Gerardo Gardea
Director General
Delta Solutions
View from the Top

Liberated Frequencies Will Spur Comms Investment

Mon, 10/22/2018 - 14:21

Q: How has Delta Solutions’ business in the mining industry evolved over its 30 years of experience?
A: When we first started working with the mining industry, radiocommunications were only used for voice systems and their use was limited. Today, IT departments within the industry are striving for digital radiocommunication that includes localization services, text messaging, alert and alarms transmission and equipment controls, as well as applications for equipment and control centers, among other features. Of the 100 percent of our radiocommunication sales, mining represents only 21 percent, but the sales volumes have grown consistently as there has been a lot of industrial development in Mexico, especially in Monterrey. Mining is a constant customer, as the harsh conditions of the industry require the continuous replacement of radios. We strive to take the best care of this industry and 2017 was a record-breaking year in sales for all our sectors. We took advantage of our 30-year anniversary to revolutionize the company and seek the ISO9001 certification for technology. We also focused on the training of our human talent on strategic planning.
Q: What is needed to achieve a unification of communications in the Mexican mining industry?
A: Radiocommunication systems are moving toward unified communications. This means we can provide equipment that allows cellphones calling a radio in an isolated mine. The investment to change to new systems is not high as the industry already has good networks and telecommunications infrastructure. It is necessary to centralize all the different communications into one system that can link them all together. We are working in a pilot program to raise the profile of unified communications in Mexico. We foresee a huge boom for this technology once the industry gets more acquainted with it and the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) passes the Secondary Law for the mining industry, liberating radio frequencies for the sector. This law will allow mines to increase their telecommunication investments, as the legal framework will better encompass and support them through specific mining frequencies. I think IFT is doing a great job adapting to the industry’s needs, as we used to be the only country in the world with no specific radio frequencies for each sector. Now this is a real priority since it will help create more competition, greater productivity and increase safety for those working in mines.
Q: What are the main technological trends shaping the future of mining communications?
A: Unified Communications is already being implemented by Torex Gold’s Media Luna Mine and the Los Filos mine owned by Leagold, in which we are also working to restructure its communication systems. Delta Solutions is also working with Goldcorp’s Peñasquito and Fresnillo’s Saucito mines. Besides the unification of communications for mine operations, there are other digitalization trends shaping the industry. The leaky feeder mine communications system operates as an underground mine antenna, with the ability to work on Wi-Fi. It reduces costs, it is easier to manage and it can host more devices at the same time. Delta Solutions already has the equipment to implement the leaky feeder wireless version and have started to successfully test it in Mexico.
Technological innovation moves at a faster rate than legal processes, as every six months changes in existing technologies emerge to improve and disrupt the industry. I think that IFT should have a specific department for technology studies, so there can be a direct communication with industry representatives to stay up-to-date with technological innovations. This will allow their timely incorporation to the legal framework, achieving better integration between both.
Q: How do you break miners’ apathy to new technologies?
A: I think the industry is now aware of the importance of technology and its benefits, so we must focus on adapting to companies’ budgets and investment programs, to help them migrate from analogous to digital systems without interfering in their operations. To overcome the remaining resistance to change, we strive to attend mining forums and events so we can better broadcast our technology.