites when the strength of the GPS signal is poor. It can occur due to weather, solar activity, radio noise, jamming, or spoofing. The interference can cause errors or biases in the GPS measurements, but there are systems available to overcome signal interference. 

While GPS is ideal for surface mining, it doesn’t work for underground mining because GPS devices can’t gain direct line-of-site access to GPS satellites. Other technologies have been developed for underground mining, but they aren’t nearly as good as the real-time tracking capabilities of GPS connectivity. 

Ensuring Safety and Compliance

The number one concern of the Australian mining industry is safety. Keeping staff and contractors safe on-site takes time and money.

Luckily, with GPS technology, the investigating mine safety officer or WorkSafe no longer relies on eyewitness accounts in case of an incident or near miss. The technology on the truck, loader, or grader can provide accurate information on their current and previous locations. The improvised accuracy of the information has helped improve training and safety.     

The mining industry has some of the strictest compliance requirements of any Australian industry. The compliance obligations are in place not only for safety but also for environmental purposes. In the past, the remoteness of most mine sites allowed some operators to avoid following all requirements and couldn’t be held accountable. With GPS technology, there’s now a data trail of where and when work was done.    
There are some areas where road signs or landmarks are nowhere to be found, and many mine-site workers struggle to identify the site's location. Without GPS, they may end up lost and in case of an accident, unable to direct a colleague or emergency services to find them.

A lone worker can use Push-to-Talk technology to communicate with colleagues in time-critical situations. Instant communication and exact locations via GPS make it safer for mine workers and easier for multiple services to be available in case of an incident.

Roaming Technologies' Cutting-Edge GPS Solutions

Many of the products sold at Roaming Technologies to the mining and other field-based industries include integrated GPS for fast connectivity, high-speed streaming, and fewer dropouts. Getac also offers an optional dedicated GPS receiver for accurate location tracking. 

If you’re looking for a rugged device that meets the needs of your mine site, call our team for assistance at 1300 131 933 or get in touch online. 

Category: News