Yes. FireFly is an added value for digital networks in a mine that has WiFi or BLE, but these are not required for the system to operate. Each FireFly UPS control panel that manages up to four strings of FireFly lights can be controlled locally, without a network in place.

If a network is available, you can run FireFly central control server application which centrally monitors and manages the site-wide FireFly lighting system.

However, without a network and the use of our web application, you can still run the system seamlessly. You can connect locally to each FireFly UPS control panel via a wired or wireless link.

So, from any mobile device, you can locally control the lights in a given area. As safety is of the utmost priority, in an emergency any worker can trigger the evacuation mode for the FireFly system, either through a software-enabled interface or a physical FireFly UPS control panel.

No. The design of the FireFly LED lighting module PCB circuit enables the failsafe pass-through of both the DC power and the RS485 serial communications. The system has two failure modes to account for different scenarios:

If a FireFly module gets crushed, smashed or falls

All FireFly lights down-stream from the damaged unit would continue to run for up to three hours due to their internal battery, and then go offline.

Immediately after the unit is damaged, a fault alarm is issued on the FireFly lighting control application to allow for a quick response time. When the damaged module is replaced, the system will automatically discover and position the new unit using the software user interface. It will also automatically apply the correct colour setting and mode of operation.

If an individual LED on the FireFly lighting module PCB fails

Only the bank of three LEDs would be affected, meaning that 15 of the 18 LEDs in the module would remain operational. The serial communications and DC power would still pass through to the next FireFly lights and all units downstream would remain operational.

Each string of FireFly lights, powered from the FireFly UPS control panel, can support up to 50 individual FireFly lighting modules. As such, the FireFly system’s limitations are best described by looking from the perspective of the FireFly UPS control panel. There are two key elements to detail. The first is the electrical DC power used to energize the lights. Second is the RS485 serial communications used to control the lighting network.

Each FireFly UPS control panel has four outputs which are each capable of supplying 48VDC at 5A to a string of lights. When asking how far we can run that string of FireFly lights, we need to consider both the voltage drop across the cable and the power consumption of each of the FireFly LED modules which are connected along that string. In practice, we have comfortably installed 35 FireFly LED modules at 20m intervals along a continuous run of 700m, with a 60m lead in cable length.

We can drive a string of FireFly lights out to 1,200m, but there would need to be less lights that are spaced at wider 40m intervals. Additionally, the FireFly UPS control panel also supplies the communications to each LED lighting module along each of the four strings. It does this via an RS85 serial bus connection. The RS485 communications link can operate out to a limitation of 1,200m.

The colour setting and mode of operation for any FireFly light can be adjusted via the lighting control application which can be accessed either via the mine’s wired or wireless networks.

The colours to choose from are:

  • Green
  • Red
  • Amber
  • Blue

These can be adjusted into several modes of operation:

  • Off
  • Solid single colour
  • Brightness Strobing, with customisable timeframes for when the lights are on or off
  • Chase pattern, where adjacent lighting modules cycle on and off frequently to give the perception that the lights are moving along the string.
    • Backwards train
    • Forwards train

Each colour and mode of operation choice can then be applied to:

  • Each individual FireFly LED lighting module
  • Each string of lights
  • Each level of the mine
  • Mine-wide
  • A custom defined map area you can draw a custom polygon in the user interface
  • BLE tags the FireFly LED lighting module turns on when it detects the presence of a BLE tag.

The FireFly smart lighting system has been entirely designed, developed and manufactured in Australia by the IoT Automation team. Every stage of FireFly’s development has been completed with the underground mining environment in mind. From the initial sketches and consideration of system features to the components selected and circuits designed, reliability and safety have always been the primary concern. We are proud to have secured an international patent on the FireFly system.

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