A first-of-its-kind Luminator cap lamp set to eliminate the hazards of reduced visibility in South African underground mining operations was officially launched in June 2014 by MSA Africa.

MSA invented the first electric cap lamp in 1918, in a bid to counter the high numbers of underground mining fatalities caused by open flame lamps that were exposed to high levels of combustible methane. MSA has remained a front runner in cap lamp innovation, with the locally developed Luminator being the latest international breakthrough in response to local market needs.

MSA Africa Sub-Saharan sales leader José Peral notes that the Luminator sets itself apart from all other cap lamps in the world, as it features a number of groundbreaking innovations which are set to dramatically improve visibility and personal safety for South African underground miners.

“A major feature is that it enhances the miner’s ability to more effectively detect cracks on hanging walls, which usually represent signs of ground falls and roof collapse. By swiftly identifying these cracks, miners save valuable seconds and are able to evacuate in the event of a rock fall,” he states.

This improved visibility is made possible by two state-of-the-art LEDs. The working beam is emitted by an OSLON SSL 150 high class LED and works through an internal reflection and refraction lens, which creates homogenous and halo free light. In combination with its colour temperature, identifying cracks on hanging walls or seam layers is simplified with the MSA Luminator cap.

An easy-to-find functionality button allows the user to switch between three modes, namely; working light narrow beam, peripheral light and walking light. MSA Africa product manager Tshepo Lebona points out that the walking light feature adds to overall worker safety.

“The extended walking light illuminates the two-step walking distance in front of the user, which increases the worker’s comfort and underground safety by reducing injuries caused by tripping or slipping due to insufficient light,” he explains.

The Luminator cap lamp also boasts MSA’s LiFePO¬4 Lithium-Ion battery pack technology, which ensures that working light is able to run for more than 36 hours – well above the industry average of 24 hours. It also provides an additional 100 hours of emergency light, which is essential, as trapped miners are provided with sufficient light to make their way to a safe area to await rescue.

Lebona continues: “The LiFePO¬4 battery pack is protected against deep discharge and has a cycle life of 1 000 discharge and charge cycles, with the battery capacity maintaining up to 80 percent nominal capacity. A Luminator cap lamp that has been used for a 12 hour shift can be recharged within four hours, while a fully flat battery can be recharged within ten hours.”

The MSA Luminator cap lamp also features an innovative and world-first cable management solution that can be easily adjusted between 1 m and 1,6 m to minimise the risk of hooking on to obstacles that may cause serious injury to the miner. Lebona adds that the lightweight and comfortable design is another feature of the MSA Luminator cap lamp. “The headpiece weighs only 160 g, ensuring user comfort over an extended period,” he explains.

According to Peral, the MSA luminator cap lamp can be easily clipped onto any type of hardhat, and each unit comes standard with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag that can be used for asset control. “The positioning of the luminator cap lamp also allows for enough clearance to attach earmuffs to the helmet, if necessary.”

As part of the stringent safety requirements set out by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), the Luminator cap lamp has undergone a total of 80 000 hours of field testing at underground mining projects operating in the local coal, platinum and gold sectors.

Peral states that the MSA luminator cap lamp has undergone additional tests to ensure that it can withstand harsh operating conditions. “It is able to withstand multiple 3 m drops onto a concrete surface without loss of performance, while a combination of impact-resistant polycarbonate and elastic on the moulded thermoplastic Elastomer ensures protection against dust and water.”

The MSA Group is celebrating its 100th anniversary as the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality safety products in 2014, and this significant milestone is being celebrated in South Africa through the official launch of the Luminator cap lamp.

“The Luminator cap lamp was designed with the South African mining industry in mind, as it is comprised of a large number of underground mines that operate using advanced global technology. MSA identified the need to add value to this sector’s safety technology through the development of the advanced Luminator cap lamp,” Peral concludes.

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