What’s new in proximity detection and collision awareness technology

8 November 2018

According to Safe Work Australia, the mining industry has seen a 51% increase in the number of serious claims for disease and injury between 2000-01 and 2013-14. Proximity detection and collision awareness systems are the kind of safe guards that mine operators can implement to reduce accidents, keep track of machine movements and mitigate risk across the site.

Proximity detection systems can increase safety on site by alerting machine operators, drivers of light vehicles and individuals on foot to their proximity to other workers on site via small devices fitted to the machine or worn on clothing.  Collision awareness technology alerts operators to collisions, either with other machines or assets such as coal valves, stacker and reclaimers on stockpiles when they enter an avoidance zone.

Since the technology’s inception, proximity detection and collision awareness solutions have become both more sophisticated and easier to use. Historically some systems have been known to ‘over alarm’ or be very complex to install and manage, becoming a hinderance to productivity. This ‘boy who cried wolf’ situation can lead to more dangerous conditions on site with machine operators and workers not treating alarms with the same seriousness due to the high number of false alarms.

The way to reduce these false alarms and increase urgency and reaction to alarms is to improve accuracy. Some systems, such as those by Blue Electronics, have features that increase accuracy and greatly reduce false alarms. Blue Electronics has improved the technology around its collision avoidance systems with the use of SBAS and Bluetooth low energy technology, a failsafe method that covers you if GPS drops out.

According to Position Partners, Blue Electronics’ solution provider for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, the systems offer a highly modular and user-friendly solution. “The devices can be installed in a matter of minutes on any machine, heavy or light, so they can be swapped between plant,” said Andrew Granger, Position Partners Business Development Manager for Mining.

“A relative accuracy of +/- 1 metre is achievable with no special infrastructure,” he added. “However for applications requiring higher accuracy such as stockpiles and rehabilitation, operators can upgrade the system by adding a base station or our AllDayRTK network and achieve accuracies of +/- 25mm. These systems are extremely reliable and easy to deploy, they are a great option for all mine sites, large or small.”  

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