Even though we reached the 21st century, mines are still one of the most perilous working environments. According to the International Labour Organization around 1% of the world’s labor is engaged in mining and accounts for 5% of on-the-job fatalities. Thanks to technological progress safety systems for hazardous industries have become more and more sophisticated, like IDENTEC SOLUTIONS Crew Companion with a brand-new innovation for 2019.
Today, “Zero Harm” is a popular buzzword throughout the mining industry. Many initiatives have been launched: changes in the mine design, excavation monitoring, implementation of autonomous systems, explosion proof equipment etc. And even though all these impressive strides were the number of annual incidents is still too high.
Besides all the prevention measures, it is essential to consider what happens in the event of an actual emergency. A safety assistance solution is needed that offers a hundred percent reliability. With decades of on-the-job experience, IDENTEC SOLUTIONS this year launches an enhanced version of their Crew Companion, a tracking solution for personnel in the mining and tunnelling industries.
How does the Crew Companion system work?
The system offers real-time visibility of personnel throughout the mine by implementing a robust turnkey solution that divides the mine into zones. Workers are equipped with transponders that enable the system to locate them continuously. In case of an emergency the rescue coordinator can immediately identify people at risk and act accordingly.
Incidents in mines do not always need to assume alarming proportions as Mikael Winnebäck, business developer IT of LKAB, tells us: “In our underground mine in Kiruna, we have, as a rule, events of fire caused by vehicles. Then Crew Companion is of great use, not only to check how many people are in the mine, but also in which zone. It is all about retaining control to keep people safe.”
Creating value by adding more safety
As a long term partner of IDENTEC SOLUTIONS, LKAB knows that the value of the system - not only in emergency situations. Their daily work includes scheduled blasts every night to unlock new working zones. During the blasting no personnel must be in the danger zones. Crew Companion gives immediate visibility of workers located in these areas whereby they can be contacted and instructed to move to a safe area. This guarantees an uninterrupted workflow in the mine. A very important consideration, as the delay of a single blast can cause a loss of three million EUR.
Crew Companion easily scales up as the size of the mine increases. A mine like Kiruna can have as many as 600 workers per shift, while projects like the world’s largest copper mine El Teniente in Chile – also using the IDENTEC SOLUTIONS system - need to handle about 3,000 workers per shift. With an enhanced transponder and software, Crew Companion now manages 3,000+ workers with the same accuracy as before. Not only allowing to locate them within the mine, but also to register workers at access points. The access control module allows the registration of whole work groups entering/leaving the mine in buses. These improvements provide a quick and effortless commencement of work and enables automated attendance recording.
Due to a new hardware design with a lightweight ATEX certified transceiver replacing the currently used heavy steel cabinets, the installation becomes very simple and increases the flexibility to adapt and alter mustering zones.