Meshblox: shopping container solution for computers in hostile environments
|BRISBANE business Meshblox has come up with a simple solution that could solve one of the biggest problems on mine sites: making information technology systems reliable.
Toowong based MeshBlox Pty Ltd is developing a product, the DataBlox, that may provide the answer to the regular failure of critical IT equipment on mining sites.
The DataBlox is basically a complete data centre in a shipping container. It's designed specifically to house computers and communication equipment in extreme and demanding environments.
These days mining tends to be high-tech and information technology (IT) is critical to the smooth operation of a mine.
For example, in mines, computers are required to assist with safety audits, labour force planning or to control and manage critical mine processing equipment.
MeshBlox managing director Matt Heysen said unfortunately mine sites tended on the whole to be located in environments hostile to computers and communication equipment.
"They're hot, dusty and wet and as such extremely corrosive environments, often leading to high IT equipment failure rates," Mr Heysen said.
He said unreliable equipment and failures in IT equipment at mine sites could cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity.
"Housing IT equipment on mine and industrial sites tends to be a bit of an afterthought. So equipment often ends up being housed in demountables that are not suitable for electronic equipment, leading to inefficiencies in power and cooling and that do not often meet the industry standards for housing computer equipment," Mr Heysen said.
"Naturally the industry is very keen to find a solution that is practical, cost-effective and standardised. So what we've come up with is just that.
"The good thing about shipping containers is that they are easily transportable. You can put one on the back of a truck and bring it anywhere. You don't have to put up or take down a building. They can easily be transported from one site to another depending on need."
He said the company had carried out a series of tests on their DataBlox prototype in Brisbane with the assistance of the University of Queensland (UQ).
He said MeshBlox had been in negotiation with several mining companies and that the industry was showing a keen interest.
He said the company was also exploring the suitability of the DataBlox as a communications and IT centre that could be rapidly deployed in disaster-affected areas.
The Queensland Government recently provided the company with $49,000 in innovation funding to help the company get to the stage where the product was ready for commercialisation.