Pioneering the use of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in the mining sector, De Beers Group is successfully rolling out this safety innovation across its operations in southern Africa.
The world’s leading diamond producer places Putting Safety First Everywhere as its number one value and has been fatality-free for the past two years, according to Dr Urishanie Govender, De Beers’s group head of safety and sustainable development.
“The application of ADAS aligns with our culture of pioneering brilliance as we equip our operations for Future Smart Mining,” says Dr Govender. “This exciting initiative has provided another valuable tool for our amazing people on site who are constantly looking for ways to improve our safety performance.”
She highlights that the intervention contributes to the De Beers Group’s critical control management, one of the areas for advancement identified at the company’s regular safety summits. “Driven by the chief executive officers across the group, the specific focus areas are competence, culture, connectedness, and cultivating care to enable everyone to be ready to respond to risks.”
Head of asset strategy and reliability at De Beers Group, Meshal Ruplal, says the first phase of the ADAS initiative saw the technology being installed on buses and any vehicles that carry five or more people. In a second phase, vehicles with four passengers were fitted with the equipment. The technology comprises a range of functionality, including cameras to monitor harsh and distracted driving.
“The camera software can also check on the driver’s eyelid movements and other indicators of drowsiness, and can transmit short video clips to a control room for improved monitoring,” says Ruplal. “It can register infringements like changing lanes without indicating or crossing a solid barrier line.”
The technology – which has been well proven in the trucking industry abroad – assists the driver by checking if there is a safe distance to the vehicle in front, recognising speed limit signs and detecting whether the seat belt is being worn.
“ADAS makes an important contribution to our coaching and training activities, as the data we gather is fed back to drivers to continuously improve their performance,” he says. “Used as a proactive warning system the technology has generally received good support from drivers and their trade unions.”
He notes that De Beers Group’s contractors – who assume much of the company’s staff transportation function – have been quick to come on board and align with the ever-more stringent safety standards.
Govender emphasises the collaborative approach taken to ensure all the necessary stakeholders are together on the safety journey, requiring that contractors participate actively in the company’s efforts to leverage technology in pursuit of resilience and sustainability.