Reliable tracking in mine safetyThe physical and geographical complexity of tunnels in underground mines impairs the visibility of environment and operating assets, including human beings. Irrespective of the acuteness of locating mineral though proper mining design and planning, the hazards of the sub-terrestrial world remains unpredictable. This increases the vulnerability of the miners.

In many cases, mine safety data is still gathered manually. Someone might be doing a workplace inspection with a clipboard. Another may be plugging a handheld device into each sensor and then transfer the results to a PC via manual docking. Human error has cost mines and families a lot.

Interface

The application of technology has stepped into the mining world in many ways, and although technology may also fail, it has proven more reliable than the fallible ‘human’ factor. A safe interface between mining equipment and the worker has a definite impact on production. Both the equipment and the worker have to be protected against possible accidents. Maximizing their utilization through real time location monitoring and control can improve the mine safety and productivity to a great extent.

Similarly unauthorized intrusion of sensitive areas should be controlled ensuring protection against possible security hazards. In order to identify a potential crisis current information needs to be used. Such information must be communicated in real time, therefore demanding  a wireless communication framework that provides efficient, reliable, secure exchange and processing of relevant information.

The Profitek’s Minelert Lost Person Detection system

The Profitek’s Minelert Lost Person Detection system based on 2.45GHz technology addresses and overcomes the challenges found in RTLS technology within mining applications. It provides reliable tracking information and carries scientific evidence that 2,45 GH has the best propagation characteristics for reliable tracking accuracy. It is easy to install. No need for any RSSI site surveys. And it boasts a guaranteed battery life of over 6 years on a 4 second beacon interval.

A Profitek’s Minelert Tag Controller, with dual scanning interfaces that improve range accuracy, is normally located in zones where tags need to be sensed. The Tag Controller also features sophisticated store-and-forward technology. The Tag Controller will still persist tracking all events locally for up to 3 weeks in the event that connectivity fails, or for some reason it may disconnect from the network.

Reporting

The most advanced tracking system is of no use without a quality reporting system. ‘Prevention’ is a fundamental mine safety principle and reporting can highlight and consequentially prevent any zone movement with potentially fatal results. Reports also indicate departures and arrivals and will flag a worker who has not yet returned to the lamp room and are unaccounted for. Reports are generated on the Master Controller and can be accessed via Web Interface or sent as E-mail attachment.

These reports include:

  • Asset/Employee zone movement
  • Asset/Employee zone transition movement
  • Asset/Employee activity within a zone
  • Asset workflow
  • Tag maintenance reports
  • Condition of Tag Controller reporting

Mining companies have often been reticent to invest in non-core technology upgrades in the past, but well implemented tracking technology can make the difference between life and death. As sophisticated technologies like that of Profitek’s Minelert Lost Person Detection system mature on the market and come down in price, it seems likely they will become indispensable in safety conscious mines that are aware of their benefits in a potentially life-or-death situation.

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