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Case Study – OTSC

The Operational Technology Support Centre (OTSC) is the hub of technological excellence for autonomy operations.

The OTSC team consists of a team of highly specialised engineers and support workers that have come from diverse operational backgrounds. The team have extensive knowledge of IP networks, radio communication, satellite communication and fleet management systems. We bring this collective knowledge to each and every client we interact with.

The Operation

The subject of this issue was a mine in Western Australia. It consisted of over 45 Autonomous Haulage Trucks (AHT’s) and over 1000 connected devices to keep the system running. Large open-pit iron ore mines are reliant on wireless network to support 24×7 operations.

The Problem

A Switching loop or bridge loop occurs in computer networks when there is more than one Layer 2 (OSI model) path between two endpoints (e.g. multiple connections between two network switches or two ports on the same switch connected to each other). Configuring a wireless client generally requires a technician to connect to the radio via a console cable and laptop and then connecting the radio to the network.  The way the radios were being commissioned  by plugging the radio in to the network using an Ethernet cable. If the technician isn’t careful when installing, they can create a switch loop. In this case the loop was created by the radio being connected via an ethernet cable and connected to the WIFI.

When a layer 2 switching loop occurs, the wireless network supporting the mines critical assets are flooded with broadcast traffic, crippling the network’s ability to transport useful data. As a result, FMS network traffic is lost and assets stop moving site wide. This typically occurs  when fault finding or configuring spare and replacement equipment

The Solution

The OTSC team was able to identify indicators in the system logs reported by the Wireless LAN Controller (WLC) and produced a trigger in our IMS platform to alert operators to this specific issue. By being able to actively alert on not only the issue that is occurring, but also being able to identify which device is the root cause, meant that the operation could reduce its MTTR enormously for events of this type. The OTSC intimately understands the customers network hardware and constantly fine tunes parameters and adjusts trigger thresholds to ensure that any error unique to the site is captured and remedied immediately. Our team’s experience allows for quick resolution to issues on a site and advises clients on the best way to mitigate these from occurring in the future. 

FTP offers bespoke solutions to mine sites utilising our OTSC team to provide round the clock monitoring of data to identify and mitigate any issues on the network. Using our IMS platform, the team can provide in-depth analysis of your operations so miners have a better operational understanding and can focus their efforts on the most important aspects of their business.

To find our more about our IMS platform and how our Operational Technology Support Centre (OTSC) can assist you and your mining operations, submit a contact form here.