More frequent government-ordered safety stoppages on mines, which demand a halt to a mine’s entire operation, highlight the need for a system that detects potential collisions underground and alerts personnel of dangerous situations, according to Booyco Electronics continuous improvement manager, Jaco du Plessis.

The Chamber of Mines recently reported that South African platinum producers had experienced three times as many ‘Section 54’ stoppages by the Department of Mineral Resources in 2016 than previous years; the cost of safety stoppages for the industry as a whole were estimated at R4,8 billion in 2015, up from R2,6 billion in 2012, the report said.

Du Plessis says that Booyco Electronics’ Proximity Detection System (PDS) has built a reputation for helping mines protect their most important asset: its people.

“The PDS is designed to allow for intervention where a potentially dangerous situation exists between a pedestrian and a machine,” he says. “Consisting of a sensing device that detects the presence of an object in a working area, the system can provide an audible and visual alarm to both the equipment operator and pedestrians as they enter danger zones.”

Warning zones can be specified to suit the requirements of specific mine areas, and standardised to a particular type of equipment.

“PDS technology also makes it possible to locate pedestrians and vehicles underground, which enhances production efficiencies and facilitates the locating of people and machinery in an emergency,” Du Plessis explains. “Data from the system can be analysed and patterns identified, so that unsafe behaviour can be detected and safety interventions initiated.”

He says the PDS was developed as part of the Booyco Electronics Asset Management System (BEAMS) that provided underground and surface mining operations with a web-based application and robust database to optimise mine safety and ensure compliance to relevant legislated requirements.

“A comprehensive asset management system should allow data to be accessed at any point in time,” he says. “This access to real-time information enables operations to make better-informed decisions and avoid potentially harmful incidents. Critically, this information must also be available after an event, as it can be invaluable in tracing and identifying possible root causes.”

He also highlights the importance of asset monitoring in optimising mine operations and increasing productivity.

“Essentially, BEAMS is a central information hub that links the company’s proximity detection hardware products and monitoring devices, capturing and recording data together,” he says. “This provides a reliable single source of information that can be leveraged for greater insight into all aspects of the operation.”


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