Axcess Micro-Wireless IDs Rolled out in West Virginia for Miner Safety

Axcess Micro-Wireless IDs Rolled out in West Virginia for Miner Safety

Axcess International, Inc., a leading provider of Micro-Wireless business activity management solutions, today announced the rollout of its long range Micro-Wireless IDs across an initial 30 West Virginia mines to enable mine operators to comply with the new safety regulations outlined in The Miner Act of 2006. The Axcess miner tagging solution is embedded into a complete Federal agency approved system provided by Tunnel Radio of America, Inc. The Bird DogTM system continuously tracks the locations of miners using Axcess’ robust wireless signals specially engineered for mines. The system will be demonstrated in Tunnel Radio’s booth (#4572) at next week’s MINExpo International 2008 trade show at the Las Vegas Convention Center from September 22 through 24.

Miner safety received nationwide attention following the Sego Mine disaster in West Virginia and prompted The Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 ( The Miner Act ) requiring miner safety improvements be implemented by mid-2009. The Act’s provisions require wireless two-way communications and an electronic tracking system be implemented to permit those on the surface to locate persons trapped underground.

The miner locating capability is based on Axcess’ Micro-Wireless IDs or tags that come in multiple form factors and can be carried by the miners in multiple ways including being attached to the miners’ helmets. The tags turn on automatically as miners enter the mine and provide regular identifying transmissions to small, low cost receivers throughout the mine system. Transmissions are provided in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved 315-433 MHz frequency band, and these transmissions are inherently more robust than Wi-Fi signals operating at 2.4 GHz from ID devices in mines.

“Bird Dog” communicates with the MineAx system to carry miner location signals to the surface. MineAx supports multiple modes of data transport including wireless readers via leaky feeder, Ethernet and hardwire. This provides for maximum flexibility in design as well as installation. In wireless mode, the tag readers can be located anywhere within the leaky feeder radio system coverage area thus providing customized coverage for each unique installation. The system has received the necessary Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the state of West Virginia approvals for operating in the West Virginia mines.

“Tunnel radio has a 20 year heritage in providing reliable industrial wireless solutions,” said Mark Rose, President and CEO of Tunnel Radio Inc. “By integrating the Axcess system alongside our backbone solution, we are able to deliver a complete system that complies with the miner safety mandate of the Miner Act and helps save lives.”

Both local and client server computer user interfaces allow tracking of individual workers and equipment throughout a mine facility. Tunnel Radio has developed a secure embedded wireless data network for the tracking component, allowing voice communications and tracking data to operate simultaneously along a single radio backbone in the mines, a first in the industry. System features include a round trip production calculator and supporting reports. The system automatically identifies miners moving in and out of the mine, providing a continuously updated manifest. Mine asset tracking is also provided.

“We’ve worked to provide complementary personnel tracking to Tunnel Radio’s systems for over a year,” said Allan Griebenow, President and CEO of Axcess International Inc. “Both a robust personnel tracking capability and a hardened communications backbone are needed to provide the proper solution. Helping to provide improved miner safety is a great use for our system.”

Micro-Wireless technology uses ultra-small, low cost reliable devices for the local transmission of information on assets, personnel and vehicles to provide an automatic, exception-based, labor-free way for identification, location determination, inventory accounting, security protection and condition status monitoring. The ability to optimize small form factor tags with all the necessary technical elements, including a reliable signal, the message information and enough signal power defines the wireless technology area called Micro-Wireless. Such solutions now encompass numerous applications, including automatic asset management, personnel and vehicle automatic access control, advanced workforce management and emergency evacuation accounting and wireless-based condition sensing. Other wireless technologies such as cell phones, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are not well suited to these solutions because of their cost, size and power consumption. Micro-Wireless transmissions occur in the 315-433 MHz UHF frequency band, are regulated by the FCC and do not require separate licensing.

Axcess’ unique Micro-Wireless implementation is based on a “dual-active” architectural design, where the wireless tags lie dormant until activated by a pre-programmed condition or by movement through a wireless activation field at a doorway or other control point. Alternatively, the tags can beacon at regular intervals for easy accounting. Axcess’ battery-powered (also called “active”) DotTM tags include bar codes and short range Electronic Product Code (EPC) RFID capability along with long range transmission capability of up to 1000 feet.

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