High-security switches

Published:  08 June, 2007

Wedron Silica, a subsidiary of Fairmount Mineral has chosen Westermo's high-security Lynx switches for harsh industrial environments to develop a full Ethernet redundancy ring that monitors and controls the entire mining plant.

Fairmount Minerals is one of the largest producers of industrial sand in the United States. A total of 60 people manage the production of approximately 10,000 tons of sand each day. The biggest application segment is the fracturing sand market. Hydraulic fracturing sands, known as 'frac sands", consist almost entirely of quartz or silica sands and are used as proppants in oil and gas wells. Frac sand treatment is the forcing of a concoction of frac sands, viscous gel, and other chemicals down a well to prop open fractures in the subsurface rocks thus creating a passageway for fluid from the reservoir to the well. 

The Wedron Silica plant operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All production is managed through an Ethernet network. This involves hydraulic high pressure mining canons, cameras linked to the control centre with fibre-optics that help to control and adjust truck loading, and the sand drying rooms. Data monitoring and control systems need to be of the highest reliability levels, specifically in such a harsh environment as mining.

The ring portion of the network consists of eleven of the Lynx 1400-series switches with a further six Lynx 400-series switches on branch runs. The ring switches are located in the plant process buildings and are named for their location. All are mounted in dust tight boxes and powered buy two 24vdc power supplies that are connected to a battery backup. The ring network is kept powered for over two hours in the event of a power outage. All of the control and monitoring information is on Westermo’s network.

Westermo’s Lynx 1400 and Lynx 400 support IMGP protocol (Internet Group Management Protocol), which provides filtering techniques to control the flow of data around the ring in such a way as to optimise the bandwidth, and furthermore, to secure the network operation. IGMP is used by IP hosts to dynamically register membership in Multicast groups to the closest multicast router. Multicast routers periodically send out a "Host Membership Query message” to remain updated on group membership for the local network. In order to efficiently use the bandwidth and cut down on traffic, multicasting is the ideal solution. When data needs to be sent to a large amount of users on the network, the data will be sent simultaneously to the specified users via multicasting, and not just blanketed to all users.

For further information please visit: www.westermo.co.uk

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