“The MSHA approval was recorded on August 7,” Matrix’s Brian Jones said of METS 2.1, the second full system approval of a tracking system by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Specifically, METS 2.1 has received the go-ahead for Intrinsic Safety (IS) and Part 23 approvals for use in underground coal mines by MSHA.
“[It is] the first next-generation system to be approved that is built specifically for underground coal mining and uses a wired-mesh cable system for power and data that doesn't require line-of-sight between nodes,” Jones said.
Added Matrix president Aric Pryor: “MSHA approval of METS 2.1 gives us the green light to proceed with scheduled installations. We are extremely proud of this achievement and appreciate MSHA’s hard work on this project.”
Jones said a 24-reader test installation has been ongoing at Kentucky’s Webster County Coal mine owned by Alliance Coal.
It has already begun its commercial installations; its first one is well underway at Kanawha’s Coalburg operation in West Virginia and several others in the state have commenced as well.
Now that the approval is in hand, Jones noted that the group would be “grateful“ to see a spike in orders for its system – as Matrix has had its entire staff labouring for some time to bring it to its most polished stage for the coal mining community.
“Our distributors currently have POs for a large percentage of the mines in West Virginia and we do expect more though year's end and beyond,” he said.
“Our main distributor in [the state], Delta Electric, has been working non-stop to provide operators with information to make the best decision possible.”
Jones added that some “forward-thinking” mining operators from outside of the state’s borders have also sent in system orders in advance of the MINER Act requirement.
Moving forward, Jones said Matrix will now focus its energies on developing products that it can integrate with the tracking system, including a line of wireless, IS atmospheric monitoring sensors. In fact, its first – an IS CO sensor – is already under review by MSHA.
The METS system has been in use since 2006 for worker and equipment tracking underground across the US. There are currently over 5000 METS tracking tags in production use daily.