As mines work to improve the safety of their trackless operations, the starting point remains a detailed risk assessment that will guide the correct selection of technology and proximity detection systems (PDS).
“There have been too many examples of mines incurring capital expenditure on PDS solutions that are not fit-for-purpose,” says Schalk Janse van Rensburg, chief technology officer (CTO) at Booyco Electronics. “More careful planning will ensure that the solution chosen can be well integrated into the mine’s operation.”
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Janse van Rensburg highlights that PDS is a last resort in the risk management hierarchy, and that the mine safety regulations require a proper risk assessment to be done to indicate whether and how PDS will address the mine’s significant risks.
Such an assessment needs to establish design guidelines for the mine, including site requirements for TMMs, segregation controls to prevent collisions, and operating procedures. Three more levels of operational discipline control in the use of TMMs – the authority to operate, fitness to operate and operating compliance – must also be considered.
“If interventions at these six levels still cannot adequately mitigate the significant risk, then the mine must move on to consider the collision avoidance options at levels 7, 8 or 9,” he says. “At Level 7 the PDS will provide proximity awareness by alerting the driver, at Level 8 the system will advise on action to be taken, and at Level 9 the system will slow or stop the machine through engineering control.”
Assisted by the TMM operating scenarios outlined by the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Roundtable (EMERST), mines must be able to provide PDS suppliers with a tabulated scope of what they require. Once a supplier has provided a credible proposal in response, he urges mines to effectively test the solution before making a final decision.
“The process of installing PDS systems in a mine TMM fleet, and ensuring that operators use the system well, must also be well planned and carefully rolled out,” he says. “The Booyco Integrated Approach includes the technical collaboration with OEMs and on-mine staff, and working closely with operators and management alike to ensure their buy‑in and co-operation.”