A Tracking System for Mining System Applications

The VISORTRAC system was developed to allow tracking of mining personnel as well as mining vehicles. The VISORTRAC system provides an easy interface to any Ethernet based network and can be supplied with converters to a fiber optic backbone, RS-485 multi-drop or Leaky Feeder Systems.


The system consists of these basic components:

  1. RFID Encoded UHF transmitter to identify personnel. Unit is attached to miners belt and is known as a
  2. PRIMPortable Radio Identification Module”
  3. A UHF transceiver and embedded controller used to collect data from PRIM’s and VISOR’s. Units are placed at strategic points in the mine where personnel travel or work and are known as RINC “Radio Identification Node Controller” –
  4. A transceiver unit fitted to the vehicle to identify the type of vehicle and the operator and is known as a VISOR Vehicle Identification System On Radio” - .
  5. TRAFFIC LIGHT – Connects to RINC transceiver to manage traffic into specific locations.
  6. Dedicated SQL Software and tracking application software known as VISORTRAC
  7. Optional Devices - Alert horn(s) with a mute function, Remote Antenna.

Example of a VisorTrac Layout

Miner Tracking with Visortrac Tracking system.


All personnel entering the mine are required to have a PRIM. The PRIM is powered by an internal battery with a lifetime of up to 2 years and transmits a unique identification code. It has a transmission range of 70 to 200 meters in most mine entries. The transmission time is short and the RINC reader polling is fast enough to assure a minimum of signal collision.

The vehicle is fitted with a VISOR transceiver, antenna and optional alert horn. The transceiver detects the presence of all RINC’s within its receive zone. The VISOR has a display that indicates to the operator the number of RINC’s detected as well as any permission required.

The RINC unit is connected to the existing communications backbone in locations where monitoring of vehicles and personnel are desired. RINC’s may be delivered with an optional built-in media converter to either single or multi-mode fiber. Connection to RS-485 multi-drop cables and links to leaky feeder radio are also possible. When a person wearing a PRIM is within range of a RINC the data packet transmitted by the PRIM is combined with other data from the RINC and is passed to the VISORTRAC server located in the mine office. The packet contains information on status of the battery, alarm button and signal strength.


PRIM units are transmitters that may be used to identify personnel or machines. When used to identify personnel they are simply attached to the belt of the miner tracking their location when on the mine property. The software identifies the individual by the unique code assigned to that unit. The PRIM units operate at low power (-100 mw) UHF(900MHz) Band.


MSHA IS Approval No. 23-A060001-0

Attached to belt of miner tracking their movment on the mine property.

PRIM units have the following features:

  • Operate on UHF frequencies with specific identification code
  • Small in size and light weight approximately 2 X 3 X .75 inch
  • Self contained power source with battery life up to 2 years.
  • Specific identification codes can be provided by Marco
  • Push button to signal alert or an alarm
  • Normal expected range will be not more than 100 meters
  • To achieve maximum battery life the PRIM is transmit only


The VISORTRAC system was developed to allow tracking of mining personnel as well as mining vehicles. The VISORTRAC system provides an easy interface to any Ethernet based network and can be supplied with converters to a fiber optic backbone, RS-485 multi-drop systems or Leaky Feeder Systems. An X/P version is also available for hazardous locations


Receives and transmits location of miners(PRIM) and equipment(VISOR) in rangeof the RINC to the surface.

RINC units have the following features:

  • Identified by a programmable label in the Visortrac software
  • Information can be viewed on standard web browser or to excel spread sheet
  • Interface directly to Ethernet, RS-485 or other options are available
  • Rugged construction for the mining environment
  • Transceivers operating at UHF frequencies
  • Small size permits the RINC to be lowered down a drill hole to receive the signal from any PRIM’s which maybe in the area of the drill hole.
  • May be located in dangerous area to alert the carrier of a PRIM that they are about to enter a restricted area. (Optional Strobe Indicator with RINC)
  • Optional Battery operated RINC with transceiver communications to a wired RINC for use in areas where intrinsically safe devices are required.


The VISOR units are transceivers that maybe installed in the vehicle or can be used as a handheld tracking unit to location PRIM’s. They have a keypad for entering the employee number and a LCD display. The units are connected to the vehicle electrical system for power and to detect when the engine is turned on or off. The LCD display will automatically indicate the following status:


Visor our Equipment tracking  unit. sends information about location, state (parked/running/off) and Driver ID

  • The VISOR, with a self-contained rechargeable battery can be placed with oxygen caches permitting text communications with a RINC lowered down a bore hole during an emergency.
  • The VISOR display will also show the signal strength and status of any PRIM’s within range. Could be useful in locating lost or trapped miners
  • Listening for a RINC Node
  • Receive acknowledgement of logging by the RINC
  • Acknowledge RINC contact by sending ID Packet
  • With interface to an AMS system, Visor can be used to control diesel traffic into a two-entry longwall system. Optionally the RINC can control a traffic light controlling entry by “RED” traffic light stays on and the VISOR display shows “WAIT”. When sufficient air is available the light will change to “GREEN” and the VISOR display shows “ALLOWED”.
  • When a VISOR is located within receiving distance of a RINC, they will exchange information and the VISOR will display status accordingly. While parked at the working place the VISOR will display "PARKED" if the engine is switched to off. A button on the VISOR must be pushed to request permission to start.


The VISORTRAC Server is a PC based computer with the following features:

  • Collects and stores current RINC and Visor Data showing the location of VISOR's and PRIM's with time stamp.
  • Receives alarm signal from PRIM and broadcasts a Response.
  • Provides mine with electronic TAG-IN/ TAG-OUT of employees as well as visitors.
  • Provides location by craft employees such as EMT or electrician as well as visitors.
  • Alert if anyone travels into an area marked dangerous by location of RINC.
  • Information transfer to other systems available by special programming as required.
  • Software can receive messages from RINC's and pass them to a VISOR on a vehicle or to an optional LED text display connected to the ethernet or RS-485 MultiDrop in the mining section.
  • Complete history of vehicles and PRIM's can be stored in the database for later reveiw and or storage.

general DESCRIPTION of requirements

  • System will be password protected by a secure operating system.
  • All Operating and Application Software will be provided on the VISORTRAC server.
  • VISORTRAC operating manual will be provided on CD-ROM.
  • The Hardware will be delivered with all software loaded. A list of setup data will be provided on the CD-ROM and one of our engineers will provide training at your location.
  • All VISORTRAC units, VISOR, RINC, PRIM may be relocated as needed. The system operator only needs to assign a new location in a user screen that will update the database table.
  • The system will not provide instantaneous response because it must depend upon many different factors beyond the control of our system. Any system with distributed units networked with radio links and underground propagation of signals cannot guarantee instantaneous response. We will warrant the system to operate as described and it will provide a reasonable response based upon your communications infrastructure.
  • The VISORTRAC system is currently in operation. WE have more than 20 years experience if RF design and embedded microprocessor applications. The receivers and transmitters have been burned in and have passed our internal testing.
  • RINC and VISOR products are not required to be MSHA certified at this time as long they are not located in-by the last open crosscut. The PRIM's are MSHA certified (APPROVAL NO. 23-A060001-0) as intrinsically safe as it will be carried into in-by areas.