Rise of the machines

Mining has well and truly entered the age of automation, and while this is a boon for productivity and efficiency, it also brings with it a number of new risks and hazards.

Much of this is down to the removal of the human element which can identify risks and take actions to avoid it.

However humans do have an option to make automated machines safer: proximity detection and collision avoidance systems.

While surface mining operations that have implemented automated systems also install proximity detection and collision avoidance systems, the risk is somewhat lessened by the greater capacity for movement from the heavy vehicles and plant equipment compared to underground operations.

When it comes to underground mining, the tighter compact operations space means that human operators must be extremely cautious when it comes to other workers around the machinery, however many automated machines don’t have this failsafe system and can pose a greater risk if they don’t have appropriate safety measures installed.

With these automated machines underground the likelihood of serious injury is increased as there is no operator to carry out emergency shut off procedures on the machines.

So how can miners make their machines safer?

Firstly by recognising the issue and then implementing systems to change it, namely high tech collision avoidance and proximity detection systems.

Countries like the US and South Africa have already made it mandatory for work sites to deploy collision avoidance and proximity detection systems to improve worker safety.

But not all systems are built to the same stringent, high tech levels as some on the market.

New, highly customisable and versatile solutions from Strata Australia, using advanced NASA technology is set to resolve the issues and aid in cutting not only fatalities, but the Lost Time Injuries associated with it.

Strata’s HazardAvert uses low frequency magnetic fields to create invisible perimeters around operating machinery, whose shape and size can be programmed during the installation of the system.

These electromagnetic market zones can be tuned to provide both ‘warning zones’ and ‘danger zones’ which can restrict vehicle movement, removing the potential for accidents to occur.

Importantly, because of its core technology it can be used in both surface and underground mines, and both coal and hard rock operations.

To find out more about how the technology is making the mine site safer, click here to download Strata’s free whitepaper on its HazardAvert product.

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