Underground mine man–machine interface enters market

28th March 2013

By: Chantelle Kotze


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Electronic safety equipment specialist Booyco Electronics, a supplier of colli-sion warning systems to the South African mining industry reports that its newly developed CWS 900 collision intervention system is currently being tested at a coal mining operation in the Witbank area.

Booyco Electronics MD Anton Lourens tells Mining Weekly that the company aims to have final sign-off on the product soon, before launching it onto the market.

Historically, there was insufficient inter-action between personnel and machines in South Africa’s underground mining situ-ations, which has resulted in a high number of accidents, he says.

In response to this, the South African Chamber of Mines (CoM) implemented a dedicated occupational health and safety team for the mining industry to drive the adoption of leading safety practices throughout the industry, including the implementation of collision intervention systems to manage the challenge of underground mine accidents.

Booyco Electronics’ CWS 900 collision intervention system is the new-generation ver-sion of the company’s CWS 800 system, which was launched in 2008 as a single underground and surface mining solution for pedestrian-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-vehicle detection.

The CWS 900 is a two-way detection system for close-proximity detection (pedestrians) and longer-range detection of vehicles. The intervention system components are fitted to workers’ mine lamps and to underground vehicles.

The CWS 900 consists mainly of low- frequency senders and receivers, a control device and an intervention interface which generates a magnetic field around the track- less underground vehicle or piece of equipment.

Lourens explains that the system works in conjunction with the equipment carried by a miner, such as a headlamp.

“Every miner’s headlamp is fitted with a low-frequency headlamp receiver module. When the receiver is triggered by the magnetic field generated by the vehicle or piece of equipment, it responds with an audible and visual signal,” he explains. The magnetic field size is generally determined by the mine and can be up to 15 m in radius.

The system can detect when workers are too close to equipment or vehicles by sending an audible and visual alarm to the equipment operator and pedestrian.

The collision intervention system can be configured to interact with the vehicle’s brakes to rapidly bring it to a complete halt to avoid an accident.

Lourens notes that, since its launch in 2008, the CWS 800 has been well received and that about 2 500 mine vehicles have been equipped with the system.

“We would like to match or, better yet, improve these results with the new-generation CWS 900 when it is launched,” he adds.

The collision intervention systems are suited to all underground mining operations, including gold, coal, platinum, diamonds and base metals, and can be fitted to all under-ground machinery or vehicles.

Booyco Electronics’ collision intervention systems are unique because of their low-frequency signalling. The low-frequency devices can penetrate through rock, which makes them effective in underground mining environments.

The system, while being partially manu-factured in Germany and in South Africa, is patented in South Africa.

Lourens says the trial testing of the CWS 900 entailed the full evaluation of the system’s functionality, owing to the vast improvements made in the new system’s technology and common intelligence system.

Booyco Electronics was required to demon- strate and prove the functionality of addi-tional features on the CWS 900, Lourens says.

The software improvements include various software upgrades, specifically significant proprietary protocol upgrades, while the hardware upgrades include improved control of ranges and an improved intervention interface.

“As a result, the CWS 900 has improved control in the range of proximity to pedes- trians and vehicles and a higher level of engi- neering control in the underground environ-ment,” Lourens adds.

He believes that, in the near future, most coal mines will implement the CWS 900 collision intervention system, as recommended by the CoM.

Further, he adds that Booyco Electronics believes the product will be readily accepted by the underground mining market, and expects to upgrade previous-generation units such as the CWS 800 or CWS 800 Plus collision warning systems to the new intervention system.


Edited by Megan van Wyngaardt
Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online


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