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MacLean and Maestro bring underground connectivity to MacLean R&D facility



Plexus PowerNet network Credit: MacLean and Maestro

Plexus PowerNet network Credit: MacLean and Maestro

MacLean Engineering continues to advance its Research and Demonstration (R&D) facility in Sudbury, where, in collaboration with Maestro Digital Mine, the company recently integrated the Plexus PowerNet gigabit network, which provides both data and power using coaxial cable throughout the mine for underground connectivity.

The MacLean mobile equipment R&D lab allows the company to develop and test new mining technologies completely in-house. The underground test facility includes a 300-metre (1,000 ft.) decline (at an average grade of 15%), branching into multiple headings and test areas. The facility includes additional shop and office space to provide MacLean’s engineers and operator trainers with an optimal setting for putting mining innovation theory into practice.

Maestro Digital Mine works with mining companies around the world to address the challenges associated with traditional communication backbone solutions (broadband and fiber). MacLean identified the value and benefits of Maestro’s backbone network solution and worked with the Maestro team to install the system. According to the release, the Plexus PowerNet can quickly and simply extend the mines’ existing communications network to the face.

“Collaboration up and down the supply chain is critical to making innovation happen in the underground mining sector at home and around the globe,” Stuart Lister, MacLean’s VP of marketing and communications, said in the release. “We’re delighted to work with another company in Greater Sudbury’s mining ecosystem, Maestro Digital Mine, to get their top-of-the-line digital infrastructure installed at our Research and Demonstration facility, where it will be backbone of our automation product development.”

Plexus PowerNet delivers a high-speed, low-latency digital communication network that provides PoE+ (Power over Ethernet) power to Access Points (APs), cameras and other IP (internet protocol)-based devices. The system eliminates the need for costly outside fiber optic contractors and can be installed and maintained by any internal tradesperson or development miner.

The Plexus PowerNet can be used in mines with or without a fiber optic network. It supports existing underground mine infrastructure and provides network connectivity to new IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) devices and automation technologies for digital mines, such as the MacLean R&D facility.

Plexus provides a robust, simple to deploy, one-cable solution for network connectivity. Plexus installation is done using a single coaxial cable that carries both power and network Page 2 connectivity, eliminating the need to run both fiber and power to new network devices. EZ Advance Nodes provide an easy way to terminate, troubleshoot and deploy industry-standard IP devices from the Plexus PowerNet-embedded network switch. The Plexus has been designed for the quickest “last mile” of communication.

“Our vision for the Plexus is to change the way that underground mines communicate and to strip out complexity in automation jobs and make configuration flexible and easy,” added Michael Gribbons, co-founder and CEO of Maestro Digital Mine. “We strive to make the complex, simple. Working with MacLean Engineering, the Plexus accelerates their time to connectivity and enables MacLean to bring in other new and innovative digital technologies and automation equipment for testing and demonstration at their centre. We are honoured to be part of the MacLean R&D facility. This underground R&D lab continues to build upon the strength and wealth of mining knowledge and expertise in Greater Sudbury and Northern Ontario.”

For more information about the Plexus PowerNet, visit www.MaestroDigitalMine.com.