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MineTracer Receives MSHA's First Wireless Tracking System Approval
[February 01, 2008]

MineTracer Receives MSHA's First Wireless Tracking System Approval

SAN DIEGO --(Business Wire)-- Venture Design Services Inc. and Helicomm Inc. announced today the MineTracer Miner Location Monitoring System has been approved for use in underground mines by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). MineTracer is the first wireless tracking system approved since enactment of the MINER Act of 2006 which mandates post-accident communication and tracking in mines.

"The system infrastructure as approved by MSHA today addresses the MINER Act requirements," said Jim Barrett, Venture's Wireless Sensor Networks R&D manager. "We enable wireless location tracking, communication, and environmental monitoring in a single system."

The typical system layout provides continuous tracking of miners along main haulage entries and work areas. In the event of a mine accident, MineTracer will operate continuously on batteries for days after the power has been cut off to the mine. Additional communication and monitoring features will be seamlessly integrated and introduced over the coming months to further enhance the value of the system to mine operators.

With about one third of the country's underground coal mines, West Virginia has been leading the charge in evaluating communication and tracking systems. A MineTracer system has been installed and operating in Southern West Virginia Resources' Big Branch Mine since June 2007. The mine site has been the demonstration platform for interested mine operators and West Virginia legislators.

"The MineTracer system works well and with continuous tracking we know the location of everyone underground at all times," said Kenny Morgan, Big Branch Mine maintenance manager.

Choosing the right technology from the beginning was crucial for meeting the ambitious goals of the MINER Act which include wireless coverage, redundancy, and post accident serviceability. Venture opted for Helicomm's ZigBee-based wireless networking which enables very large, low powered, meshed networks.

"MSHA's approval of MineTracer represents a quantum leap for safety systems in the coal industry," said Ken Hill, Helicomm's director of sales. "It is truly bringing 21st century technology into the mines."

About VDSI and Venture Corporation

With R&D facilities in Liberty Lake, WA, and Santa Rosa, CA, Venture Design Services, Inc. (VDSI) develops wireless communications products and systems focusing on remote sensor networks and data collection. VDSI's parent company, Venture Corporation, Ltd., is a leading global electronics manufacturing and engineering design services company.

About Helicomm

Headquartered in San Diego, Calif., Helicomm is a leading provider of voice and data wireless networks to improve tracking, management and communication of assets by providing wireless networking solutions built upon the IEEE 802.15.4 (ZigBee) and IPv6 global standards for reliable, secure, low-power, cost-effective wireless networks.

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