The Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems (SIMS) project partners Boliden and Ericsson, together with telephone company and mobile network operator Telia, have deployed what they state is the world's first 5G network using New Radio (NR) in an operational underground mine.
The network has been deployed at Boliden's Kankberg mine in Sweden. This customer configured network can function stand alone, allowing mining operations to continue even if communication is disrupted to the mine.
Peter Burman, program manager at Boliden, said: "We work actively with robotisation to improve productivity and safety in the mine which requires future proof communication solutions. 5G is an important component enabling advanced automation and by that, a safer and more sustainable mine."
5G technology is superior to other communication solutions for connectivity in demanding environments like mining and manufacturing where continuous operations and close monitoring of processes are required. With characteristics like very low response times and the option for local data handling, 5G is one of the best suited technologies to meet the safety and efficiency requirements of the mine.
"5G is designed to support industry automation and industrial IoT and will be a platform for innovation in industries", explained Magnus Frodigh, head of Ericsson Research. "The Boliden underground mine is a great example of a sector with tough requirements that will benefit immediately. 5G will ensure connectivity for applications with high performance requirements."
Magnus Leonhardt, head of strategy and innovation at Telia, added: "Industry 4.0 is becoming a reality. This is another good example of how 5G can be used to build networks adapted to the customer's operations. To guarantee safety in the mine, for example, the network must function even if communications to the outside world is disrupted. Reliable communications can now be secured with the network we have built."
The deployment builds on long-term collaboration between ecosystem partners; identifying requirements, including these in standardisation and design, and demonstrating technology in a mining environment with key mining use-cases.