Rio Tinto restructures iron ore telecoms

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Rio Tinto restructures iron ore telecoms

Creates new business unit and NOC.

Rio Tinto has created a new ‘production telecommunications’ business unit and industrial network operations centre for its iron ore division.

The restructure, which has been in planning since at least last year, sees the creation of a function with “end-to-end accountability for iron ore’s industrial networks and associated technologies”, according to a series of job advertisements.

The miner is recruiting for a strategy and technical lead for the new business unit, as well as a transmission design specialist.

The unit has been given a remit to “provide analysis, design, standardisation and ongoing optimisation of iron ore’s telecommunications network”.

It is tasked with providing "telecommunications thought leadership … with a focus on ‘what is technically possible’", and defining new projects for costing purposes.

In addition, the new business unit will tackle resolution of “highly complex escalated prioritised incidents”, via a new “industrial network operations centre”.

Advertisements confirm this new industrial telecommunications NOC is being co-located with the existing Rio Tinto remote operations centre at Perth airport.

It appears the new business unit takes over infrastructure and communications functions that were previously under the remit of iron ore’s office of the CIO.

Staff that had been running transformation projects and strategy for infrastructure and communications ended their roles in November 2015 and March 2016 respectively.

The timing of the latter departure coincides with advertisements for a similar strategy overseer for the new telecommunications business unit.

A Rio Tinto spokesperson has been contacted for confirmation and additional comment.

Telecommunications has been an active area for transformation over the past several years at Rio Tinto.

The miner has rolled out a private 4G LTE network; created a Pilbara-wide DWDM backbone for mine, rail and port facilities; and standardised the fibre infrastructure for entertainment services provided in 18 residential towns and villages in the Pilbara.

Last week, Rio Tinto talked up the LTE portion of the network at a critical communications congress in Amsterdam.

Several M2M – or what could now potentially be branded IoT – applications were revealed, including for asset health and dewatering telemetry. Dewatering is used to lower the water table around a mine before extracting resources.

The miner also revealed it had eschewed fixed base stations for remote sites in favour of hybrid power cell on wheels that can be moved within sites to satisfy “ever changing coverage footprint” requirements.

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