For other industries, 5G Network technology is the icing on the cake, and for the coal mining industry, 5G technology is to deliver charcoal in the snow. Only it can meet the large bandwidth, real-time and reliability requirements of smart coal mines, liberate people, and reduce people underground. Nobody, the hardest problem is left to 5G.
5G Network, With the friction of the ropes of the cable car slowly descending from the ground to 100 meters, 200 meters, 300 meters below the mine…narrow, closed, dark, wet…the unknown darkness gradually makes people feel terrified. Going down the cable car, there is still some distance from the mining face. The miner’s lamp above his head shone on the back of the previous miner, and the reflective strips on his clothes gave off a cold, dazzling white light.
The coal mining industry has a history of more than a thousand years. The objects on the ground are changing for the stars, but the mine still has to face an extremely difficult and dangerous working environment. According to data released by relevant departments, from 2011 to 2020, the number of deaths from coal mine accidents across the country reached 7,733.
With the advancement of technology, the initial simple manual mining has developed into mechanized mining. But hundreds of meters deep underground is like a tiny “dungeon”, with staggered roadways and complicated environment. Instruments and equipment can neither be automated on-site nor controlled remotely, and can only rely on on-site operations by miners. Can coal mines be intelligent, towards fewer people and unmanned people? 5G is bringing hope to all these changes.
”The hardest problem is left to 5G”Ren Zhengfei went to Shanxi to dig coal
This hot search at the end of last year surprised some people and some people smiled, but it did not affect the determination of the president himself. The day after leaving the coal mine, he turned around and appeared in the iron mine in Hunan.
For this low-key founder, he showed a rare high-profile in the matter of “Huawei is in the mine”. Like many communication technology companies, he is fancying the revolutionary changes that 5G Network may bring to coal mines and the huge opportunities behind them. “China has more than 5,300 coal mines and more than 2,700 metal mines. If these more than 8,000 mines can be completed, we may be able to provide services to mines all over the world.”
As the main part of my country’s primary energy, coal energy production accounts for more than 70%, and the annual mining volume is about 3.5 billion tons, and about 85% comes from underground mining.
”From the 1970s to the present, my country’s coal mines have gone through the development process from mechanization to automation to the current early stage of intelligentization. In this process, the role of information technology is indispensable.” Chief of Changzhou Research Institute of China Coal Science and Industry Group Expert Huo Zhenlong said that information technology has greatly reduced the occurrence of coal mine safety accidents and improved the overall efficiency of coal mine work.
But in the depths of the mine a few hundred meters below, people still inevitably encounter dangerous narrow roads. For Sun Jiping, director of the Institute of Information Engineering, China University of Mining and Technology (Beijing), this “danger” is very concrete. As the leader of the State Council’s safety production accident investigation expert group, he has been to the scene of coal mine accidents a dozen times since 2004, all due to explosions and fires. 108, 105…at least 30. He clearly remembers the number of victims in those accidents.
On the one hand, the greater the number of underground operations, the greater the number of deaths in the same accident. On the other hand, people are the most insecure factor. Fluctuations in technology, mood, and sense of responsibility may cause violations. The more people underground, The higher the probability of an accident.
If we want to reduce the number of dead people, we need to reduce the number of people underground. The truth is not difficult, but the realization is extremely difficult.
If we want to withdraw people, we must first connect people to people, people to machines, and machines to machines. This process involves the access of a large number of devices, the transmission of massive amounts of data, and the remote control with sufficiently low latency, which places unprecedented stringent requirements on the quality and capability of network transmission.
Although the signal is stable in the traditional wired transmission method, the underground terrain is complicated and the equipment is numerous, which causes great difficulties in wiring. Moreover, the facility moves from time to time, where there is coal, and the cables are folded and easily broken, but the data transmission cannot be interrupted.
For many years, there are usually only fixed telephones located one or two hundred meters apart in the mines. People lose contact when they get out of the mine. If the sky collapses on the ground, no one can be notified. Sun Jiping gave an example. The electric fitter went down to repair the accident at point A. Even if point B was 50 meters away, he could not notify him at the same time, so he could only send another person, which was a waste of time and manpower.
Take 10,000 steps back, even if the problems of wiring difficulties and weak signal anti-interference ability are solved, the transmission delay is still a hurdle that the mine “unmanned” cannot pass.
A few hundred meters underground, when the shearer hits a rock, the shearer driver will adjust the height of the cutting drum. However, in the remote control scenario, the shearer will continue because of the signal transmission delay and ground instructions cannot be transmitted in the first time.” Hard hit hard”, causing wear and tear of large-scale equipment.
”The coal mining industry cannot be absent, and it cannot always be like this.” said Peng Qiming, president of the China Mining Association. Coal has always been the main force in my country’s energy supply. The coal mining industry is difficult to replace, but it must be transformed and upgraded and replaced with modern technology and equipment. The traditional working mode uses intelligence to realize unattended, unattended inspection, and staff reduction.
In the words of Sun Jiping, a coal mine informatization veteran, for other industries, 5G technology is the icing on the cake, and for the coal mining industry, 5G technology is the icing on the cake. Only it can meet the large bandwidth, real-time and reliability requirements of smart coal mines. People are liberated, and people will be reduced until there are no people in the mine. The most difficult problem is left to 5G.
The first 5G Network coal mine
”I am in the underground electromechanical chamber. The signal is very good and the equipment is running normally.”
Shouyang County, Jinzhong City, Shanxi Province. Xi Shubo, a technician of the comprehensive mining team of Lu’an Chemical Xinyuan Company, is video-connecting with the dispatch center on a 534-meter coal mining surface. In the small screen, the inspection robot flexibly collects and returns 360-degree audio and video by his side.
This kind of scene that can be seen every day today was unthinkable a few years ago.
With the joint efforts of Yangmei Group, China Mobile, and Huawei, on June 18, 2019, Yangmei Group Xinyuan Coal Mine became the first 5G Network coal mine in the country. 147 5G Network base stations are deployed here, and there is the deepest 5G Network in the world. People in the well can make phone calls and videos anytime and anywhere. The real-time signal travels between the rocks at a depth of 500 meters with a negligible delay.
In September 2019, Xinyuan Coal Mine’s underground 5G network began research and development.
In November, the first 5G call was made underground.
Qiao Hongbo, director of the Party and Mass Department of Lu’an Chemical Xinyuan Company, said that nowadays, after the underground equipment fails, video calls can even be made directly to equipment vendors far away in Beijing, asking someone to “remote diagnosis”, and it will be repaired and production resumed soon. Under the same circumstances, work may have been shut down for a few days before.
With the blessing of the 5G network, the work of fixed positions such as underground water pump rooms, central substations, and basic electrical chambers has gradually been replaced by cameras, sensors, etc. The data is returned in real time, and “blue-collar” miners become “white-collar.” , Controlled remotely in the dispatch center of Chuangmingjijing, and let the hazard be removed from the shoulders.
Sun Jiping said that there are no technical obstacles to the reduction of fixed positions in underground mines. If all three million coal miners across the country can realize the mechanization and intelligent replacement of fixed positions, about one-third of them can say goodbye to the mine.
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From manned posts to unmanned posts, the number of people working underground in Xinyuan Coal Mine has been reduced by more than 300.
In the staggered underground roadway, a large number of mechanical equipment such as roadheaders, coal shearers, belt conveyors, hydraulic supports, etc. are conscientiously engaged in mining, transportation, production assistance and other operations. The operation data is transmitted to the dispatch center in real time. .
The human response time is 200 milliseconds, while under 5G network, the delay of the underground picture to the ground is only 20 milliseconds. In Xinyuan Coal Mine, every piece of equipment with “one end (heading head), one side (coal surface) and one chamber (mechanical and electrical chamber)” can be “ordered and prohibited”. After the operator on the ground gives instructions, the underground equipment hears Let’s move, remote real-time control becomes a reality.
”Lalang Matching” of Mining and Communication
Informatization is so promising, it is logical for all parties to bet.
In April this year, Huawei established the “Coal Army”. In the eyes of the outside world, this organization is fast, mysterious and advanced. According to Ren Zhengfei’s public explanation, the Legion model is to gather basic research scientists, technical experts, and sales experts into one department. Coal is the first field where Huawei has adopted the Legion model.
The idea of ”binding” the strongest communication technology with the ancient coal mines has been revolving in Sun Jiping since 2016. However, with the technical conditions at the time, from Wi-Fi networks, wired networks to industrial Ethernet, they were unable to meet the bandwidth, delay, and reliability requirements of remote monitoring.
The change occurred in 2018. Sun Jiping came to Yangmei Group with the high-tech enterprise activity organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Coal Association. More than 20 experts sat together to discuss the way out for the coal industry.
Reducing people is the direction and consensus. But if you want to hand over the work left by people to the machine, real-time communication is a problem that cannot be circumvented. “Life is a matter of life, you can’t watch the footage from the underground a few minutes ago on the ground.” Sun Jiping said.
At that time, it was more than a year before 5G Network commercialization, but the high-bandwidth, low-latency, and highly reliable 5G network brought hope to remote control.
In the presence of Zhai Hong, chairman of Huayang Group, which is affiliated with Xinyuan Coal Mine, Sun Jiping proposed 5G downhole.
In 5G Network downhole, we must first solve the problem of equipment explosion-proof, and at the same time “make a dojo in a snail shell”, and try to make the base station as small as possible under the premise of ensuring the function. Before the official start of the project, Huawei formed a team of more than 200 people and established a 5G Network Yangmei commando team to develop related technologies. All underground equipment must meet explosion-proof requirements and need to be “tailor-made.”
To this end, the three parties jointly established the Xinyuan “5G+Smart Mine” innovation laboratory and successfully developed the first mining 5G Network base station. The PTN ring network in the underground is equivalent to the 5G network capacity of half a county.
Interlaced is like a mountain. In the words of He Manchao, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and professor of China University of Mining and Technology (Beijing), the first step in the intelligentization of coal mines is “combination”, which is a combination of mining technology and information technology, and also of researchers in the two fields. Lalang match”.
In this regard, Ji Jie, director of the 5G+ Intelligent Mine Construction Office of Xinyuan Company, has a real feeling: Those who understand 5G Network are not familiar with the operation requirements of coal mines, and those who understand coal mines do not understand 5G technology. The result was a round of fierce confrontation of views, one after another downhole to tackle key problems all night, joy and disappointment repeated again and again. Everyone is fighting in excitement and exhaustion.
On December 7, 2020, Ren Zhengfei came here.
In the general dispatch room of Xinyuan Coal Mine, he carefully watched the 5G technology application demonstration, listened to the introduction, put on work clothes, put on a safety helmet, and spent an hour or two to reach the underground mine. In a roadway several meters wide, he held a miner’s lamp and watched as he walked. The roadheader at 31004 fully mechanized mining face and the sensor in the No. 9 central power distribution room were visible and tangible with 5G Network.
When meeting with Lou Yangsheng, Secretary of the Shanxi Provincial Party Committee, he proposed that Huawei is willing to jointly establish a “Coal Mine Artificial Intelligence Innovation Laboratory” with Shanxi to help the coal industry carry out digital and intelligent transformation through the combination of ICT technology and coal mining technology. The production model of “safety, few people and no one, and high efficiency” also allows coal miners to “wear a suit and tie” in future work.
On February 9 this year, his wishes came to fruition, and Ren Zhengfei went to Shanxi again in person. The “Smart Mine Innovation Laboratory” jointly established by Huawei, Jinneng Holding Group Co., Ltd. and Shanxi Cloud Times Technology Co., Ltd. was unveiled in Taiyuan.
From “model room” to “commercial house”
After becoming a “model room”, thousands of colleagues came to Xinyuan Coal Mine to learn from their experience.
The 5G Network application here is not a beautiful doll in the window, but a real “new toolbox” from Liu Liehong, the deputy minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
”5G Network can solve too many problems. It can accurately and clearly obtain underground safe production data and environmental video, realize underground and underground high-definition audio and video calls, rapid transmission of various data, and remote intelligent control of equipment.” The person in charge of a mining company Say, “In this era, we cannot be left behind.”
The major coal provinces have taken action one after another.
Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Inner Mongolia… Up to now, more than 400 intelligent coal mining faces have been built across the country. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology stated that it will continue to promote the “5G Network + Industrial Internet” innovation and breakthroughs in the mining industry, and accelerate the replication and promotion from “model rooms” to “commercial housing.”
Liu Liehong once said at the “5G Network+Industrial Internet” field work conference in the mining industry that the development of new infrastructure has given us a new toolbox. If we had a batch of workboxes, now 5G has come, and it has actually given us a new toolbox. Using heavy tools, just like Guan Gong can’t live without a big knife, Zhang Fei can’t live without a spear, and he must quickly use 5G as a tool to advance the process of industry digitization and intelligence.
But if people want to withdraw, technology has to move forward. Huo Zhenlong listed them one by one, such as the development of coverage equipment and low-power modules that meet the intrinsic safety requirements of coal mines. He suggested that appropriate policy guidance should be carried out. According to the characteristics of underground coal mines, domestic communication product research institutions and manufacturers are encouraged to further develop 5G systems. The research and development and improvement, and focus on joint research on the impact of radio frequency power on coal mine safety, to ensure that the largest wireless coverage is achieved within a limited safe power range.
Cost is also an issue that has been talked about by coincidence. “Currently the cost is still high.” Huo Zhenlong said, “I hope that 5G products can be designed to meet the characteristics and needs of coal mines, and at the same time, to explore more applications around the intelligent construction of coal mines. I believe that the application of 5G in coal mines will become more and more common.”
In the past, the coal mines in Shanxi were like the “Daya Bay” where Sun Shaoping worked in Lu Yao’s writings. The working surface was black and the roars were rumbling. He could only see clearly his eyes and mouth, and was called a “soot”. What’s more frightening is the danger. “No bloody coal or bloody GDP” has been called for by the whole country for many years.
Today, the most intelligent coal mines in China are basically free of coal dust on the ground and no pulverized coal in the air. “The Huawei technicians we are cooperating with come from the south, and they all think our mines are particularly clean.” Ji Jie said, “It’s still more difficult now, but it can’t be said to be high-risk. With the upgrading of technology, the future of coal mines must be safe, efficient, and green. ,intelligent.”