Use cases with SENSECOM IoT devices

Select an area of interest for more detailed information on the use case and type of device used for remote monitoring, readings or diagnostics.

Measurement of groundwater levels in the vicinity of lignite opencast mines

Remote monitoring with SENSECOM-HP series

Case
Groundwater levels are monitored throughout the vicinity of opencast mines in order to avert early risks of landslides, drainage around the mine or, conversely, to prevent flooding. 
 
How this was done in the past
Until recently, expert teams of hydrogeologists relied on capital- and operationally expensive electronic measurements at selected critical locations. At dozens of other sites, they went out to take manual readings of water levels, often in hard-to-reach locations. Automated systems required having a house built around the well with measuring equipment. Batteries had to be changed every 2 months, and once in a while the data collected on site had to be read-out. Electronic metering had to be provided, at least temporarily, during pumping tests.
 
What it looks like today
The situation at the North Bohemian mines has started to change since 2018 and today they have over 200 boreholes with daily data on rock level or pore pressure in two mining areas and a third one in the research. With the SENSECOM-HP series, several problems have been solved at once: 
  • the devices are low-power and consume battery power only when measuring and transmitting, in a very energy-efficient way.
  • they communicate over a nation wide IoT network of LPWAN (supporting these low energy devices). Signal availability was 99% of the installed sites. 
  • A small 3.6V lithium battery, size C monocell, is sufficient to operate them for at least 5 years
  • the device is capable of working with accurate and reliable vibrating wave (VW) type pressure transducers even with a battery of this size.
  • Due to the low power consumption, the dimensions of the device are very small, the casing fits into a standard wellhead. 
 
Conclusion
The Severočeské doly a.s. (North Bohemian mines, Inc.) now have a virtually on-line overview of groundwater levels and trends, which was not an option until recently, at a very favourable investment and operating costs. Most importantly, the costs are orders of magnitude higher, which are saved by early action when unrecognised changes in the geological bedrock are identified.
 
Use in different sectors
The SENSECOM-HP series is equally well suited for applications outside hydrogeology, e.g. in the construction industry (bridges, dams, tall buildings), where sensors using the same vibrating string (VW) principle are applied for accurate measurements of joint opening, expansion and tilting.

Landslide detection of gold mines tailing dams

Remote monitoring with SENSECOM-AC series

Case
 
There are many examples of cascade dam failures in gold mines. These have resulted in the release of toxic mine waste into the surrounding area or the disastrous consequences of flooding villages and towns below the dams. The early detection of landslides on tailings dams is critical.
 
As was done in the past
Until recently, one effective method used to shift the soil on a gold mine dam in South Africa was one in which poles were driven into the ground on either side of the access road below the dam and the distance between them was monitored daily with a tape measure. In this way, a number of pairs of poles were placed along each cascade dam. Daily manual monitoring was labor, time, and record keeping intensive. Measurement accuracy was limited and soil movement may not have been detected in a timely manner; measurements were limited to the lower portion of the dam. The risk of not detecting the breached dam and its breaching was still high.
 
As it stands today
Today, these gold mines use SENSECOM-ACH tiltmeters, which are attached to rods embedded in the soil, positioned at different levels in the alluvial dam area, to detect landslides on the dams of the cascade tailings ponds. An eventual landslide will cause a change in the tilt of the rod. Even with a minimal change in angle of 1°, the device detects the change in tilt and sends an alarm immediately. The device is energy-efficient, so even with a small battery it can run for several years without its replacement. 
 
Conclusion
At the gold mines in South Africa, at a relatively low investment cost, they have a solution that not only saves significant operating costs, but more importantly, allows them to detect one of the potential key signs of a dam breach more reliably and much earlier than before. This will enable early action to be taken against a breach or rupture of the dam, which would otherwise result in the release of toxic substances or catastrophic flooding of the area below the dam.
 
Use of the equipment in other areas
SENSECOM-AC series devices are used in many other areas, e.g. detection of changes in the inclination of high voltage pylons, high-rise buildings and structures, rock bodies, etc. Devices of a similar nature SENSECOM-NFQ are used to detect the frequency of natural vibrations of structures, typically bridges, where their change indicates a disturbance in their stiffness.