real-time monitoring for mine safetyHazard prevention and emergency response activities in mining are often hampered as result of challenges such as working areas that are difficult or time consuming to reach, as well as poor communication options in underground mining environments. Radio communication and manual monitoring are two of the methods traditionally used, but neither is suitable if an operation is intent on responding quickly to identified hazards or incidents. The answer lies in real time monitoring and communication of information.

Network applications for real-time monitoring

Modular network applications have been proven highly successful for implementing real-time operations management in rugged mining environments, even in deep mine systems where Line of Sight (LoS) is almost non-existent. Such remote monitoring systems make use of wireless network systems that monitors both machinery and mine workers (equipped with location monitoring tags) and logs time and date stamped data with a master controller. A web interface makes reports available from the data hosted on the master controller to provide for on demand location searches and can be configured to send automatic notifications to relevant individuals as specific (hazardous) conditions are occurring.

Real-time mining reports

Examples of reports that can be accessed on demand or programmed for instant delivery to individuals include:

  • Asset/Employee zone movement
  • Asset/Employee zone transition movement
  • Asset-Employee activity within a zone
  • Asset workflow
  • Tag maintenance reports (missing tag, low battery etc.)
  • Condition of Tag Controller

Safety benefits of monitoring equipment and workers

  1. Real-time reporting on the location of workers to relevant individuals can highlight and prevent potential hazards such as zone movement that might have fatal consequences for a worker.
  2. In times of emergency every second counts. Reliable tracking information makes it possible to immediately locate workers who are reported missing during shaft clearance procedures or in times of emergency incidents such as tunnel collapse in deep mine systems.
  3. Proactive response to breakdowns. The monitoring of equipment paired with diagnoses and prediction alarms makes it possible to predict trouble with equipment making it possible to prevent malfunctions that can lead to safety incidents.
  4. Early warning system for operations and safety. Monitoring systems that enable Real-time Location Systems (RTLS) ensures that alerts are communicated to relevant individuals based on their proximity to the incident. Not only does this allow repair crew to respond but it also warns workers with inadequate protective gear to steer clear of the hazardous area.

real-time mining operations monitoring

Real-time monitoring improves productivity

While the safety benefits of real-time monitoring and communication technology is surely enough to convince any health and safety representative of the value of such a system, mining managers who are responsible for achieving productivity targets are guaranteed to be impressed as well. It is self-evident that real-time equipment monitoring systems benefit productivity, flow and the quality of operations.

In a nutshell:

Mining Operations face very specific challenges in terms of insuring a safe work environment. One way in which mining companies can address the challenge of safety is through real-time monitoring of operations that allows for proactive response in case of potential hazards and efficient rescue operations in times of emergency. In addition, the quality information made available by such a system in real-time, communicated to the right people, offers tremendous value to operations that rely on their equipment to achieve productivity targets.

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Underground Mine Safety