Serious about mining safety

People are a mine’s most precious resource. Yet securing their safety amidst heavy traffic, large equipment, and poor visibility can be challenging. For all mines, accommodating the pressure for productivity with the need for safety is a fine balance. But Hexagon Mining believes safety solutions that put people first need not be at the expense of efficiency and results. In fact, money spent on safety is the most solid investment a mine can make.

Hexagon Mining’s safety solutions offer 360-degree protection through collision avoidance, vehicle intervention, early-warning detection systems, fatigue monitoring, and slope stability monitoring. Here’s a summary:

Proven collision avoidance for the mining industry

Hexagon Mining’s Collision Avoidance System is used in more than 25,000 vehicles in over 60 mines.

Hexagon Mining’s Collision Avoidance System is used in more than 25,000 vehicles in over 60 mines.

Our Collision Avoidance System (CAS) gives vehicle operators 360-degree proximity detection at any speed and in all conditions via unobtrusive cabin display units. For operators, CAS represents peace of mind. It helps them work more confidently and productively, especially in poor visibility caused by rain, snow, and fog. It also helps at night when the system becomes invaluable, helping drivers to work more smoothly and efficiently.

The system is used in more than 25,000 vehicles and in over 60 mines worldwide.

Besides mitigating accidents and avoiding costly downtime for repairs, CAS delivers more profound benefits.

“I was driving along in a light vehicle and came to an intersection, looked both ways, didn’t see anything, so I started to accelerate,” recalls Martin Leggat, a mine surveyor for New Hope Group’s Acland Mine in Queensland, Australia. “Then CAS went off and alerted me that a vehicle was coming and within a second there was a big 793 dump truck coming down on me. The system basically saved me.”

Mines using CAS report a reduction in collisions. The Premier Mine in Western Australia, for instance, reported a 53% reduction in metal-to-metal contacts within the year following implementation of CAS.

Another large mining company in Australia reported its results at the 2014 Queensland Mining Industry Health & Safety Conference. In the 12 months that preceded CAS implementation, the mine experienced 14 machine-to-machine incidents. After CAS was implemented, there were only two incidents during the next two years. The first involved a rented dozer that was not fitted with CAS, thus, the other vehicle was not able to detect this dozer. In the second incident, the system alerted the operator but he failed to take evasive action.

Mines can use this data and the improved safety record to negotiate lower insurance premiums, further reducing cost. A major mine in South America showed that 98% of its 521 operators believed that CAS is a useful tool for keeping them and their colleagues safe. Further, 97% say that the information presented by CAS is sufficient and easy to interpret.

Incidents of speeding have been reduced by mines using CAS’s real-time reporting functionality.

Incidents of speeding have been reduced by mines using CAS’s real-time reporting functionality.

Effective fatigue monitoring

Operator fatigue is another leading cause of incidents in the mine. Heavy machinery, monotonous work, and long hours heighten the dangers of fatigue. Operators are often unaware of critical situations, so help detecting fatigue levels is essential to mitigate the associated risks.

FatigueMonitor is fully integrated with CAS, and uses proven computer vision technology to monitor operators unobtrusively while driving. While most preventive systems and wearables are limited to fatigue, computer vision also identifies operator distraction and can therefore help to keep attention on the road.

Part of the fatigue prevention strategy lies in the provision of individual fatigue risk for every operator. This challenging task is approached by using as many available parameters as possible. To estimate fatigue risk levels the output of the computer vision is of course one factor. But it also accounts for individual driving hours on the truck, breaks, number of consecutive shifts, preceding shift changes or time of day, etc. This is what we call a multi-factorial approach.

Camera systems are truck-based and need not be customized for each operator, which is a major advantage considering spare part management and administration. All computer vision-based systems work in the near-infrared range, regardless of lighting conditions (day/night). This wavelength penetrates many standard sun glasses that are otherwise completely dark in the visual range.

Fully integrated with CAS, FatigueMonitor uses proven computer vision technology to monitor operators unobtrusively while they drive.

Fully integrated with CAS, FatigueMonitor uses proven computer vision technology to monitor operators unobtrusively while they drive.

Once an incident is identified, the system issues a unique in-cabin alert. A blinking warning sign on the FatigueMonitor status display informs the potentially disoriented driver in parallel. Simultaneously, the corresponding image sequence is sent to the control room for review. Video review not only helps to trigger the mine’s fatigue procedures but it can also be used for training and prevention by reviewing the videos with the operator after the shift.

The combination of a fatigue and distraction monitoring system with the collision avoidance system is unique and powerful. Highest loss accidents typically involve two heavy vehicles or one heavy and one light vehicle. The dangers are even more imminent in surrounding traffic, which is exactly when CAS takes care of the vehicle to vehicle interaction and alarms accordingly while FatigueMonitor looks inside the cabin. Both risks are mitigated with the same system; two layers of safety in one display on a single unit, meaning less hardware in the cabin.

Vehicle intervention – a first and last resort

Previewed at MINExpo in 2016, HxGN Mine VIS adds a further layer of protection to CAS.

VIS takes control of a machine in certain situations if the operator does not react appropriately to a CAS warning. Depending on the situation, VIS can automatically cut the propulsion, apply the retarder or even activate the service brakes.

Sishen mine operated by AngloAmerican Kumba Iron Ore contacted Hexagon Mining about a system in 2014. The mine had conducted an extensive risk assessment of its operation to understand major risks. Together with the customer Hexagon Mining defined a step-by-step approach to develop a solution.

VIS is integrated with CAS and uses the same sensors and user interface, thus protecting the customer’s initial investment. It’s one more step in the trend towards human-assist products.

True to our commitment to integration, heavy machine equipment operators will have more combined safety and operational context than ever before. The safety portfolio will soon be extended towards personal protection systems, actively warning pedestrians and vehicle operators of their proximity, further eliminating blind spots.

Reliable surveying and monitoring

Safety is also at the heart of our integration of planning, operations, geodetic slope monitoring, surveying, UAV, (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and radar-based monitoring systems. Automated motorized total stations and GNSS technology are pivotal to risk management in mining high walls, tailings dams, and other critical structures. Leica GeoMos can combine any geotechnical, meteorological, hydrological or other sensors into its analysis and dashboard platform, correlating all pertinent data into one location. Complementing GeoMos is the IBIS radar from IDS’s GeoRadar division, which was recently acquired by Hexagon.

The IBIS radar is an interferometric mine slope radar that addresses the need for critical safety and long-term slope monitoring. It’s used in more than 170 locations worldwide and has warned prior to slope failure in many prominent mining groups.

Ultimately, the most important asset coming out of a mine at the end of the day isn’t what’s extracted – it’s the people who make it all possible. That’s why Hexagon Mining is committed to integrating its wide technology portfolio to deliver a holistic view of a mine, bringing with it benefits for both safety and productivity.

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