Introducing Personal Alert

Guest blogger, Marcos Bayuelo, Safety Product Manager

In the first of a two-part blog, Marcos Bayuelo explains how Hexagon Mining responded to calls from clients and the industry for improved protection for mine personnel working on foot.

Mines are busy, noisy, and dangerous places. Collisions involving equipment and people are a perennial concern for all mining operations. Truck-based safety systems, such as radars, warn drivers of potential collisions, but they do not acknowledge or alert people on the ground. Until now!

HxGN Personal Alert (Personal Alert) closes this gap and adds a powerful layer of protection to our safety suite. It’s based on the same proven approach of our Collision Avoidance System (CAS): three safety zones employing highly intuitive ascending alarms.

Personal Alert is a small accident-avoidance device worn by field personnel. Using Time of Flight technology in the Ultra-Wide Band frequency, it communicates with a system of detectors anchored to vehicles equipped with CAS. Anyone working around heavy machinery will now be visible using Personal Alert. Operators will “see” anyone within 50 meters of their vehicle, thus eliminating blind spots.

Personal Alert is the result of work undertaken by our product development team in Switzerland, in collaboration with Hexagon AB’s Machine Control division and customers. The Swiss team is integral to our mission to shape a digital mine and Personal Alert certainly meets the highest quality standards, for which Swiss engineering is known. Client feedback allowed us to focus on meeting customer requirements in the most rigorous and demanding mining environments: the goal, to protect people and equipment, reduce the risk of incidents, and avoid accidents.

To create Personal Alert, we broke the project down into seven stages.

  • Identifying customer challenges and specifying product requirements
  • Advance technology selection
  • Product development and CAS Integration
  • Proving the technology (Proof of concept)
  • Prototypes approval
  • Field trial
  • Product release

During the development process, we listened to customers while consulting our experienced global services’ teams. This helped us to apply the best feature implementations to heavy machinery, operators, and pedestrians. The goal was to increase safety and exceed customer requirements without affecting production.

The innovation and evolution behind Personal Alert is shown below.

HxGN Personal Alert development process, Introducing Personal Alert

As prototypes became hardware, enthusiasm grew. Finally, after exhaustive advance technology laboratory tests performed in Denmark and Switzerland, Personal Alert was born. One of our CAS customers, seeking to mitigate the risk between vehicles and personnel, contacted us to implement Personal Alert. This is a testament to the trust in Hexagon Mining’s safety platform. Production for a large-scale trial in South Africa began and expectations were high.

Personal Alert empowers customers by connecting people and machinery. Staff are protected from the risk of accidents involving heavy machinery. Drivers and pedestrians are safer using a device that they can hear, see, and feel. Pedestrian can now act regardless of vehicle operators.

Better yet, everyone wearing a tag in the range of Personal Alert-enabled vehicles, can transmit their location for tracking in the dispatch office.

It’s one more way Hexagon Mining is serious about safety.

Next week, in “Part 2, Making Safety Personal,” Marcos Bayuelo describes how Personal Alert works, and how it was tested. 

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