Internet of Things solutions provider Orbcomm has seen a noticeable increase in mining companies requesting in-vehicle video solutions for their earthmoving and bulk handling equipment.
Orbcomm Africa sales VP Henry Smith notes that, since the company launched this solution late last year, there has been a significant uptake by the mining sector. He suggests that the stringent mine health and safety requirements are the main driver of this trend, as this solution provides real-time, impartial accounts of any incident or potential incident involving heavy machinery.
“For example, should the collision avoidance system set off an alarm in the control room, the controller can monitor the appropriate in-cab/rear/front camera to observe the situation.”
He notes that the foremost benefit of the camera system is the accuracy of the information in any incident report based on its footage. “Our brains are hardwired to protect us. This means that, when people try to recall a traumatic incident, they only remember what the brain allows them to remember. With video and audio recording, the mine management can view the incident from many angles – if there are multiple cameras – to see what, if any, evasive action was taken to avoid said incident.”
He adds that the footage, combined with the telematics data provided by Orbcomm’s Sky Q application – which can monitor speed and braking, as well as other machine functions – creates a clear, impartial record of events leading up to, during, and following an incident.
Smith points out that the footage can be used for insurance purposes. Additionally, it can be used as a coaching tool, with drivers viewing files and either learning from mistakes or learning appropriate techniques and behaviour.
Orbcomm’s 24/7 Vehicle Camera Surveillance system includes cameras to monitor behind, in front and around the vehicle, with in-cab audio to enable analysis, verification and monitoring of communication and other cabin sounds.
The solution is suited to fleet operators, heavy machinery and plant vehicles, as well as emergency and public transport vehicles. Smith comments that the Vehicle Camera Surveillance system uses global system for mobile communications (GSM) 3G or 4G networks to relay data and Orbcomm offers remote hard disk capacities between 500 GB and 1 TB, and up to 180 days of recordings.
Extensive Solution Offering
Smith stresses that Orbcomm’s commitment to developing solutions specifically for yellow plant machinery is one of the primary reasons why seven of the top ten heavy machinery original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) use its products and services.
He explains that most of its local competitors are dedicated fleet management companies that happen to install their hardware onto heavy machinery, whereas Orbcomm is committed to developing heavy equipment solutions, with its own satellite network to support these solutions.
Smith notes that proof of this commitment is the PT 7000, which was released last year. The company designed and developed the PT 7000 – a rugged dual-mode communication tracking and monitoring device – specifically for heavy equipment, as it had yet to find suitably rugged, fast and intelligent hardware for this application.
“With all the hardware we’d observed, the devices were always 80% there. Either they weren’t rugged enough, or they weren’t fast enough, or they didn’t have satellite connectivity, and so on. So we developed the hardware in-house.”
The PT 7000 enables complete visibility and more efficient operation of heavy equipment by providing access to real-time data and analytics. It provides accurate and timely status information along with key operational metrics so that OEMs, dealers and end-users can proactively manage their fleet.
Smith comments that one of the key benefits of the PT 7000 is its dual-mode communication, which can switch over to satellite networks if GSM coverage is unavailable. “While GSM coverage is currently the most cost-effective option, as you enter the opencast pit you lose coverage, interrupting the flow of data. Our hardware dynamically switches to satellite communication when GSM is unavailable – providing uninterrupted data flow – and, importantly, we offer unified airtime billing, so customers don’t need to be concerned about paying two different bills.”
The PT 7000 forms part of a comprehensive telematics solution that includes sensors, connectivity and Web applications, such as Sky Q, which is an asset management application that enables visibility and control of several assets across multiple hardware platforms.
Sky Q has several customisable fields including driver and vehicle behaviour reporting, and productivity management and reporting. Smith notes that the Sky Q software solution features a fully programmable interface and an open source database, providing seamless application for third-party software integration.
Smith states that hardware or software on its own is not a solution. “The combination of the two is where the value lies.” He notes that Orbcomm’s ability to offer end-to-end solutions is part of what differentiates it from competitors. “We own the hardware, the middleware and the user interface, which means that we can make adaptations to any of these components to cater to the client’s needs.”
Further, he comments that the company’s ability to adapt to the changing technological environment has been integral to its success. “Our business model has matured as the heavy-machinery industry has developed. Two decades ago, we fundamentally provided satellite airtime. Today, we provide end-to-end solutions, from hardware to connectivity management as well as front-end and business intelligence,” Smith concludes.