L-3 digs into mining opportunity

Communications expertise finds new need to fill

On the surface, it might not seem as though the mining industry could provide much of a business opportunity for L-3 Communications Inc.

But once the New York-based company dug into it, officials found a potential $100 million a year in business.

And Vic Young, who has spent most of his career working on military communications systems, found himself with a new job — director of mine safety programs at L-3.

It all started when an L-3 employee pestered Young about whether any of the company’s wireless communications technologies worked underground.

“I blew it off, but he persisted,” Young said.

That was in 2006. By spring 2007, L-3 was besting 18 other bidders for a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) grant to develop a system that could provide voice and text communications and track miners’ locations underground.

L-3’s system uses commercial 900 MHz radios encased in ruggedized shells — the same ones L-3 uses for the military’s special forces radios.

“It is a rugged environment down there,” Young said.

L-3’s solution includes the radios and fixed mesh nodes — think underground cell towers. “They relay the signals,” he said. “If a bunch of these things go out, the [radio signal] will find another tower…to get out of the mine.”

Every 15 seconds, the devices look for the next closest node to connect to, Young said. The handheld radios serve as mini-nodes and can also help relay signals.

L-3 calls the system Accolade, and NIOSH and Pennsylvania have approved it for use in mines.

The approval comes as the mining industry faces a June 15 deadline that requires all mines in the United States to have a plan for implementing a wireless communications system.

The deadline is part of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006. That law was passed in the wake of a series of deadly mining accidents earlier that year.

With more than 600 mines in the United States working to comply with the MINER Act’s requirements, L-3 has dug into a new line of business.

“That is the driver right now,” Young said.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close
SEARCH
contracts DB

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Read More

  • Is SBA MIA on contractor fraud? Nick Wakeman

    Editor Nick Wakeman explores the puzzle of why SBA has been so silent on the latest contractor fraud scandal when it has been so quick to act in other cases. Read More

Webcasts

  • How Do You Support the Project Lifecycle?

    How do best-in-class project-based companies create and actively mature successful organizations? They find the right mix of people, processes and tools that enable them to effectively manage the project lifecycle. REGISTER for this webinar to hear how properly managing the cycle of capture, bid, accounting, execution, IPM and analysis will allow you to better manage your programs to stay on scope, schedule and budget. Learn More!

  • Sequestration, LPTA and the Top 100

    Join Washington Technology’s Editor-in-Chief Nick Wakeman as he analyzes the annual Top 100 list and reveals critical insights into how market trends have impacted its composition. You'll learn what movements of individual companies means and how the market overall is being impacted by the current budget environment, how the Top 100 rankings reflect the major trends in the market today and how the biggest companies in the market are adapting to today’s competitive environment. Learn More!