INDA 2017

Best of Germany 2014 - Mining Equipment and Mining Technology

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4 INDIA 2017 Safety and Training However, with the recent announce- ment that a Midwestern U.S. technology company had offered to fit its employees with biochip hand implants to make it easier to pay for lunch, access equipment and move around controlled facilities, the trend toward wearables in the workplace has entered a new era. Although nothing like that has been reported in the mining industry, advances in wearable technolo- gy are making these devices smart enough to allow a worker to assess his or her phys- ical and mental status based on real-time brain-wave data, or to notify supervisors if the worker is unable or unwilling to do so. Australia-based SmartCap Tech recent- ly introduced the LifeBand, a follow-up product to its SmartCap, which uses sen- sors in the hatband of a purpose-built cap to conduct EEG (electroencephalography) monitoring of fatigue levels in the wearer. The LifeBand, according to the company, uses similar technology but can be fitted into any type of headwear — hardhats, caps or beanies — and will provide alert- ness readings via Bluetooth to the user's smartphone as well as to a central report- ing point, if desired. Taking Over At the other end of the technology spec- trum, larger, mine-wide systems, such as those used for dispatch and fleet manage- ment, are also becoming sophisticated enough to take control of equipment out of operators' hands if the situation warrants, based on sensor readings. For example, in June, Hexagon AB announced the launch of HxGN Mine VIS, a vehicle intervention system that detects and prevents collisions by automatically slowing down or even stopping a haul truck if an imminent collision is detected. The company said Mine VIS is an addi- tional layer of safety on top of the Collision Avoidance System, (CAS) helping to avoid incidents, injuries and fatalities. Mine VIS manages traffic in the pit and, by reacting when and if operators do not, it ensures safety rules are followed. CAS provides drivers of large vehicles with 360° prox- imity detection at any speed and in all conditions via cabin display units. It is installed in more than 25,000 vehicles in more than 60 mines worldwide. According to Hexagon, Mine VIS can take control of the machine in certain defined situations if the operator does not react appropriately to the initial CAS warning. The system can act depending on the situation, either by inhibiting pro- pulsion, activating the retarder or applying the service brake. It can also be used in conjunction with the company's fatigue-de- tection, alerting and reporting solution, FatigueMonitor — using the same sensors and user interface. Mine VIS is being installed in Anglo American Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine in South Africa, where government reg- ulations will compel surface mines to implement such systems on heavy machine equipment by June 2019. In other applications, collision avoid- ance systems can provide greater safety for operators in less-obvious ways. For example, Wenco International reported that installation of its Fleet Awareness technology at Nordgold's Bissa-Bouly gold mine in Burkina Faso is expected to help operators cope with low-visibility con- ditions arising from thick airborne dust clouds on site. Hands Off In the underground sector, mine operators are indicating greater interest in automat- ing various aspects of their loading and haulage operations to not only improve productivity but enhance worker safety and asset preservation as well. E&MJ reported earlier this year that Hecla Mining Co.'s Greens Creek operation is the first U.S. underground mine to employ Sandvik's AutoMine machine-automation technology to one of its loaders working in areas where it extracts ore by bulk longhole meth- ods, and expects to add the capability to more machines in the near future. In Australia, Pybar, an underground mining contractor, began testing a new Haul Truck Guidance system from Perth- based RCT at Aurelia Metals' Hera mine in New South Wales. According to RCT, the gold and lead/ zinc project increased productivity and reduced machine damage after equipping two of Pybar's Caterpillar AD45 ejectors with the ControlMaster system that guides the machines to loading and dump points, only requiring operator intervention when the machine is actually being loaded. Pybar COO Brendon Rouse said the system was significantly improving the company's ability to safely and efficiently direct dump waste into a stope. "The Haul Truck Guidance solution has eliminated the need for operators to steer the truck down the long drives, and the need for developing truck turnaround bays near the stope tip heads," said Rouse. "The system works in a similar way to the current [RCT] Guidance system fitted on several of Pybar's production loaders at numerous other sites." RCT's product manager, Dave Holman, said this solution evolved from the ControlMaster Loader Guidance solution. "It was specifically designed for the haul truck application after feedback from clients made us aware of the issues they were experienc- ing on site, which included costly damage bills and erratic production results," said Holman. "RCT redesigned both the hard- ware and software to suit the requirements and a close collaboration with key mining companies ensured our unique solution was addressing all areas of concern." The steering, braking and speed of the truck are automatically determined by the minimum width of the drive and the look- ahead distance of the onboard laser units. There is also an object detection feature which further assists in tight areas. "Automating the process simplifies the task of driving a haul truck long distances within tight space limitations to deliver consistent cycle times while heavily reduc- ing machine damage simultaneously," said Holman. Based on favorable results from the system's trial at Hera, Pybar reportedly is evaluating its application at other sites. SmartCap Tech recently announced a collaboration with Canada-based Newtrax Technologies to develop innovative safety solutions utilizing SmartCap's LifeBand sensor band in underground mining applications. The LifeBand is the latest in wearable tech offered by SmartCap Tech, following earlier introduction of its SmartCap fatigue-sensing and reporting system, shown here.

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