How innovation trumps isolation, one mine at a time

It’s just over 3,200 kilometers from Hexagon’s Brisbane office to the Pilbara in Western Australia. Or about nine hours by plane, including transfers. For customers who measure their productivity down to the second, there’s no time like real-time.

This 40-second video captures the value of collaboration and expertise projected across a continent in real time.

Hexagon’s John Dawes (Senior Safety Consultant) and Rob Marshall (Senior Field Technician) are in the Brisbane office, connected with their colleague, Field Technician, Zac Dilena, on-site in the Pilbara. Zac is wearing a RealWear headset attached to his hard hat and connected to the team using a platform provided by HINDSITE, with both hands free, scoping out a MineProtect hardware installation for our collision avoidance and vehicle intervention systems.

Together, the trio solve a problem for the customer quickly, effectively and in a way that is increasingly becoming the norm. It’s a great example of how technology in resourceful hands can help us adapt to adversity in numerous different ways.

Hexagon pivots to overcome COVID-19 restraints

Shortly after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the words “social distancing” entered the global lexicon. As governments, healthcare organizations and the public scrambled to respond to the crisis, one thing became abundantly clear: isolation was and, for most of us, still is the key to maintaining our health.

Hexagon, a leader in sensor, software and autonomous solutions, was well positioned to pivot and assist in the global response to the crisis. From simulations of the effects of social distancing to mapping the spread of COVID-19 in real time, to drone technology delivering COVID-19 tests, to providing communities with transparent geospatial information, Hexagon solutions continue to help ensure that innovation is readily available to those who need it most during uncertain times.

Hexagon’s Operator Alertness System allows operators to wear face masks while still being monitored for signs of fatigue and distraction – a particularly useful feature during the COVID-19 pandemic when mines are mandating drivers to wear face masks.

The effects on the public of social distancing, lockdowns and travel bans are well documented. They also present unique challenges to the mining industry.

Most mines are under immense pressure to stay ahead of the technology curve to remain safe, sustainable and productive. Human interaction is at the heart of implementing new solutions and training staff. But how do you connect with technical experts who are prevented by laws and lockdowns from entering your country, let alone your mine?

For Hexagon’s Mining division, this posed a significant challenge. We’ve built our business – our reputation – on regional, customer-focused service and support. We like being close to our customers! True to Hexagon’s values of being professional, engaged and customer-focused, we innovated to overcome the distance dilemma.


Innovating to adapt at mines during the pandemic

Bloomberg recently cited Hexagon in an article about the pandemic’s affect on mining, (“Robots once seen as job killers now protect workers from COVID”) the consensus being that interest in automation has jumped.

Implementing technology from a distance to make automation a reality has helped deepen partnerships with customers by making it easier to tap into our global experts’ knowledge.

For example, earlier this year body cameras were at the heart of a successful safety installation at Gold Fields’ Tarkwa Mine in Ghana. More than 220 mine vehicles were equipped with MineProtect Collision Avoidance System with minimal delays, despite pandemic lockdown preventing travel by our South Africa staff into Ghana.

In addition to using RealWear headsets in the field and utilizing the knowledge management platform from HINDSITE, Hexagon workshop technicians are leveraging Smith Optics safety glasses with Google Glass Enterprise Edition to support hardware repairs in local offices from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Brisbane and Perth, Australia to Balikpapan, Indonesia. These repairs might once have been undertaken in head offices in Switzerland or Tucson, Arizona.

In many cases, this has reduced hardware repair and return times, lowered costs, enabled the sharing and capturing of implicit knowledge in a corporate repository, and ultimately improved the customer experience. Post-pandemic, Hexagon will continue to refine and improve this method of working.


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