Collision Avoidance in the underground mine has been in the spotlight for some time following several potentially avoidable accidents, involving operators and mobile fleet. My questions to suppliers about underground collision avoidance have on occasion, been rebuffed by complex questions around specific requirements. Whilst this is solid dialog to discuss exactly what deliverables I may be searching for – it often doesnt outline what issues these particular systems can deliver.
Epiroc has developed a system, within the heart of the mining fleet, to deliver collision avoidance to mines utilising third party RFID/Bluetooth sensors for vehicle and personnel tracking.
The interface allows for third party systems to communicate with Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, in a completely new way. This enables a third party Proximity Detection System (PDS) added to the vehicle, when needed, taking interventional control of the machine to prevent accidents.
The Collision Avoidance System (CAS) Interface, when coupled with a PDS, helps to detect objects in the collision risk area, evaluate the collision risk level and take interventional actions to avoid the potential collision. The system works on the understanding that all machines and all persons in the mine are equipped with tags or sensors. A CAS installation is intended to assist with operator perception of potential hazards around the machine and prevention of potential incidents where operators cannot respond in time, however the overall responsibility for safe operation of the machine remains with the operator.
“With safety first and always in mind, I am proud to see the release of the Collision Avoidance System interface. This improves safety underground in a groundbreaking way,” says Daniel Sandström, Global Product Manager-Minetruck, in Epiroc’s Underground division.
The CAS interface is now released and can be ordered for the complete Epiroc RCS Loader fleet as well as for Minetruck MT42 and soon thereafter for the Minetruck MT65. Customers have been pleased with the performance and functionality of the Epiroc CAS Interface and are beginning to grasp the magnitude of the work involved in implementing such a system.
Moving forward, Kumeshan Naidu can see further potential: “Solutions like Mobilaris On-Board can augment a mine’s efforts to ensure safety, as well as create a more “natural” state of awareness that underground operators can respond to. With an interface that is more familiar to the operator, who typically drives commercial vehicles (GPS, Waze, Google Maps), their reflex is to naturally avoid a potential unwanted event from occurring. An operator or pedestrian that is equipped with real time information about their surroundings, through systems like Mobilaris’s MMI, On-board and Pocket Mine, will be better suited to promote a safe working environment. One in which the CAS slow down and stop functionality is a last resort in preventing collision events.”
It will be interesting to monitor how the large OEMs continue to work collision avoidance into their machines for underground use. This step by Epiroc makes for a compelling value add if visibility of fleet both in the mine control center and at the mining face is required. Integration into the core of the fleet makes perfect sense, as better informed decisions can be made by operators who are empowered by precise and timely data.
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