How are the Advancements in Proximity Detection and Collision Awareness Technology Affecting Mining Industry?

Enterprise Technology Review | Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The mining industry has witnessed a 51 percent rise in the number of severe claims for disease and injury in the past few years; thus, there is a need for a system that can ensure workers' safety.

FREMONT, CA: Proximity detection and collision awareness systems act like a safeguard that mine operators can implement to reduce the accidents, monitor machine movements, and mitigate risk across the site.

Proximity detection systems can enhance site safety by alerting machine operators, drivers of light vehicles, and individuals on foot to their proximity to other workers on-site through small devices fitted to the machine or worn on clothing.

Collision awareness technology informs the operators to collisions, either with other machines or assets like coal valves, stackers, and reclaimers on stockpiles when they enter an avoidance zone. Since the inception of technology, proximity detection and collision awareness solutions have become more sophisticated and comfortable.

Traditionally few systems have been known to "over alarm" or be complex to install and manage, becoming a hindrance to productivity. This kind of situation can lead to more dangerous conditions on site with machine operators and workers not treating the warnings with the same seriousness because of the high number of false alarms. 

The way to reduce these false alarms and increase the urgency and reaction to alarms is to improve accuracy. Like those by Blue Electronics, some systems have features that increase accuracy and reduce the occurrence of false alarms.

Some companies have enhanced the technology around its collision avoidance systems using SBAS and Bluetooth low energy technology, a failsafe way that covers the users if GPS drops out. Such devices can be installed in a few minutes on any machine to be swapped between plants. ±1 meter accuracy is achievable with no unique infrastructure, but for applications needing higher accuracy like stockpiles and rehabilitation, operators can upgrade the system by adding a base station and achieving ±25 millimeters. These systems are highly reliable and easy to deploy; they are a perfect option for all mine sites, large or small.