Hexagon advances the next generation of mine safety solutions

The ability to pool data to drive increasingly complex analytics now makes it possible to move from historical safety analysis to predictive solutions. The key is to leverage this confluence of issues to usher in a new wave of safety systems that put companies on the path to zero harm. This means harnessing the power of safety analytics in a more integrated way than in the past.

The daily dangers faced by miners are too numerous and too varied to be addressed by point solutions and multiple vendors. Poor visibility, blind spots, fatigue, distraction and slope instability can only be mitigated by a comprehensive safety response combining technology, change management and a commitment to zero-harm culture.

Hexagon, a global leader in digital reality solutions, combining sensor, software and autonomous technologies, is committed to zero harm. It has long shared its customers’ belief that the most important assets coming out of a mine are the people who make mining possible.

Hexagon’s MineProtect portfolio integrates systems for collision avoidance, operator alertness, personal protection and vehicle intervention. HxGN MineProtect Collision Avoidance System (CAS) is used in more than 50,000 vehicles worldwide. It protects drivers and equipment with 360-degree operator awareness via a non-intrusive cabin display unit for vehicles, assets and operators in open pit mines.

The first generation of CAS was inspired in 2008 by a similar solution for the gliding industry. Since then, new versions have improved with additional communications capabilities. While the older generation of CAS is still fully functional, newer and faster technologies are now available that the older generation cannot support.

Hexagon’s next-generation collision avoidance system comprises simply a five-inch display and a smart antenna housing GPS, RF, WiFi, LTE and Ultra-Wide Band Timo of Flight technology.

Hexagon continually works with customers to improve its products. The consensus among CAS users was that reducing the number of hardware components would make installation and maintenance easier and improve the ordering and supply-chain process.

In March 2022, Hexagon launched the next generation of CAS. Known as CAS 10, the solution comprises only a smart antenna and a five-inch display for the cabin. The smart antenna integrates GPS, RF, WiFi, LTE, Ultra-Wide Band Time of Flight technology in a single device, reflecting Hexagon’s Power of One approach.

Mine safety and Hexagon’s Power of One

The Power of One is the culmination of Hexagon’s push to empower digital transformation by consolidating and connecting sensors and software, infield apps and cloudware. So, one multi-functional smart antenna not only incorporates CAS, but also supports systems for operator alertness, fleet management and operator assist, among others.

This allows multiple Hexagon solutions to share one antenna, reducing the cost of ownership while facilitating maintenance. In a single display, the software integrates information from CAS, radars and HxGN MineProtect Personal Alert, the industry’s first accident-avoidance device worn by field personnel using the reliability and precision-location technology.

CAS connects to a web-based reporting and analytics platform that adds a powerful layer of safety to MineProtect. It monitors and controls critical risk events by connecting data sources via live dashboards, visualizing all aspects of CAS.

CAS 10’s modern UI/UX is consistent with Hexagon’s other on-board solutions, creating a better driving experience, reduced deployment and training time, reduced supply chain complexity and increased operator adoption.

Connecting autonomous ecosystems

Almost all Hexagon products on a vehicle require GNSS positions for their services. At many mines you’ll see several GNSS antennas serving almost the same functionality mounted on vehicles. Hexagon’s smart antenna shares this data with other devices, consolidating the hardware to be installed.

Hexagon’s focus on connecting autonomous ecosystems can support all mining companies, regardless of their operational maturity. CAS and the role it plays in the MineProtect portfolio is a good example.

Firstly, MineProtect Operator Alertness System (OAS) can combat fatigue and fatigue-related events. Secondly, incidences can be reduced using CAS, which can be upgraded to at-level mine automated vehicle intervention. MineProtect Vehicle Intervention System (VIS) can take control of the vehicle when the operator does not react appropriately to a CAS alarm.

Thirdly, CAS can help mines introduce autonomous solutions by safely assisting the interactions between human drivers and autonomous vehicles.

Consensus among CAS users was that reducing the number of hardware components would make installation and maintenance easier and improve the ordering and supply-chain process. The newly released CAS 10 features just two components.

 

How CAS 10 is unique among competitors

CAS 10 has adopted the major technology advancements of the past years on communication, sensor and positioning technology from the automotive and electronics industry. This includes a high-precision GPS module, which not only improves safety capabilities but enhances operator adoption.

Hexagon focused on user interactions and how vehicle operators absorb information from an on-board safety device to increase situational awareness and safety. CAS 10’s new LCD display incorporates this operator focus with a newly created UI/UX design. Other improvements include touch capability, high brightness, and high-volume speakers made for the mining environment. The new design will help the operator make better decisions in traffic.

Besides GPS, CAS 10 features a collision avoidance algorithm that has been improved and refined for more than 12 years. The integration with Hexagon radars and Personal Alert offers an unparalleled level of safety.

Hexagon has always focused on tackling the major reasons for accident risks in mines. Two thirds of all accidents in mines are either due to blind spots or operator fatigue, hence the success of CAS and OAS. Personal Alert features our radars for vehicle-to-people and vehicle-to-object detection. MineProtect is a one-stop-shop for safety and CAS 10 is at the core of its technologies.

Mining safety and the importance of change management

CAS 10 is a standalone solution and does not require any infrastructure to protect the operator. WiFi or LTE is required for CAS 10 to connect to Hexagon’s web-based reporting and analytics platform.

Collision warning systems are important but only part of the answer. Our customers understand that to take zero harm seriously, they also need an enterprise solution to transform safety data into actionable intelligence; backed by a proven change management methodology to ensure a meaningful safety culture prevails.

CAS was already the market-leader among collision avoidance systems. CAS 10 advances the technology by consolidating even more functionality into fewer parts: one smart antenna and one display.

Hexagon believes that investing in safety need not be at the expense of productivity. In fact, it’s the most valuable investment a mine can make. CAS 10 embodies this sound investment, integrating several sensors in one powerful platform that will protect miners and their equipment. CAS 10 is a landmark enabler for next-generation autonomy, offering mines a uniquely intelligent approach.

Most importantly, everyone gets home safely.

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