Fig. 1. The new RAG control room on the site of the former Pluto mine in Herne-Wanne. Photo: RAG

A data haven in perpetuity

Perpetuity starts at the former Pluto mine in Herne-Wanne/Germany. All the elements that are needed to manage and control post-mining tasks converge at the new control room of RAG Aktiengesellschaft, Essen/Germany (Figure 1). The company is thus ensuring that its water-related processes run smoothly – for the protection of people and the environment.

Monitoring staff man the new control room 24 hours a day. They monitor a range of systems and their processes in the Ruhr, Saar and Ibbenbüren. In addition to performing weather-related monitoring of the open mine, they also monitor the drainage facilities, permanent mining subsidence damage and polder systems, as well as doors and gates at all relevant locations. In the future, an innovative system developed in cooperation with the TH Georg Agricola University (THGA) in Bochum/Germany to monitor rises in the mine water level will play an important role. The monitoring carried out provides information such as the flow speed, composition and flooding of the mine water. As well as the perpetual obligations, all monitoring activities are being transferred to the control room at Pluto in May 2019 in the course of the decommissioning of the Prosper-Haniel mine. Since there will be a lot of important data in one place, maximum security is required.

Special visualisation technology is used for this purpose. It is designed for 24/7 operation and involves a large wall of 14 screens measuring 10 m wide and 2 m high. All key information is displayed on the wall graphically. The information is shown automatically and based on events. If there is a fault, e. g., monitoring staff will be shown the relevant information and instructions. At one of the four workstations, each equipped with five screens, monitoring staff investigate the fault in more detail and alert the responsible employees or on-call service. Behind the visualisation is an innovative platform in the control room system that links together all the data to allow a clear analysis. The system is modular and can be expanded to accommodate further tasks in the future.

The building has 1,700 m2 of usable space. It has its own emergency power system, so even if there is a regional power failure, the key monitoring processes will be able to continue running for up to a week. The data is processed and stored by systems in a redundant design: If a component in the process chain fails, the control room remains fully functional. TÜV Rheinland was involved in the construction of the control room right from the start. There are strict requirements. These include operation management and contingency plans, as well as the relevant documentation. (RAG/Si.)