Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2017

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Page 52 of 99

SAFETY AND TRAINING AUGUST 2017 • E&MJ 51 Mining companies have taken great strides to improve operator safety in re- cent years, and collision awareness sys- tems will likely further this trend as mine sites globally strive to achieve a zero-in- cident workplace. But while new technol- ogies can help this improvement effort, technology alone cannot be a mine's only line of defense in the goal to avoid ve- hicle collisions; sufficient training and operators that are fit for the job are also required to achieve total mine site safety. Global Drive for Improved Safety Vehicle-to-vehicle collisions are among the top five causes of high-risk incidents in mines, resulting in equipment down- time, productivity losses, equipment- and personnel-related costs, injuries, and fatalities. These factors have generated a global motivation to focus on vehicle safety within mines, including increased regulation and legislation that will soon require mining organizations to have and use a safety system that can detect and minimize vehicle collisions. South Africa, for example, recently passed legislation stating that any open- pit mine in which a collision risk is signif- icant must include a means for any "die- sel-powered trackless mobile machine" to automatically detect the presence of any other such machine within its vicinity, and upon detecting the presence of another machine, the operators in both vehicles shall be alerted to each other's presence by means of an effective warning (such as an audible and/or visual cue). Australia does not yet have legisla- tion in place, but New South Wales has pre-specified basic capabilities that mines must adhere to when their legislation is enacted. For example, a mine that re- quires Proximity Awareness Technology must utilize a system that alerts the opera- tor to a potential collision; this alert could include an audible alarm, a visual cue or both. Meanwhile, a site that requires Safe- ty Adherence Technology must implement a system that alerts operators to poten- tial hazards via an audible alarm (visual cues may also accompany this alarm), and physically stops the vehicle's forward trajectory. While many collision awareness systems do not yet have this next-level ability to stop a vehicle remotely, the glob- al demand for this capability will likely increase. Vehicle-to-person incidents also occur on mine sites, prompting increased demand for personnel detection (another next-level technology) capabilities as well. Common Challenges for Collision Awareness Systems Several collision awareness systems are available to the mining industry today, all seeking to improve operator safety. But, at this point, many challenges still com- monly exist that prevent any of them from ensuring a collision-free environment. For example, vehicle-to-vehicle com- munication is often delayed and unreli- able with existing technologies. Tradi- tional communications networks require that a signal hit numerous access points before reaching the operator or central office, delaying the notification and giv- ing the operator very little chance to af- fect the situation. In addition, collision awareness systems are complex capital investments, making them more difficult to justify in a downturned industry. But the challenge that seems most prevalent in today's collision awareness systems lies in the frequency of "false positives" (alarms that occur when no collision threat is actually present). These false alarms, also known as "nuisance alarms," often desensitize operators to actual collision risks, training them (in a sense) to adopt unsafe practices as a result of alarm annoyance. As operators realize the number and frequency of nui- sance alarms, they begin to tune out all alarms. These false positives are, by far, the most dangerous of the challenges that face collision awareness systems in the mining industry, and they're also one of the most widespread. Modular's Approach The common weakness of existing proxim- ity and collision awareness approaches on the market today is their inability to filter out events that are not actually potential vehicle collision risks. Modular Mining Systems' approach to collision awareness focuses on minimizing false alarms while providing real-time information about potential high-risk incidents. Modular's MineAlert Collision Awareness System (CAS) utilizes intelligent path prediction and scenario-based pattern recognition algorithms to filter out the potential non- risk-based nuisance and proximity alarms, helping to dramatically reduce the false alarm rate. This intelligent filtering capa- bility, coupled with a simple user interface that enables operators to make split-sec- ond decisions, increases operators' sit- uational awareness by providing critical safety information only when it matters. One of the major challenges for a col - lision awareness system is the ability to predict the actual direction a driver is Technology Alone Won't Keep Workers Safe Smart design, adequate training and an operator's fitness for the job are critical to safety success The effectiveness of collision avoidance systems hinges on their ability to filter out events that aren't actually potential collision risks, according to Modular Mining. A high number of false positives can cause a driver to ignore all such alarms.

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