5G Empowers Intelligent Mining for High-quality Development of Shaanxi Coal Caojiatan Mining


In terms of the intelligent construction of mines, Caojiatan Mining (Shaanxi Coal Group, Caojiatan Mining Co., Ltd.) has always been in the forefront of the industry. As a large-scale demonstration project unit developed in accordance with the national coal industry's 12th Five-Year Plan, the company is successively rated by the China Coal Industry Association and the Quality Supervision Center of Construction Projects in Shaanxi Coal Industry as an excellent coal industrial integration project and a high-quality engineering unit of the coal industry. Adhering to its innovative spirit of taking the lead and pursuing excellence, Caojiatan Mining actively responds to the call for intelligent construction of coal mines, and works with China Unicom Shaanxi Branch, Shaanxi ZHIN Technology and ZTE to carry out in-depth cooperation. It adopts ZTE’s 5G iCube cloud network integration solution to jointly construct the 5G intelligent mine communication system and explore the intelligent path of mines. 

Massive data is a new challenge faced by the mine industrial network

Traditional mines mainly use 4G cellular network, Wi-Fi and other wireless communication technologies. Due to complex working environment, limited underground space, dusty environment and frequent movement of large equipment, long data transmission latency and damage to optical cables often occur during the work, seriously threatening safe production. With the development of intelligent mine construction, a large number of existing and new cameras, sensors, and controllers all need network access. Network coverage and bandwidth are required to meet the requirements of mass equipment and HD video backhaul, and low latency is required to meet the production control requirements of underground equipment. Therefore, the mining industry network is facing severe challenges. Traditional wireless communication technologies cannot meet the evolution requirements of intelligent mines, and are in urgent need of new generation of wireless technologies such as 5G. 

Take the leading to build a digital base for mines by leveraging the 5G iCube solution

To further improve the level of mine intelligence, Caojiatan Mining adopts ZTE’s 5G iCube cloud network integration solution and works together with ZTE to build a digital base for the mine, taking actual problems as the starting point. The core highlights of this solution include the integration of 5G high-bandwidth low-latency communication capability and the powerful computing capability of private cloud-end servers to connect underground links, cloud-end links, and overhead links, and integrate all underground services into a unified framework of communication, computing, and management and control. 

In the underground, a large number of 5G communication modules are deployed to provide functional modules such as data access, voice, HD video, unified dispatching and personnel positioning for the systems in the whole mining area. In the cloud, the iCube cloud network cabinet is deployed in the central equipment room, the unified cloud digital base is built, and the dedicated 4G/5G integrated core network, dedicated VoNR/VoLTE IMS core network and 3-in-1 integrated NM system (UME R88) and other basic services are deployed. Above the ground, through the control center, data system, and application center, data can be managed visually. The architecture of the 5G iCube cloud network integration solution is shown in Figure 1.  

Figure 1 Network Architecture of Caojiatan 5G Mine Private Network

Moreover, the 5G icube cloud-network solution used by Caojiatan has been fully upgraded from the following five dimensions: 

  • Integrated digital base to implement one-network management and control: The system is successfully interconnected with the existing 4G base stations, completing integrated transformation of the 4G/5G networks in the mining area, realizing the 4G/5G terminals with the same card number, seamless coverage and lossless switching, and providing a feasible solution for the reuse and evolution of the existing network in other mining areas. It integrates VoLTE/VoNR voice capability and provides real-time voice, and fixed telephone for terminals such as 4G/5G mobile phone, single personnel equipment and terminals. The system also supports HD video functions, supplementary services and value-added services such as CTX groups, call forwarding, and call transfer in mining areas, and voice interworking between private network and public network.
  • The wireless adopts the MOCN solution to achieve seamless connection between the public network and the private network: When the 5G public users access the 5G base station, they access the public 5GC of China Unicom according to the PLMN1 network number, and normally use the public network data, voice and SMS services. The 5G private users or 4G & 5G integrated private users access the i5GC in the mining area according to the PLMN2, and they are distributed to the mining area to use the voice and data services of the intranet in the mining area for interconnection with the mining application server. 
  • End-to-end mechanism to guarantee the security and reliability of the services:  Based on the resources reserved for wireless PRB and dynamic resource sharing, the system provides the security guarantee for the high-priority services in the mine. The 5G independent private network of the mine is fully deployed to the edge of the mine area. Even if the network between the mine area and the public network breaks down, the services in the mine area are not affected. The independent 100,000M bearer ring network is physically isolated from public network, and the optical cable failure outside the mine area does not affect private network. 
  • Interconnection with the third-party dispatching system to enrich the mine service ecosystem. iCube and the dispatching system successfully interwork with each other. The iCube system verifies the basic audio/video call, holding, proxy, forced insertion and forced release services, effectively integrates the communication resources, achieves cooperative control and accurate dispatching, and improves work efficiency. 
  • The 3-in-1 management of the system helps to facilitate the operation and maintenance of private network more efficiently: The UME R88 integrated equipment includes the unified management of core network, wireless network and bearing network and reduces the operation and maintenance complexity. It is interconnected with the unified management and control platform of the mining area. According to the data statistics, it can save the human cost of maintaining communication equipment by more than 20% annually. 

By relying on the 5G digital communication base, Caojiatan Mining has successfully completed intelligent innovation systems such as smart grid maintenance, smart tape detection, automatic drainage control, smart frequency conversion wind supply, and smart auxiliary transportation. All systems operate in good condition. 

Comprehensive upgrade assists in the high-quality development of the mine

The successful implementation of the "5G iCube cloud network integration solution" in Caojiatan Mining marks the first integrated deployment of cloud, network, application and maintenance in the industry, which lays the foundation for the continuous intelligent upgrade and reconstruction of the mining area and sets an example for the intelligent construction of other mining areas in China.

Caojiatan Mining always adheres to the innovative development concept, continuously increases the construction of smart mines, promotes the profound change in the production mode of "intelligent, real-time, less-manned, and unmanned," and provides core technical support for intelligent mining of coal resources, intelligent transportation, safe and independent guarantee, and intelligent operation management. Intelligent manufacturing leads the future. ZTE will work with multiple parties to promote the implementation of "5G iCube cloud network integration solution" in more mining areas and to facilitate the national intelligent construction and high-quality development of coal mines.