By Phil Thomas - New Era Systems, Inc.

Our mining clients demand constant reliable communication. Therefore when we sell them satellite equipment we choose the best quality, and most rugged parts that are available. Typically a manufacturer offers a minimum 12 month warranty, but in spite of this, we still harangue our clients to buy two of everything.

Our client’s installation is always in some remote rural location with poor access to the local airport, and so when a piece of equipment goes bad, it’s not an easy job to quickly get a replacement to the site.

Image courtesy of Steven Maguire (Eye of the Storm Photography)

This does not mean that satellite equipment is inherently unreliable, it just means that bad weather plus an unstable electrical power supply can cause early failures to the best of outdoor equipment.

With replacement equipment on the shelf at the mine, the site can be back on the air within an hour, but if we have to fly spare equipment to the site, the mines communication can be down for a week or more.

A satellite communication system only comprises a few components; the antenna, LNB, Modem, BUC and the cables.

Nothing happens to the antenna and so we don’t recommend two of them, but everything else should be duplicated at the outset. Curiously most failures are caused by the cables going bad. In more than one installation rats have been the chief culprit. In other cases the electronics have failed and need to be replaced promptly under warranty.

We keep shelf spares at our teleport in Florida and can often ship the same day, but delivery to Africa or South America normally takes DAYS, that’s why we twist arms about buying redundancy.

Phil Thomas

New Era Systems, Inc