Guest Blogger, Marcos Bayuelo, Safety Product Manager
In Part 1 of our blog, Marcos Bayuelo explained how Hexagon Mining responded to calls from clients and the industry for improved protection for mine personnel working on foot. Here in Part 2, he explains the benefits of HxGN Personal Alert – a small accident-avoidance device worn by field personnel – and how it was successfully tested.
After exhaustive advance technology laboratory tests performed in Denmark and Switzerland, HxGN Personal Alert was ready for trial. A CAS customer in South Africa, seeking to mitigate the risk between vehicles and personnel, contacted us to implement the product. Expectations were high as we prepared to prove Personal Alert’s effectiveness with real miners in real mining conditions.
A dedicated team comprising Hexagon Mining’s product management, service and development engineers, together with the mine’s operation leaders worked together to establish testing protocols for Personal Alert.
We integrated the mine’s Collision Avoidance System (CAS) with Personal Alert, upgrading all trackless machinery, including haulage trucks, loaders, service trucks, and graders. This took about two hours per installation. Personal Alert tags were distributed to personnel and performance test scenarios were reiterated in a controlled environment to ensure technical features were met. Here’s a brief overview of the product:
Personal Alert overview
Personal Alert is a small accident-avoidance device worn by field personnel. Using Time of Flight technology in the Ultra-Wide Band frequency, Personal Alert communicates with a system of detectors anchored to vehicles equipped with CAS. Anyone working around heavy machinery is visible using Personal Alert. Operators will “see” anyone within 50 meters of their vehicle, thus eliminating blind spots.
Similarly, in the busy, noisy environment synonymous with mining equipment, personnel wearing a Personal Alert tag will be alerted to vehicles close by. Faced with imminent danger, pedestrians are now empowered to act, regardless of the vehicle operator.
Truck-based safety systems, such as radars, warn drivers of potential collisions, but they do not acknowledge or alert people on the ground. Personal Alert bridges this gap and adds an important layer of safety to our safety suite. It’s based on the same proven approach of CAS: three safety zones employing highly intuitive ascending alarms.
Personal Alert highlights
- Personnel detection up to 50 m and accurate distance measurement within 10 cm
- Highly configurable and adaptable awareness zones, commensurate with CAS’s 360 degrees of protection.
- Seamless integration with CAS
- Integrated CAS and Personal Alert monitoring and reporting platform
- Remote detection distances configuration
- Black-box recording for incident analysis
- Works with limited or no GNSS coverage (workshop/crusher area)
- Visual, audible, and vibratory alerts for pedestrians
- Parked vehicles alarm suppression and in-cabin detection to reduce nuisance alarms
- Wireless data back to base transfer for real-time monitoring, reporting, and analytics
Once installed, we set about verifying the technical features and proving the following benefits:
- Manage the incident risk of vehicle collisions and personnel injury
- Improve traffic safety
- Protect people, assets, and investments
- Track the fleet and personnel, and obtain detailed reports
- De-clutter operator’s cabin, increase usability
- Comply with corporate and governmental regulations
All technical features were tested to ensure proper functioning in regular mining operations.
Once testing protocols were completed and passed, we began the production environment test. Sophisticated Key Performance Indicators had to be accomplished without disrupting production goals to prove the product’s ability to function in an operational environment.
A month later, Personal Alert had achieved the expected results. All our efforts and development hours had paid off. The product is ready for release, allowing our customers to connect personnel with machinery. Now mining operations globally can minimize accidents and near misses from vehicles and personnel while increasing safety performance and safety-conscious culture with enhanced reporting and analytics.
Safety awareness is rising on both corporate and governmental levels due to legislation, high penalties for fatalities, and the possibility of operations closing. Personal Alert will allow our customers to reduce their financial risk.
In June 2017, we launched the HxGN Vehicle Intervention System, which slows down or halts a vehicle in certain situations, if the operator does not react to a CAS alarm. Personal Alert delivers an additional layer of safety for your operations: one formidable protective platform from one company that is serious about safety – Hexagon Mining.
Thanks to everyone who helped place Personal Alert on the leading edge of safety innovation, from Hexagon Mining management to all our global collaborators.