Ampcontrol AWARE IIoT – Gaining Water Insights

Ampcontrol AWARE IIoT provides operational insights into your water and waste water monitoring applications.

Our new IIoT offering, Ampcontrol AWARE, is a flexible, scalable and cost effective solution for water monitoring and control applications.

Ampcontrol AWARE provides simple access to valuable data, irrespective of location, number of monitoring points or application without the complexity and cost associated with traditional PLC/RTU/SCADA methodology.

Interested in finding out more about Ampcontrol AWARE and IIoT? We’ll be launching this innovative solution at OzWater 16 – 18 May, at the Sydney International Convention Centre, we’ll be on stand D33.

Want to know more but are unable to make OzWater? Contact Customer Service on 1300 267 373 or email

Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing

Ampcontrol are proudly leading the way for advanced engineering and manufacturing practices to deliver better operational outcomes for industries across the world.

This month our achievements are featured by the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council – read more about our progress.

A Fresh Look at Earth Continuity, Safety and AS/NZS2081 Compliance

AS/NZS2081 and AS/NZS4871 present competing requirements for the application of earth continuity protection in earth fault limited mining systems. AS/NZS2081 requires that earth continuity protection be capable of operating within 100ms to quickly protect an outlet in case of live uncoupling. Meanwhile, both AS/NZS2081 and AS/NZS4871 require that the earth continuity protection should also be capable of monitoring incremental changes in the resistance of the earth return path to ensure that leakage currents do not result in dangerous touch potentials. It is sometimes not possible to achieve a practical earth continuity protection system that satisfies both of these requirements, if static time and trip settings are used.

We’ve developed a new method of earth continuity protection that utilises a ‘trip curve’ to discriminate between earth disconnection faults and incremental increases in the earth return impedance that occurs due to equipment degradation. Using this method it is possible to provide an “instantaneous” trip for energised uncoupling of cables that significantly reduces the chance of an arcing fault or exposure to live terminals. For gradual increases in the impedance of the earth return path, a time delay is introduced to allow discrimination between noise induced onto the cable’s pilot-earth loop, and an actual increase in loop impedance.

Take a fresh at earth continuity, safety and AS/NZS2081 in this downloadable PDF or watch the below presentation.

Find out more about Ampcontrol’s earth continuity relays. 

Moly-Cop 15MVA Furnace Transformer

Following the short circuit failure of one of their two specialist furnace transformers, Moly-Cop urgently required the installation of a replacement. It was decided that an existing spare transformer that had been in storage for 15 years could be modified to suit the special requirements of the furnace.


  • Reworking the external bus bar arrangement and fitting a new off circuit tap changer and HV cable box
  • Transformer overhaul, including installation and commissioning of the transformer in a very short timeframe, reducing disruption to site production
  • Engagement with site personnel to coordinate the multi-discipline site installation requirements


After initial inspection a detailed work schedule and execution plan was established and agreed with onsite personnel to match the site specific production initiatives.

Given the age of the transformer and the time it had been in storage it was in need of major repair and upgrading to meet the demands of the critical role it has in production.

Modifications and upgrades included the following:

  • Replacement of compound cable box with new plug in type to suit site cabling
  • Modification of the transformer design to suit an off circuit tap switch including removing the existing on load tap changer which was not fit for service repair.
  • Redesign and accommodation of a pumped water cooler sourced from a separate on-site transformer.
  • Design and manufacture of external busbar system to configure the correct vector connection and couple it to existing site bus-work
  • Inspection and processing of the core and coils together with the supply of new transformer oil
  • Refurbishment of the existing conservator and pipework
  • Reconfiguration of a new control box, wiring and auxiliary protection devices.

The busbar design required significant engineering to ensure the weight of the busbar was supported and to minimise stress on the transformer bushings. Flexible connections were manufactured from copper sheet punched and formed to individually align with the multiple bushings of the transformer.  This high current externally connected structure required support both at the top and bottom with the bottom supports designed to accommodate for uneven floor and alignment to the existing busbar.

Close coordination with the site personnel was required to ensure delivery of the project within the agreed schedule as well as to coordinate both transformer specific design changes and modifications to accommodate the new larger footprint of the transformer

Through close participation with the site personnel and coordination by the project team this turnkey, labour intensive, multi-discipline project was successfully delivered in a short timeframe.

Find out more about Ampcontrol’s transformer engineering and manufacturing capabilities 

Ampcontrol Welcomes New Board Members

Ampcontrol has secured two new Board members, David Scammell and Matthew Turner.

With the majority shareholding held by private investors, including the original founder of the business, Peter Cockbain, the injection of new members has been welcomed by Board of Directors Chairman, Terry Lawler.

“We are very pleased to welcome David and Matthew to the Board of Ampcontrol and believe their contribution will be beneficial to the ongoing success and sustainability of the business” said Lawler.

This follows the recent vote of confidence shown by the Board by incorporating the role of Managing Director into incumbent Ampcontrol CEO, Rod Henderson nearly 10 months ago.

“It is an important time for Ampcontrol as we seek to cement ourselves in markets where our technology and experience are of extreme value. High growth markets within the Australian economy such as Infrastructure and Renewables, are natural synergies for Ampcontrol whose pedigree is in the integration of electrical power infrastructure and electrical protection technology” said Lawler.

Ampcontrol was recently awarded the contract to design and supply the temporary power infrastructure to the WestConnex and North Connex projects in Sydney.

The business continues to develop its technology and service offering to both the coal and hard rock mining markets within Australia, as well as developing its business offering in South East Asia.

An Overview of Mining Legislative Framework Changes

In 2015 the Work Health and Safety (Mines) Act 2013 and Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulation 2014 replace the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act 2002 and the Mine Health and Safety Act 2004 and associated regulations. The laws are NSW based, but with changes planned for WA and QLD legislation, increased harmonisation between the major mining states will be achieved.

This paper outlines the requirements of the new legislation including the key features and impact of the changes for applicable operations, with particular attention paid to electrical requirements. You can download the paper here or read it below.


The Work Health and Safety (Mines) Act 2013 and Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulation 2014 came into law February 1st 2015, replacing the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act 2002 and the Mine Health and Safety Act 2004 and associated regulations. These laws support the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011, providing additional direction specific to mines. The new laws are applicable at all coal, metalliferous, opal and gemstone mines, and quarries. A ‘mine’ is a workplace where mining operations occur, namely mining activities and activities in connection with mining. Mining activities refers to such undertakings as:

  • Extracting minerals from the ground
  • Injecting minerals into the ground but only where the primary purpose of the injection is to inject a mineral into the ground or to return a mineral to the ground or „
  • Exploring for minerals

Activities in connection with mining (provided they are carried out on a site where mining activities occur or in the vicinity of such a site) include the construction of a mine site, as well as preparing or processing and handling or storage of extracted materials.

Exclusions exist for the application of these new laws, namely:

  • Fossicking or an activity carried out in relation to the extraction of minerals on private land and non-commercial use of the owner of the land
  • Where the extraction of minerals is incidental to the activity, for example, civil works such as tunnelling to create a road and
  • Certain activities that are subject to regulation under separate safety laws.

Additionally, small opal and gemstone mines are exempt from many provision of the new legislation, and simplified management plans, considering specific risks may be considered. Exemptions which were applied under former law are taken to continue in force in the same terms as previously legislated. They will cease on whichever occurs earlier:

  • Nine months after commencement of the regulation
  • The regulator revokes the exemption
  • At the end of the specified period if applicable
  • If no period was specified then at the end of five years from the date of the exemption being granted

What has changed

The fundamental safety requirements prescribed in the new legislation are broadly similar to previous laws. There have been some changes in terminology when referring to safety managements plans (previously differing between coal and metalliferous mines), mechanical and electrical engineering control (instead of management) plans, and safety and health representatives (previously check inspectors in coal mining).

Changes have been made to the requirements for notifying the regulator of incidents and injuries, high risk activities (for example, live electrical work), mine operators, as well as to other information required by the regulator including keeping a mine record.

Key features

Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have a primary duty to ensure the health and safety of all whose work activities they influence or direct, and must manage the risks associated with mining operations by: „

  • Complying with the specific requirements under the Work Health and Safety (Mines) laws
  • Identifying foreseeable hazards, ensuring there are competent people to assess the risk
  • Eliminating and minimising risks as far as reasonably practicable
  • Maintaining and reviewing control measures

The management of risk includes developing and implementing a documented safety management system. Planning is a critical part of risk management, and the safety management system will usually include specific plans for hazards and risks. In particular, principal control plans are required for:

  • Emergenci
  •  Electricity
  • Health
  • Plant and other mechanical equipment
  • Explosives

Additionally, specific controls are prescribed for electrical safety, air quality, ventilation and dust, belt conveyors and shaft winders and coal dust explosion and spontaneous combustion.

The new legislation applies to all types of mining, but not all requirements apply to all mines. Specific controls are grouped to include those applying to all mines, underground mines, underground coal mines and all coal mines.

Electrical safety obligations

The fundamental obligations under the new law are similar to those previously required for coal mining under the previous legislation, in relation to electrical safety.

Clause 32 of the Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulation 2014 outlines the specific requirements for managing the risks associated with electrical safety. In particular the mine operator must ensure that: „

  • Electrical work at the surface and testing of electrical circuits be carried out in accordance with the Wiring Rules (AS/NZS3000). „
  • Adequately rated switchgear is provided to switch off and restore power should a fault occur and not allow automatic restoration should a fault persist. „
  • Clearly labelled isolation facilities are provided for all electrical plant and that operators are competent in using this facility.
  • Plans of all electrical installations are maintained, showing location, rating and operation of electrical equipment.
  • All underground electrical equipment, as well as mobile electrical plant fed by flexible trailing or reeling cables at all mines, be protected to ensure as far as reasonably practicable the most likely type of fault is a low energy fault, with provision for protection including: earth fault limitation, earth fault lockout, earth continuity.
  • All mains powered hand held devices include earth leakage of no more than 30mA, and that an effective earth system is provided at the mine to minimise as far as reasonably practicable touch and step potentials.
  • Overcurrent and short circuit protection is provided on all circuits, including sub-circuits.
  • Earth leakage protection is included on all sub-circuits, distribution and control circuits, excepting extra-low voltage or isolated circuits.

Implications of the change

A process of audit and assessment of the current safety systems in place at an operation is required to ensure that the requirements of the new legislation are met. This will ensure that the appropriate controls are in place for managing risk.

Mine operators may need to consider the development of safety management plans and principal control plans, as well as the ensuring the registration of plant and plant designs.

Other aspects which may need to be considered include:

  • Appropriate application of Codes of Practice and Standards in relation to new legislation, to ensure that risk is managed to as low as reasonably practicable.
  • Additional requirements for the provision of training, information and instruction for safe operation and maintenance of equipment.
  • Electrical safety and protection requirements and implications this may have for design changes for any installation should this be required (for example, for earth fault limitation).
  • Ensuring all electrical infrastructure having an installed capacity above 1MW, or voltage above 1000V at the mine is inspected, installed and commissioned by appropriately qualified and competent personnel, including the appointment of relevant statutory positions for electrical signoff.

Transitional arrangements have been put in place to allow operators to review the new laws and take steps to ensure they comply. Up to two years is provided for the mine operator to comply with the requirements for the safety management system, principal mining hazard management plans and principal control plans (provided the operator complies with the specific provision of the current legislation). Licences and certificates of competence granted under previous laws will continue to be recognised, as will certain restriction, direction or exemptions.


The Work Health and Safety (Mines) Act 2013 and Work Health and Safety (Mines) Regulation 2014 replace the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act 2002 and the Mine Health and Safety Act 2004 and associated regulations. This legislation will provide increased harmonisation between the major mining states. While the requirements of the new legislation are similar to the previous laws, there are changes which will need to be considered across mines. Transitional arrangements are in place to allow for mine operators to review the new legislation in conjunction with existing systems. More information about the new legislation and its application can be found at the NSW Department of Resources and Energy website:

Requirements of Australian Standard AS/NZS2081

The implementation of an effective electrical protection scheme is critical in ensuring the safety of personnel and equipment working with electrical systems.

AS/NZS2081 – Electrical Protection Devices for Mines and Quarries represents best practice in the design and verification of safe electrical protection schemes appropriate for the unique mining environment.

Find out more about the types of electrical protection, including earth continuity, earth leakage, earth fault lockouts, NER integrity protection and Frozen contactor protection, stipulated in AS/NZS2081 and explore the criteria for implementing each to ensure a safe and effective protection scheme in this whitepaper or below webinar.

Networking – An Underground Mining Example

Challenged with a dynamic mining environment and lack of qualified in-house fibre optic and network personnel, an underground coal mine in Queensland employed Ampcontrol’s specialist network capability in conjunction with the H3RO (Harsh Environment Reticulated Optics) system to simplify their underground communication network.

The customer’s mining operation operates with five mining panels, each at various stages and each utilising fibre optic network communications. Equipment including the transformers, DCB’s, section circuit breakers, belt starters, feeder breakers, gas monitoring and wireless communications required easy connection into the network by staff without a working knowledge of fibre optics.

The customer also required that the new system have the ability to be moved from one mining panel to another and be easily reconnected into the network without complex time-consuming configuration.

Take a look at how we achieved reduced hardware complexity and cost savings while improving network availability and reliability below or download a PDF version.


  • Cost savings by reducing hardware complexity
  • Improved network availability and reliability while achieving the desired high level of redundancy for critical services
  • System standardisation with spare capacity to support future expansion
  • Improved network monitoring and management of critical services, able to be accessed remotely
  • Reduced downtime for maintenance and system modification
  • Ongoing system support to customer
  • Customer satisfaction – the customer is looking to standardise (implement) the H3RO system as standard across other sites.


The site’s network infrastructure had a number of limitations which were causing reliability and operational problems. The customer’s underground communication architecture consisted of a complex arrangement of segregated network components which made management of systems difficult. The architecture had grown organically, meaning there was no standard configuration or deployment of network devices, introducing redundancy and reliability issues. These issues were compounded by the installation of a mix of different vendor devices which created interoperability issues when managing the network including the failure of communication links and redundancy mechanisms not operating as expected.

A lack of up to date documentation made troubleshooting faults across the network difficult and time consuming, resulting in unacceptable downtime for communication network problems. In addition, the existing system at the mine had no capacity for future expansion increasing the risk of system instability and failure.

Network Solution

Working closely with the site’s operational and IT personnel, Ampcontrol completed a comprehensive analysis of their system, defining the requirements of the network now and into the future. Based on this assessment, a custom architecture could be engineered to meet the demands of the network including:

  • Implementation of a consistent arrangement for network hardware, including device consolidation and standardisation of vendor devices to eliminate interoperability and redundancy issues.
  • Network device configuration standardised for easy equipment replacement.
  • Increased security of network data provided through virtual separation of network traffic.
  • Comprehensive network monitoring and management of critical infrastructure including logical segregation through the implementation of virtual networks, with the added benefit of increased bandwidth and performance.
  • Software management system for remote access to all network devices and process control management.

Infrastructure Solution

As part of the site’s network solution, Ampcontrol worked with the customer to install new fibre based communications hardware utilising the H3RO system. The H3RO system provided a new plug and play method of fibre versus traditional specialised labour install. The customer was able to mount the small, robust IP68 rated H3RO fobots out of the way using the universal mounting system and avoided the need for specialist fibre labour for patching and mounting of traditional stainless steel fobot cabinets.

A standardised installation of H3RO allowed the customer to keep separate mining panels consistent by using the same H3RO fobot ports for similar applications across panels. This layout, in addition to the tool-less quick connect H3RO plugs, made it easy for unqualified staff to terminate the equipment and run cables into new mining sections to provide machine interconnectivity and data collection.

What is H3RO? Find out more about H3RO a reliable, scalable and cost effective reticulated optic fibre solution for industrial applications.


Networked Communications for Data Management

With the changing face of the mining industry, companies are working hard to ensure the reliability and efficiency of existing infrastructure to minimise costs and maximise output without compromising on safety.

Data analysis and the integration of data into system processes is fundamental to achieving this, with the coordination of site wide communications (facilitated through network convergence) to capture all processes into planning systems allowing the optimisation of resources across all aspects of the mine site.

The importance of data

The value of data lies in the insights and operational intelligence it can provide to drive sustainable productivity and decrease costs. This value cannot be derived without distilling and analysing the data to make it meaningful.

As data collection processes become more complex, with the ability to collect more and more information from a broader range of devices, data analytics becomes a critical part of the decision making process. Interpreting data and integrating it into planning platforms allows for more efficient allocation of resources and for it to be incorporated into all aspects of planning. Examples of this include safety analytics where different data collection processes can be correlated to predict increases in safety risk factors such as fatigue and absences due to illness or injury. Predictive maintenance also becomes available when trending data across condition and performance of equipment can help with the development of maintenance schedules and assessment of equipment performance.

Collecting data

Around a network, data is collected from a range of sources including equipment and environment control and monitoring systems, employee management systems and productivity measures. Such systems contribute huge amounts of data, which needs to be distilled to gain operational benefit. Complicating this process further is that data is often gathered from many disparate systems and communicated throughout a network in a number of ways. For example, it may be locally displayed on a device, remotely viewed via a SCADA or PLC system, or accessed using other web based network interfaces.

Underground mine communications presents a number of unique challenges when it comes to data collection. Equipment or other communication devices may be spread across a wide area, often in hazardous or hard to access locations.

Typically this communication network includes a number of separate systems, from basic controller and sensors providing data local to the device, through to highly intelligent devices which provide feedback through PLC or SCADA systems to the surface via a web interface.

In addition, the communication network must cope with the arduous conditions of the underground mining environment and often be installed and maintained by personnel who are not experts in communication technology such as network cable termination or data interpretation.

These conditions make it challenging to ensure the information is interpreted in a consistent and coordinated way so that it can be actioned.

The benefits of network convergence

With so much data being collected and stored, it is not surprising that network convergence is the hot topic in industry. Network convergence, simply put, involves the combination and connection of different platforms and networks, allowing different types of systems to connect with each other using a common standard. This allows mines to coordinate information across their entire site irrespective of platform, and display this information in real time to a number of stakeholders.

Network technologies are moving towards cloud-based management systems. This allows users to work on a virtual network utilising hardware controlled from a central server that manages resources to connected devices. Cloud or virtual networking provides simplified hardware requirements and hence significant cost savings. For example, SCADA systems could utilise a private cloud network that includes the desired level of redundancy and efficiency. It also has the advantage of allowing for mobile computing. The portability of mobile computing is particularly beneficial in mining applications, where the network is characterised by a wide reaching and often moving network infrastructure in hazardous conditions. Mobile computing provides work location flexibility and easy access to data across the network saving time and increasing productivity.

In addition to obvious hardware advantages, the move towards network convergence, supported by cloud-based technology, is an effective means of data management. Data can be displayed easily across a number of connected devices. It can also be incorporated into ERP platforms to facilitate a more holistic approach to decision making across the business. This data can provide dynamic feedback of resources which can be easily shared between stakeholders and integrated into planning for all business processes including human resources, procurement, production, asset management and customer service and sales.

Networking technology such as Ampcontrol’s H3RO (Harsh Environment Reticulated Optics) enables integrated system communications to be achieved simply and easily, with access to cloud-based technologies. The system ensures reliable network communications and allows a more standardised approach to site wide installation and operation. Utilising a platform like H3RO, coupled with basic analysis capabilities, mine sites can maintain reliable communication of data for the entire underground mine network.


Data driven decision making provides mine sites with a means of driving production and efficiency gains through smarter utilisation of existing hardware infrastructure and resource management. The networking of site wide mine communications allows for the effective integration of data received from the variety of disparate operating systems. The advantage of this is more effective data collection and hence more valuable input into planning processes for resource allocation, improving productivity and safety. Ampcontrol specialises in networked communication and data management. We can help you drive sustainable productivity, improve safety and decrease costs with reliable networks, effective data management and ultimately meaningful data.

Solar Flow Monitoring and Control Device

Ampcontrol built a customised and robust Flow Monitoring and Control Station with solar power capabilities suitable for remote location usage.

The station was customised for the harsh conditions and included battery backups providing continuous power and therefore continuous monitoring and control capabilities via the remote telemetry module operating in the 450 or 900MHz frequency spectrum.

The station is housed in a stainless steel enclosure which protects the monitoring and control equipment from the elements including heat, direct sunlight, dust and rain, including tropical deluge in storms, it’s also cyclone rated essential for the environment the station is installed in.

The station monitors and controls localised equipment through radio telemetry for both analogue and digital systems, reporting to the central monitoring station which analyses conditions and provides remote control capabilities.


  • Solar powered for continuous power supply in remote areas
  • Monitoring capability of up to 70km line of sight (dependant on radio modem selected) with repeater station capability to extend range further
  • Fitted with anti vibration mounts, removing issues relating to vibration from ground movement or equipment