Autonomously connecting ecosystems can boost mine safety

No-go zones are identified in IDS GeoRadar’s IBIS Guardian software, which creates geofenced zones and hazards maps, and is correlated with radar alarms

MINE SAFETY ECOSYSTEM No-go zones are identified in IDS GeoRadar’s IBIS Guardian software, which creates geofenced zones and hazards maps, and is correlated with radar alarms

31st July 2020

By: Cameron Mackay

Creamer Media Senior Online Writer


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Mining solutions provider Hexagon and its subsidiary, IDS GeoRadar, announced the release of the mining industry’s first straightforward integration of systems for safety and radar-based slope stability hazards last month.

Hexagon’s Mining Division chief technical officer Rob Daw states that this integration is an ideal example of the company’s wider strategy, which is to autonomously connect technology ecosystems and bring together previously siloed processes in one platform to significantly boost mine health and safety.

“The additional layer of information created by this integration means better risk evaluation and is one more way of ensuring everyone gets home safely. Like its customers, Hexagon believes that a mine’s most precious assets are the people who make mining possible,” he enthuses.

The platform is part of the newly released HxGN MineProtect Collision Avoidance System (CAS) 4.6. It enables mines to receive real-time equipment visualisation with timely alerts about hazardous areas for people and machinery.

Workers and equipment are, therefore, protected from injury-threatening events by being forewarned of no-go zones.

No-go zones are identified in IDS GeoRadar’s IBIS Guardian software, which creates geofenced zones and hazards maps, and is correlated with radar alarms.

Guardian’s integration with CAS 4.6, and complementary HxGN MineProtect solutions, personal alert and tracking radar, ensures that alarms are automatically triggered when a no-go zone is approached.

“Since IDS GeoRadar became part of Hexagon in 2016, customers have asked us to integrate leading solutions, such as slope monitoring radars and collision avoidance systems,” informs Daw.

Owing to this, he adds, linking slope monitoring data from the company’s radars with positional data from vehicles, machines and equipment crossing those slopes has been one of the company’s main goals since 2016.

The IDS GeoRadar systems were developed in-house by the company’s software development team at company headquarters in the US and Italy.

The safety portfolio and its core pillars of operator awareness, safety analytics and integration, are being developed by teams in Switzerland, the US and Australia.

Daw emphasises that despite the technical challenges that arose in the development and integration of these solutions, the close interaction between development teams, who shared the common goal of “smooth integration”, allowed for these challenges to be met.

However, the final stages of testing the integrated slope monitoring and collision-avoidance system coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, which made the testing process difficult, owing to logistical challenges.

Daw points out that Hexagon’s strong ties to its hosts regions, as well as the customers in those regions, combined with the necessary tools to work remotely, helped the company to minimise risks and complete the integration of the systems.

Global Reach

Daw affirms that these integrated slope monitoring radars and collision avoidance systems are receiving strong demand from mining industries globally.

“In Asia-Pacific, Latin America, North America, Europe and the Middle East, the integration of slope monitoring and collision-avoidance systems has become a global standard. IDS GeoRadar and Hexagon division have a strong presence in these regions,” asserts Daw.

Additionally, Hexagon is working with mines in the central, southern, and western regions of Africa, which includes bringing these systems into operation at several gold mines operating in West Africa.

The company has also opened offices in Casablanca, in Morocco, and Accra, in Ghana, to meet the demand of customers and their projects.

Daw adds that components of the integrated system are also being used at more than a dozen mines in South Africa.

He confirms that Hexagon’s Mining division has grown its market share in South Africa by more than 50% over the last two-and-a-half years. Hexagon’s geology, planning, fleet management, safety and slope-monitoring businesses are covered by integrated offices located in one Centre of Excellence for Mining in Johannesburg.

“We find that South Africa, and Africa in general, are leading the way on some technologies, including slope monitoring, vehicle intervention methods such as autobraking, and collision avoidance,” he states.

He adds that technology adoption of this nature can depend on many social, safety and economic factors.

As an example, Africa is severely affected by weather, which makes slope-monitoring a valuable service. Many countries in Central and West Africa also use long shift-work and fly-in, fly-out staff, which similarly makes fatigue monitoring vital.

Other markets, such as Australia, face significant labour shortages and high labour costs associated with autonomous haulage.

“We use a framework – called Serious About Safety – through partnerships with companies, such as operations consultants Proudfoot, to drive safety initiatives at mines. We see customers that want to be safety leaders and are committed to operational safety programmes as a growth opportunity,” Daw concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor



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