Western Contracting sought a high-performance wireless network to enable Tele-remote operations of dozers and other land-moving equipment at Fort Wingate, a decommissioned military base in Gallup, New Mexico. Fluidmesh Networks, in partnership with MST and RCT, was able to deliver a next-generation Tele-remote system that allowed the project to be completed safely and efficiently.
Fort Wingate is a decommissioned military base previously used for explosive testing in Gallup, New Mexico. Western Contracting was awarded the reclamation work for the Fort in 2017. Western Contracting’s objective was to clear the fort of unexploded ordnance, thus making the land safe for future use. The work consisted of digging dirt and clearing large areas using 3 dozers and 3 excavators. Because of the inherent dangers in disturbing active ordnance, the work needed to commence using a Tele-remote system, which allows operators to drive equipment remotely from a safe distance. Australian autonomous solutions provider RCT was called in to deliver its Teleremote solution. The system delivered by RCT’s Utah office allowed for up to three pieces of heavy equipment to be operated simultaneously, what is known in the industry as having “three chairs.” A big challenge RCT, Western Contracting and Fort Wingate personnel faced was in delivering seamless and robust wireless connectivity to the vehicles operating over the Tele-remote system.
Tele-remote operations are a challenging application from a wireless communication stand point as they require low time latency, seamless roaming and substantial upload speed for the live video streaming from each excavator. In order for the operator to drive the excavator remotely, direct communication is required at all times. Given the size of the area and the very limited infrastructure available, wireless coverage had to be pervasive, typically using numerous repeater sites across the property. Furthermore, the material removed and other vehicles operating in the area can create line-of-sight challenges, an issue which typically causes dropped signals. Any signal degradation, even for ½ a second, typically halts Tele-remote operation.
MST reached out to Fluidmesh for a low-latency wireless network that could support the bandwidth and roaming requirements of the RCT Tele-remote system. By adopting an MPLS-based protocol, the Fluidmesh solution was able to exceed the network requirements and guarantee a 0-millsecond handoff time and less than 10 milliseconds of latency to all land clearing vehicles. The wireless connectivity is provided to the vehicles using a number of trailers spread across the property. In order to extend reliability even further, the Fluidmesh Wireless MPLS network also supports Vehicle-to-Vehicle mesh networking, thus allowing trucks to mesh together in case there is no clear signal back to an access point. Fluidmesh technology is used both for vehicle-to-trailer communication and for wireless backhaul service from the trailers to the main termination point in the network. The Fluidmesh radios onboard vehicles plugged directly into the RCT Tele-remote unit, guaranteeing a simple and easy installation.
Thanks to the teamwork of MST, RCT and Fluidmesh Networks, Western Contracting has been able to run its Tele-remote operations safely and efficiently and has been able to move the reclamation project forward ahead of schedule.
“We have been extremely impressed with the performance of the wireless network provided by Fluidmesh” says Neil Everist, President at Western Contracting. “We have been able to run our six dozers very efficiently, with minimal downtime. The support and responsiveness we have received from the Fluidmesh team has also been top notch.”
Andrew Sells, RCT Regional Manager adds “The wireless MPLS Network delivered by Fluidmesh performed extremely well with the RCT Tele-remote system. These can be some of the most complex projects in the world, especially when heavy equipment is automated and when the stakes for success are so high. We have been impressed with the latency and throughput the Fluidmesh system provides, even at long distance and in comparison with traditional WiFi Mesh solutions.”
“We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to partner with MST and RCT on this unique project to deliver successful Tele-remote operations to Western Contracting and Fort Wingate,” says Cosimo Malesci, Fluidmesh Co-Founder and EVP of Sales. “We are confident that this project has proved Fluidmesh’s wireless solution can be trusted in the most challenging environments, and it will be a touchstone for future customers in any industry where tele-remote operations can increase safety and efficiency.”