What are Smart Cap Lamps?
These technologically advanced lamps have been designed to incorporate proximity and/or tracking tags through partnerships with 3rd-party solution providers. In addition to basic tracking functionality, these lamps are also capable of bi-directional communication, enabling evacuation warnings, lone worker alerts and other two-way communications. If the future of mining matters to you, understanding how Smart Lamps factor into mining innovations will be key.

NLT pioneered the concept of the “Smart Lamp” in 2012, with the introduction of Genesis, the world’s first cordless cap lamp to accommodate a built-in tracking tag. In 2018, NLT raised the bar yet again with the introduction of the semi-cordless Eagle and corded Falcon lamps, capable of accommodating not only a tracking tag but also a proximity awareness tag. What separates NLT’s Smart Lamps from the competition is our commitment to accommodating most of the tag options available in the marketplace. Other lamp manufacturers’ platforms are typically designed around a single 3rd-party solution provider’s tag. The platform is more than just a tag holder, however. Only advanced and specialized engineering development allows each tag to be integrated into the lamp.

NLT provides by far the largest selection of the smartest and most versatile cap lamps on the market today. We currently have partnerships with most of the world’s major tracking and proximity providers. Our 3rd-party partnerships include: AeroScout, Ambra LTE, AiRISTA Flow, Meglab-Imagine, Mobilaris, Newtrax, NLT Digital’s N-Connex and Strata. Ambra, in fact, is the first LTE cellular network providing tracking. And all of their lamps can be adapted to the uses described above. We also recently partnered with Mobilaris on the first bi-directional tracking solution, allowing a command center to flash the light on an individual cap lamp, or all cap lamps, in a mine and have the miner acknowledge receipt of the message. Of course, the lamps can be customized for multiple flashing sequences to indicate different messages.

These Smart Lamps also provide additional benefits for mines, such as ensuring workers are actually wearing their tags (especially important with proximity), providing rechargeable (and not costly replaceable) batteries, allowing miners to charge all elements uniformly on one charger, and making miners always accessible to management, which is critical in the event of an emergency.

Recently, NLT has seen a significant increase in mines installing new tracking solutions as well as upgrading their systems with new technologies like LTE. To learn more about the rise of tracking technologies, read our blog: Three Factors Driving the Increase in Mine Tracking

Innovation & Continual Improvement
NLT is constantly striving to improve the quality and performance of our lamps. Since its introduction in 2012, through improvements in gasket material and design as well as the application of a marine grade sealant, we have improved Genesis’ initial IP 67 rating (water/dust resistance/waterproofing), to a level that now exceeds IP68 rating. To improve the lamp’s light output, we are currently in the process of upgrading our batteries from 2.6mA to 3.2mA. Combined with advancements in LED technology, we’ve been able to increase the LUX output by almost 50%.

NLT has been a leader in cap lamp innovation since its founding in 1984. We have a long list of firsts, including introducing the first dry-cell battery with intelligent charging technology in a cap lamp and the first MSHA-approved cordless cap lamp with a single lithium-ion battery.

A Global Trend
Increasing operational costs are forcing mines to improve efficiencies through the introduction of technologies such as tracking and proximity awareness solutions. These technologies are only effective if used properly. NLT Smart Cap Lamps help mines get the most out of these technologies by ensuring their workers have the solution provider’s tags with them at all times. As a result NLT’s Smart lamps are in use around the world. All of the Nutrien potash mines, formally PCS, use Genesis. Some are transitioning to NLT’s Eagle to incorporate not only tracking but also proximity. Agnico Eagle’s mines are using NLT’s Eagle lamp to accommodate tracking and proximity tags from a number of different solutions providers. Boliden’s Tara mine in Ireland has been using Genesis for years and is now upgrading their Mobilaris tracking tags to the bi-directional tag. All of Cargill Salt’s mines use Genesis with AeroScout tags. To date, we have sold over 10,000 Genesis lamps. Feedback from mines using the lamps has been unanimously positive. With less than 1% warrantee repairs, mine operators and miners know that they can rely on NLT’s lamps

Into the Future
As technologies advance, and new technologies are introduced, Smart Lamps will only get smarter. The tracking and proximity tags are getting progressively more stable, reliable and offering more features. In sync with these innovations, NLT is ready to incorporate them into our Eagle, Genesis and Falcon cap lamps. We provide two cavities of specific dimensions that will accommodate a tag and collaborate with the providers to customize it for each product. The proximity feature of Smart Cap Lamps will be particularly key when autonomous equipment becomes more broadly adopted.

We have new technology coming out in 2021, and we are consistently looking for new ways to make our lamps lighter, smaller, brighter and more cost-effective. To learn more about NLT’s Smart Cap Lamps, contact Rich Humber at 416-886-9774 or rhumber@nltinc.com.