Flame-proofing mining utility vehicles

Paul Boughton

Protecting operator safety in explosive gas and dust, and fiery coal environments.

Manitou South Africa has adapted its Maniscopic telescopic handlers to feature a much lower risk of sparking or over-heating in dangerous environments, where finely dispersed coal dust or gases can fuel explosions or fires under certain conditions.

“We realised that one of the main causes of mine fires was that operators sometimes fail to shut down machines correctly,” says Lindsay Shankland, Managing Director, Manitou South Africa. “Now advanced safety shutdown systems, fool-proof procedures and fireproof warning alarms ensure the safest possible shutdown cycles every time.”[Page Break]

The company’s Project Engineer, Jannie Smith, has developed a series of similarly practical and dependable flame-proofing technologies that have seen the rise of a range of flame-proof mining utility vehicles (MUVs) and skid steer loaders.

The company has also introduced stainless steel flame traps to exhausts, and has started fitting electrical gauges separately from mechanical gauges in the dashboard as an extra precaution. Hydraulic starter motors are also favoured over electric variations.

Design adaptations to intake manifolds and fuel pumps, and the inclusion of an air blast oil cooling system further eliminate some of the risks associated with stray sparks and oil or fuel leaks and overheating.[Page Break]

Manitou’s skid steer loaders have also been adapted for better flame-proofing for safer operation in hazardous environments. These machines have features such as fume filters and diluters help to keep underground air quality high, and improve compliance with European Union and American EPA requirements as per Mines and Work Act regulations.

There is a call for a rapid improvement in the health and safety of the mining sector, particularly in South Africa, where mine deaths have increased during the first half of 2012. It is the stated aim of South Africa's Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant, that there should have been a reduction of 20 per cent.[Page Break]

Mr Oliphant has recently announced that the South African Government is taking steps to ensure that the industry complies with health and safety laws.

"Our biggest concern remains safety measures in the mining sector ... companies need to balance increased demand with the need for improved safety within their operations," he said.
Fig. 1. The Maniscopic MT 732, with a lifting capacity of 3.17 tonnes and an ability to be armed with a wide variety of attachments, is exceptionally versatile on any mining site.

Fig. 2. Manitou machinery features advanced operator safety with roll over protection, which makes it ideal for underground operation.




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