Todd Ruff reports on how a smart safety system for water trucks is also delivering impressive productivity data
A large South American surface mine is using an innovative combination of collision avoidance technology, sensor monitoring and tracking/reporting functionality to deliver cost-effective and timely vehicle productivity data.
The mine approached Hexagon Mining because it needed to conduct a productivity analysis to improve the efficiency of its water trucks. Water pump status on each truck was to be monitored, along with vehicle location and speed, which then needed to be transmitted to a central server for storage, analysis and report generation.
The mine runs 35 water trucks on site to control dust. It’s a priority for the mine and efficient use of these water trucks plays a critical role in the mine operation and in relationships with neighbouring communities. The mine wanted to determine how much time the water trucks were idle, how much time was spent watering the roads, where the watering was occurring and at what times of day/night. This would require tracking the location of the trucks in near real-time along with the status of the pump that discharges water from the tank. This would assist in planning and optimisation.
Vehicles at this mine are outfitted with the SAFEmine traffic awareness and collision avoidance system (CAS). In addition to increasing operator awareness and reducing vehicle collisions, this system has the ability to track vehicle location and status, and transmit this to a server via cellular (GSM) or WiFi data communications using the SAFEmine Track service. The CAS main processing unit can also connect analogue and digital sensor inputs, and this data can be transmitted and stored using Track.
The mine conducted a pilot study of six trucks to demonstrate the ability of the SAFEmine CAS processing unit to collect and transmit water truck usage data. This was accomplished using the SAFEmine Track real-time vehicle tracking and reporting application.
To determine the usage of the water trucks, the following data from the vehicle was transmitted to the Track server via the internet: vehicle location, speed, heading; and water pump and valve on/off status from the control panel (12V inputs connected to digital I/O on SAFEmine MainUnit).
This data was collected every 30 seconds for each water truck and reports were generated to summarise their activity.
The initial results from this project have provided the information necessary for management to monitor and control water truck usage and refilling activities. Operations managers used mobile phones to receive real-time alerting using the SMS texting ability of SAFEmine Track, which allowed them to be notified of truck inactivity. Production managers used the automatic summary reports the system generates to optimise dust control activities, truck usage, and refill status of water supply points.
Installation of SAFEmine’s collision avoidance technology with cellular or WiFi communications capabilities, in combination with the SAFEmine Track web-based application, is allowing the mine to track and monitor water truck activity to improve usage and efficiency. This solution represents a sophisticated combination of collision avoidance, sensor monitoring, and tracking/reporting functionality, providing cost effective and timely vehicle productivity data in addition to traffic safety.
With more than 20,000 systems installed at mining operations worldwide, SAFEmine’s intelligent traffic awareness and collision avoidance technology considerably increases situational awareness for operators. Adding SAFEmine Track vehicle location tracking and reporting services can extend those benefits to optimise mine planning and operations.
Todd Ruff is Hexagon Mining’s safety product manager.