MCC Contracts, the open cast mining and plant rental division of Eqstra Holdings, has mining sites throughout southern Africa, many of them in remote and rural areas.
Reliable connectivity in such areas was difficult to achieve with the available 3G bandwidth, and in many instances 3G was not available at all. In addition, the Department of Minerals and Resources requires that each site be able to access all human resources (HR) information.
With the group-wide rollout of SAP, compliance required highly reliable and fully redundant connectivity. MCC turned to Jasco to deliver the solution.
“We delivered the original access network in 2011 using a combination of microwave, DSL, fibre and VSAT access depending on the specific requirements of each site. This enabled enhanced voice and data communications at remote mine sites, as well as between these sites and MCC headquarters.
“However, when the SAP rollout began in 2013, the network requirements changed. Each site required continuous access to all HR-based SAP content at all times, so they had to have a failover link to ensure this. Jasco then implemented a complete redundant solution across all sites using a combination of microwave and VSAT to ensure always-on connectivity,” says Leanne Hobdey, sales executive at Jasco Enterprise.
To ensure that the networks can appropriately handle the volumes of voice, data and SAP traffic, Jasco implemented quality of service (QoS) onto each and every link at all sites and between sites as well as to the cloud. This ensures that primary data, such as SAP HR content, takes priority, followed by voice traffic and then standard data.
Each site now incorporates an Aruba Wi-Fi network with both wired and wireless access for LAN connectivity, to cater for voice, data and SAP traffic, as well as the redundant WAN. Jasco also delivers a fully managed services offering on the LAN access. In addition, Jasco implemented and maintains the robust indoor and outdoor wireless networks at each site, which enable SIP trunking for reduced telephony costs.
“We had no reliable connectivity on our sites, and 3G simply was not providing the speed and reliability we required. The majority of our operations fall outside of major metropolitan areas, so in many instances other connectivity was limited or completely non-existent. Jasco offered the best solution to our problem, and our connectivity needs have been met,” says Jenny Nelson, Head of IT at MCC Group.
MCC now benefits from a reliable and fully redundant network for voice, data and SAP traffic. In addition they have leveraged cost savings on cellular calls, thanks to the local wireless networks and SIP solution.
All HR information is readily available at all sites, in compliance with the Department of Minerals and Resources requirements, and the company can take advantage of an efficient network which enables them to make use of the ICT solutions which meet the need to be competitive in today’s market.
“This project presented some interesting challenges, as the design of the WAN itself was unique. The QoS had to be specifically matched to the precise number of users at each site, and it was not possible to implement a standardised QoS across the network. In addition, budgetary requirements meant that bandwidth had to be shared, and optimising bandwidth allocations in line with cost, without compromising availability was a challenging task.
“We also had to gear up on our own Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality (SHEQ) management capabilities in order to comply with mining regulations. All challenges were overcome however, and the MCC network is now an excellent example of a successful converged solutions deployment,” Hobdey concludes.