Supplier beats comms deadline

COMMUNICATIONS and tracking system supplier Strata Safety Products said all US mines that installed its Strata CommTrac system were compliant on June 15, the federally-mandated deadline for the placement of communications and tracking devices underground.
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The Strata CommTrac system.

Donna Schmidt

“As specified in the US Mine Safety and Health Administration’s Program Policy Letter P11-V-13, all US coal mines are required to have two-way post-emergency communications and electronic location tracking systems installed as of June 15,, 2011,” the Georgia-based company said, referring to the outlines of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006, or MINER Act.

“In response to this regulation, Strata Safety Products announced Strata CommTrac in January 2010, offering customers a completely wireless option to remain compliant.”

Strata officials said its purchase order list at the beginning of May included less than 20 mines awaiting installation prior to the June 15 deadline and all were now complete.

The wireless, battery-operated mesh communications and tracking system is made up of an underground network of stand-alone fixed communication nodes that communicate with miner-worn mobile devices to transmit data between miners underground and surface personnel. It is completely untethered to permit “pick and place” installation.

Strata CommTrac also has no external antennas, offers bread-crumb tracking to within 200 feet as well as direction of travel, and has real-time surface interface visuals.

“The ease and speed of a CommTrac installation makes implementation of the system significantly less time consuming than alternative systems,” chief operating officer Mike Berube said.

“One particular mine in Virginia was fully installed and operational in a span of five hours.”

Strata’s system received MSHA approval in November 2011. Since that time, Strata said, it had gained more than 10% of the market.

In addition to communications and tracking products, Strata Products Worldwide also supplies emergency refuge chambers, underground mining roof support products and mine construction services to underground mining operations.