3D Sensors Ensure Safe & Efficient Mobile Machines in Mines

Whether it’s dealing with extreme temperatures, dust, wind, rain, floods or exposure to sunlight, the Australian mining industry thrusts its workers and mobile machinery into some of the harshest working conditions.

Cost pressures are also a primary concern for the industry, meaning critical mobile machinery and vehicles must be able to not only withstand extremely challenging physical conditions, but perform at the highest productivity, efficiency and safety levels under them.

With Safe Work Australia’s 2013 Key Work Health and Safety Statistics placing Mining among the top 8 industries with the highest work-related injury incidence rates, Standards Australia recently released a number of revised parts of the Australian Standard AS 4024.1 series – Safety of Machinery – to align with global standards and strengthen workplace safety.

To achieve this, mining businesses need to implement effective methods of detecting vehicles, areas and objects in order to prevent vehicle collisions, worker injuries and ensure that time and space are being optimised.

This can be realised by employing ifm’s new O3M 3D sensors that provide area surveillance and detection, edge recognition, line guidance, collision prediction, distance monitoring, object recognition and reflector tracking. Ultimately, this technology will enable mining businesses to achieve the trifecta of on-site efficiency, productivity and safety.

ifm’s O3M 3D sensor is the first of its kind, with award-winning patented PMD technology forming the basis for a sensor system which ensures detection of scenes and objects with just one image capture in three dimensions and without motion blur, and the ability to cope with the harsh operating conditions of mobile machines in the mining arena. Unlike current scanner technologies, the 3D sensor does not have any moving parts ensuring performance longevity and reliability due to no wear and tear.

Collision prediction – The 3D sensor calculates a collision probability by comparing the current speed, the motion vector and breaking distance – signaling the driver. With the assistance of ifm’s mobile controllers communicating to the 3D sensor on the CANopen bus or SAE J 1939 protocol, the custom written software embedded in the controller would be capable of reacting and guiding the vehicle into a collision avoiding position.

Distance monitoring – The 3D sensor is optimised for long ranges and can detect moving objects at a distance of up to 35 metres.  The integrated distance monitoring function also provides up to 64 adjustable regions of interest (ROI) – for example, rear area monitoring.

Area surveillanceWith the 3D sensor’s ability to observe a predefined three dimensional scene, the senor is the perfect choice for area surveillance. With its complex algorithm it has the ability to distinguish between normal objects and highly reflective objects such as high visibility vests. This enables the sensor to react only when a human wearing a high visibility vest enters the scene. This function is particularly useful in applications where no humans are permitted to be in an area due to personal safety, for example when drill rigs are in operation.

By ensuring the right sensing technology is in place, mining procurement and maintenance managers can maximise their production, efficiency and safety in the long-term.

For more information on ifm’s O3M 3D sensor for mining, click here.

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