Safety & Speed thanks to BLE!

The global material solutions company Sibelco ensures more safety for workers in the Italian quartz mine of Robilante: BLE, implemented in an unconventional way, automatically identifies people on the vehicle getting in or out the quarry and makes so the people/vehicles access and exhit smoother, speeder and without danger

At a Glance


Sibelco Italia SpA / Italy


More safety & speedy access


BLE industrial Gateway & wearable Beacons


Automatic identification & quick access


Founded in 1872, initially supplying silica sand from deposits in Flanders to Belgium’s major glass producers, Sibelco takes today care of raw mineral extraction and its manufacturing to produce modern products and solutions: it’s a truly multinational business, operating in over 200 production sites in more than 40 countries with a team of over 10,000 people.
Among the mineral used there are siliceous sands, calcium carbonate, chromite, clay, dolomite, iron oxide, lime, quartz and talcum, which are employed in several scenarios as farming, electronics, sports and entertainment, energy and engineering.

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The challenge: Sibelco’s needs

«The safety of our employees, visitors and contractors is, of course, our priority. We put great effort into achieving both zero workplace injuries and caring for the wellness of our employees.»
With this sentence, extracted from the corporate website, Sibelco highlights the particular attention and care given to people’s safety, and being an important value to taking care of, the company adopts in 2017 Bluetooth Low Energy as important support technology at the quartz mine located in Robilante, a town close to Cuneo, in the Piedmont region of Italy.

BLE Solution for people access control (inside the vehicle)

The material extraction takes place with explosions; after this procedure, quartz is first smashed and then brought down to the valley with a conveyor more then 2 Kilometers long, where processing is completed. Sibelco needs to ensure that, at the time of closure and during explosions, no operator is inside the mine and, as the entrances are not manned, it was looking for technology capable of automatically detecting people on board vehicles.

BLE solution: from challenges to answers

The BLE solution for the access control of people on board vehicles is based on Bluetooth Low Energy wireless technology: two gateways have been installed at each side of the gate, 5m away before and after the gate, they detect in a hand-free mode the workers transit and its direction (entry/exit).

BLE Solution for people access control (inside the vehicle)

The data sent by BLE Beacon key-fob worn by people is received from gateway and transmitted using TCP/IP to the receiving host via designed radio bridges to cover more than 2 km distance .
In particular, the BLE gateway detects the Beacon data far 5 – 6 m from it; this range is set through the filter on the RSSI of the received signal, while the electric gate is controlled by the relay embedded in the gateway.

Why Bluetooth Low Energy?

  • Bluetooth Low Energy is the only technology able to respond to the special identification needs expressed by Sibelco: being mine entry-point not manned, a hand-free and automatic detection of people on board of the vehicles is essential.
  • Massive detection, since there are an average of 3 or 4 workers on board the vehicle (the anti-collision potential of this technology is greater than this value, as it can detect people inside a minibus); the entrance speed of the vehicle through the gate is about 30 Km/h, parameter fully satisfied by the BLE technology, which reached during the test the automatic and simultaneous detection of 4 people on board the vehicle with a speed of 60 Km/h.
  • Identification range required is about 5-6 meters: BLE distance performances are much greater then this value, being able to reach 100 meters.

BLE is so implemented in an unconventional way, like an active RFID , performing excellently and responding so to the projects requirements.


Active since the summer of 2017, the BLE solution works as a guardian in monitoring the entry/exit of people from the mine sites, giving alerts with alarms if the presence of people outside the permitted time periods is detected , i. e. at night and in case of scheduled explosions.

The experience in Sibelco shows how BLE is the ideal technological tool in environments such as quarries, mines and tunnels aiming to the safety of people.

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One of the strong points of the system is that it is able to simultaneously and automatically recognize multiple BLE Beacons (or EchoBeacon) within the gateway’s range of action, in order to record the access of all the employees on the vehicle entering in the quarry.

Using “blank” BLE devices and whitelist, it is possible to record the access of any external personnel (visitors, external companies, etc.).

Technology details

The quarry entry-points are controlled by BluEpyc Bluetooth Low Energy Industrial Wall Mount Ethernet Gateway, fixed to a pole with its appropriate set: rugged, equipped with web server on-board , with a configurable firmware, CPU and Digital Input/Output used to control the gate bar at the access points. This device covers a detection area up to 100 m and is able to read and write information on standard Beacons, in addition to Eddystone and iBeacon Tag.

Therefore, the task of the gateway is to receive and manage data coming from the Tag/Beacon – key fob shaped, worn by people on board, and re-transmitting the data collected, to the host server in different ways (Ethernet Lan, Wi-Fi or Mobile GPRS).

BluEpyc Bluetooth Low Energy Industrial Wall Mount Ethernet Gateway

The most relevant benefit is that this technology can detect people from inside the truck, therefore this is not obliged to stop and people do not have to get off to badge prior to enter. Everything can be done smoothly, almost without noticing that a registration process is going on.

Federico Salvati, Site Manager, Robilante Plant, Sibelco Italia SpA
Sibelco’s corporate website

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BluEpyc Bluetooth Low Energy Industrial Wall Mount Ethernet Gateway

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