Westmoreland deploys Zebra's WLAN infrastructure

Zebra Technologies' wireless (WLAN) AP 7161 access point is being deployed by Westmoreland Coal Co at its Kemmerer mine in Wyoming, which is the oldest open-pit coal mine in the US.

Ailbhe Goodbody
Westmoreland Coal Co's Kemmerer mine in Wyoming, US

Westmoreland Coal Co's Kemmerer mine in Wyoming, US

Zebra Technologies is a global provider of solutions and services that provide real-time visibility into organisations’ assets, people and transactions. The deployment was aided by KNS Communications Consultants, a provider of high-end technical solutions for wireless implementations.

The Kemmerer mine has over 70 pieces of mining equipment spread across 5,423ha, which all needed to be reliably and constantly connected to the mine’s WLAN network. Westmoreland wanted to improve the efficiency and profitability of the Kemmerer mine by enabling remote monitoring and maintenance, connecting the equipment and fleet management system, and extending internet access to all on-site workers and contractors.

Zebra Technologies stated that the advantages of the AP 7161 include:

  • Improved data collection, as the AP 7161 can be installed on vehicles such as shovels and backhoes that can pull information from the equipment and improve day-to-day management;
  • A dramatic reduction in shovel repair costs, as engineers can perform most repairs remotely in less than an hour, compared to the average of two to three days;
  • A substantial increase in equipment uptime, as the real-time data collected from the equipment has allowed maintenance engineers to perform timely programming upkeep to optimise operations and prevent equipment breakdown, saving millions of dollars;
  • Added mine production, as the streamlined processes and increased equipment availability translate into reduced idle time and movement of more loads per shift;
  • Increased equipment lifecycle, as timely maintenance and the ability to monitor and manage how operators treat equipment helps extend the life expectancy of the equipment; and
  • Improved wireless network utilisation, as the network administrators can monitor all users and traffic on the wireless network to prevent unauthorised use and pinpoint which access point and mobile device are involved.

Don Rily, Kemmerer IT director at Westmoreland Coal Co, said: “We take pride in deploying state-of-the-art technologies to maximise equipment utilisation, production, operational efficiencies and worker safety. We chose KNS Communications Consultants and Zebra for their experience and the reliability and superior bandwidth of the WLAN solution. It was the best option available for a rugged environment, and we are extremely pleased with the performance and cost savings offered by this solution.”

Imran Akbar, vice president, enterprise networking communications at Zebra Technologies, commented: “We are delighted to be working with KNS Communications Consultants to provide Westmoreland with increased visibility into their operations at the Kemmerer mine. Our WLAN infrastructure has improved the mine’s operational efficiency, productivity and profitability, and it has given their mobile workers increased connectivity needed to excel in a tough environment.”

Sue Thomas, president at KNS Communications Consultants, added: “The reliability, ease of deployment and power of the AP 7161 is why this solution was the perfect fit at Kemmerer. Additionally, the predictability and support we get from Zebra is why we use it in many of our worldwide deployments.”

A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the mining sector, brought to you by the Mining Magazine Intelligence team.

A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the mining sector, brought to you by the Mining Magazine Intelligence team.


Mining Magazine Intelligence Future Fleets Report 2024

The report paints a picture of the equipment landscape and includes detailed profiles of mines that are employing these fleets


Mining Magazine Intelligence Digitalisation Report 2023

An in-depth review of operations that use digitalisation technology to drive improvements across all areas of mining production


Mining Magazine Intelligence Automation Report 2023

An in-depth review of operations using autonomous solutions in every region and sector, including analysis of the factors driving investment decisions


Mining Magazine Intelligence Exploration Report 2023 (feat. Opaxe data)

A comprehensive review of current exploration rates, trending exploration technologies, a ranking of top drill intercepts and a catalog of 2022 Initial Resource Estimates and recent discovery successes.