Maestro's Zephyr AQS is a compact, low-cost environmental air quality monitoring station for underground mines. The Zephyr AQS is an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) device that connects directly to an industrial network without the requirement of adding an expensive and complex programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and several analogue-based instruments.
As the Zephyr AQS is a digital device, not only are the real time environmental conditions reported back to surface via a single ethernet connection, but all the advanced diagnostic data is available too, assuring maximum uptime.
Michael Gribbons, vice president sales and marketing at Maestro Digital Mine, told the audience at the launch event: "The Zephyr AQS was developed to satisfy 75% of all the air monitoring requirements of a modern mine. Airflow rate, airflow direction, gas levels, barometric pressure and wet/dry bulb temperatures can be measured in real time and now affordably. The Zephyr AQS is designed for any mine aiming to increase production, improve miner worker safety and reduce energy by monitoring and controlling ventilation air in an underground operation.
"The first step of working to control ventilation is the requirement of measurement. Only then can you start to understand and drive value to increasing production by getting the miners back to the face quicker and safer. Or, reducing the energy demand by providing enough ventilation air to the areas of the mine that need it and reducing air to the non-working areas of the mine."
Like all Maestro's solutions, the Zephyr AQS is fully digital solution that can be plugged into a network switch without the requirement for expensive PLCs, PLC cabinets and all the associated wiring, terminations, software and complex labour for integration into the network.
Based on direct customer feedback, Maestro's digital products can save mining companies 40-60% of CAPEX on average when compared to conventional monitoring solutions. All Maestro solutions are provided with lifetime, free firmware updates. The company added that the full savings to mining clients is in the range of 70-80% over the full life cycle with no hidden hooks or costs to bear in the OPEX maintenance cycle.
The new Zephyr AQS air quality station features three fully configurable sensor inputs that can be freely mixed and matched according to the customer's requirements. Like Maestro's Vigilante AQS, the Zephyr AQS will be configured through built-in webpages similar to that of a home network router. All the sensors are connected to the Zephyr AQS electronics digitally supported by the way that the Zephyr AQS communicates over the mine's network using standard network protocols. Maestro fully supports both of the two most popular network communication protocols - Modbus TCP/IP and EtherNet/IP. Alternately, the Zephyr AQS offers on-board analogue outputs (3 x 4-20mA) and two relay outputs to tie into legacy systems.
David Ballantyne, vice president of development and technology at Maestro Digital Mine, remarked: "The Zephyr AQS is considered the baby sister of the Vigilante AQS. Both provide plug-and-play sensors, and both are fully digital.
"However, the Vigilante AQS supports seven plug-and-play ports vs three for the Zephyr AQS. The Vigilante AQS also provides four complete PID [proportional - integral - derivative] control loops to allow it to run autonomously in the event of network failure. It can also integrate up to 24 RTD sensors used in primary fan and booster fan applications."
The Vigilante AQS was created to solve 100% of the applications for mine ventilation monitoring and controlling; however, solving all the applications with a single device adds extra costs for most of the simpler requirements. Maestro has supplied over 120 mines globally with this equipment, but also recognised that a lighter version would be adequate for many of the mines in price sensitive markets such as Latin America and Africa.
Maestro has 100 units sold pre-delivery from three existing hard rock mining customers in Canada, the US and Spain.