INDA 2017

Best of Germany 2014 - Mining Equipment and Mining Technology

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INDIA 2017 3 Safety and Training E&MJ spoke with Jeff Brown, CEO of Focus FS, to get an idea of what mining-in- dustry end-users may be looking for in the safety-software market. Brown, formerly with IBM, started the company, based in Newfoundland, Canada, in 2012 and recently announced a two-year collabora- tion agreement with DMC Mining Services that will employ Focus FS's mine safety soft- ware product, ShiftProcess, to develop inno- vations and improvements in DMC's safety effort. DMC Mining Services is a unit of KGHM Polska Miedz S.A., and is a major North American underground contractor with capabilities ranging from shaft sinking and raise boring to mine development and operation. The agreement between Focus FS and DMC is the second step of a two-phase relationship between the companies and will include the rollout of Focus FS systems across DMC to enhance leading indicator and predictive analytics, along with risk management, and to provide digital H&S management systems that span the organi- zation from corporate level down to each individual operating site. Brown said ShiftProcess evolved from initial efforts to develop a program for collecting and reporting safety-related data from operations in eastern Canada's grow- ing offshore oil and gas industry, which shares many of the same site characteristics found in mining, such as remote locations, harsh environments and minimal infrastruc- ture, and thus drew the attention of mining companies as well. Prior to the start of Focus FS's relationship with DMC, Brown said, the mining contractor had assessed a number of software packages designed for safety programs and found them lacking, as they seemed to be designed mainly for filling out forms to assure compliance. DMC wanted to build a safety culture that would be supported by information systems, not vice versa. With ShiftProcess, said Brown, they found an off-the-shelf software solution offering the capability to custom-configure a system that could meet their immediate and long-term safety goals. "ShiftProcess can be configured to col- lect data from specific workflows at specific sites. It doesn't force users to do things in a certain way that doesn't meet their needs, but does allow easy standardization across sites, so new operations can be up and run- ning, safety-wise, from day one," explained Brown. "We also designed it with typical mining sites in mind, where training can be difficult to schedule, particularly with oper- ations at which employees are on site for a certain number of weeks and then home for a few weeks. Data collection is straight- forward and users have access to 'cheat sheets' that quickly provide guidance." The Focus FS/DMC joint effort is in line with the overall trend in the industry as it moves from 1990s paper-based reporting and compliance systems to electronic sys- tems employing tablet-based data collection and cloud technologies. EH&S managers at several mining companies told E&MJ that the immediacy of response provided by electronic systems removes the basic flaw of paper-based systems: workers get quick responses to their safety concerns instead of long delays; and managers spend less time behind a desk, shuffling through paper- work. Electronic systems' capability for pro- viding immediate feedback helps compa- nies such as DMC that are working to forge a less management-focused environment, in favor of a safety culture based on employee engagement and accountability. This approach is gaining popularity, particularly among companies that have committed considerable time and money to safety improvement but haven't seen results in proportion to the size of their investment. During an interview with CBC News during the Ontario Mining Health and Safety con- ference held in Sudbury in April, Alistair Ross, director of mining operations for Vale Canada, said the concept of "zero harm" adopted by most mining companies may be achievable at any given moment — but the key is "how long can you make that moment last. We've found that zero harm in work environments governed solely by management systems is not achievable. Bringing in a new style of leadership makes the potential for zero harm much greater. "We need to start looking at the avail- ability of each individual to become a lead- er and contribute to the goal of zero harm," he said, noting that it takes a concerted effort from all parties — corporate and mid- dle management, unions and individuals — to recognize the opportunity and demand workers step up and take responsibility for safety concerns and policies. "If I go to work and simply 'hope' to be safe, that's insufficient," said Ross. "We all need to 'work' to be safe. If we can get better at understanding what it takes to lead and follow this model, we can generate longer periods of zero harm." Wearable Safety The trend toward greater worker involve- ment in safety and health has brought with it a growing interest in wearable safety tech. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags are increasingly being used in both personnel and asset tracking and safety applications in mining. Mojix, a California-based RFID solutions developer, pointed out that these tiny devices can contribute to safety, security and efficiency on many levels, with carefully placed RFID readers able to track the movement of all workers tagged with inexpensive, durable, lightweight tags. The RFID system can be linked with air quality sensors and blasting schedules, meaning any worker in the wrong place can be identified, contacted and removed from danger. Safety equip- ment can also be tagged, so in the event of an accident, miners can be directed to life-saving gas masks, refuge chambers and the best location for escape or rescue. The Main Management Dashboard of ShiftProcess displays performance as it relates to compliance across the mine site and the organization. Total Performance measures all work performed against a set of targets (may exceed 100%), minimum performance reports against the minimum compliance target (would not exceed 100%). Dashboards are specific to the user and their role.

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