IoT Automation finds a capable partner in LAPP Australia as it develops world-leading mine emergency system

The IoT Automation Firefly Smart Lighting system for underground mines

Tailored cable connection solutions from LAPP Australia are now being used in an innovative lighting system from the Australian company, IoT Automation in a product designed to set world benchmarks in mine safety and emergency communication

The expert team from IoT Automation developed a software-controlled intelligent lighting system called Firefly Smart Lighting System, which also enables safe evacuations and emergency measures in underground mines.

The Firefly Smart Lighting System is a robust, purposeful and intuitive system that improves visibility, workflow and, above all, safety in the mine It is networked with a central control server that coordinates the Firefly UPS control panels centrally underground. These Firefly UPS control fields control the lighting by supplying the Firefly LED lighting modules with battery-buffered power and communication. The Firefly UPS control panels can be operated as an independent lighting cell or can be connected to the central control server to form a site-wide intelligent lighting network. The multi-colour, addressable LED assembly from Firefly can provide red, green, yellow, blue or white tunnel lighting as required. It is also designed to provide emergency or evacuation lighting stages for underground workers.

Lapp Australia General Manager, Mr Simon Pullinger, says IoT originally ordered the required cable harnesses (including LAPP ÖLFLEX® instrument cables) from a provider outside of Australia. However, due to the complex requirements, there were repeatedly problems with delivery, which meant that the company initially decided to assemble the cable harnesses itself and buy the required cables directly from LAPP Australia.

The IoT Automation Firefly Smart Lighting System features strong redundancy safety features

“But LAPP can do much more than just produce and supply cables,” says Mr Pullinger. “When it comes to tailored connection solutions, we have strong capability as a system supplier and development partner. That is why Robin Paine, Managing Director & Co-founder of IoT Automation, called LAPP Australia and asked whether he could purchase the pre-assembled cable harnesses required directly from LAPP in Australia”.

That was no problem for our LAPP team “Down Under”,” said Mr Pullinger. “We received drawings and target prices, followed by a forecast of usage.

“In co-ordination with our LAPP colleagues in Singapore, we have also been able to guarantee the customer that all cables are available in our warehouse in Eastern Creek and that no time-consuming transport times are involved,” said Mr Pullinger.

LAPP Australia, which has also offices in the USA and Chile to back up users of the IoT system, has a large warehouse in Australia with more than 3,000 product lines, immediately available for shipment on the same day, in addition to having quick access to the global LAPP network of product and expertise.

IoT Automation was also impressed by this local supply . “We were looking for a partner, from whom we could order our cable harnesses Just in Time (JIT) and without time delays or downtime. With the cable harnesses from LAPP, we can once again concentrate on our core competencies and ensure that our Firefly Smart lighting system is used even more effectively in the mining industry,” says Robin Paine.

Each module of the system has a built-in 1.5Ah +3.7VDC lithium polymer battery (LiPo), which enables an operating time of three hours. If the connecting cable between the Firefly lamp and the US control panel is ever damaged or cut, this is an important safeguard for failures. As the battery level decreases, the intensity of the Firefly light is slowly reduced so that a longer runtime can be achieved.

Video: © IoT Automation: FireFly Smart Lighting: A World-First in Mine Safety and Emergency Communication

The 18 high-performance LEDs in the Firefly offer a wide beaming angle of 110-135 while simultaneously providing high power efficiency. This ensures maximum lighting and visibility for the workers. At a distance of 20 m between the Firefly modules, an illumination of over 70 Lux can be achieved in a 5 x 5 m mine tunnel.

The Firefly modules are supplied with a voltage of 6-60 VDC and controlled via an RS485 communication bus, both of which are supplied by single four-core instrument cables INSTRUM RE-Y(ST)Y and INSRUM RE-Y(ST)YRY from the Firefly UPS control panel. This means that the high-intensity Firefly lights can be easily positioned at 20 m-long crossroads along the tunnel.

Each Firefly light is equipped with a 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE 5.0) radio device to provide a redundant wireless communication path in the event of damage to the control cable. This function enables every Firefly unit to track and position a Wi-Fi or BLE tag with an accuracy of 20 m. In addition, the Firefly lights can be wirelessly connected to other Bluetooth devices, such as seismic and ground-supported instruments.

IoT Automation is now active worldwide and has subsidiaries in Mongolia and Indonesia, says Mr Paine. “As a specialist for wireless sensor networks, our mission has been to develop and use the best technologies that the mining industry has been waiting for. With the customised connection solutions from LAPP, we have a reliable partner on our side who understands us and continues to support us on our growth course.”