Monitech has worked closely with Sandvik to integrate its proximity detection system (PDS) in the OEM’s underground load haul dump (LHD) machines.

Sandvik’s LHD machines have been installed with the Monitech proximity detection system. Image credit: Monitech

Sandvik’s LHD machines have been installed with the Monitech proximity detection system. Image credit: Monitech

Initially, PDS legislation on trackless mining machinery (TMM) was aimed at all electrically or battery powered TMM. When that project was completed, diesel-powered TMM was next in line to be integrated with the technology. Integration of PDS on diesel-powered TMM compelled the development of a proximity detection interface (PDi) to slow down and stop the machines. Subsequently, Monitech worked closely with Sandvik to ensure smooth implementation on the OEM’s diesel LHD machines.

“Monitech’s first IntelliZone system was installed on Sandvik’s diesel machines in September 2018 and currently 87 machines have been completed and are all Level 9 compliant (non-operator intervention to slow down and stop), therefore meeting current PDS legislation as per the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR) TMM regulations published under Chapter 8 of the Mine Health and Safety Act. The implementation is ongoing,” explains JJ Venter, chief operating officer at Monitech.

Why IntelliZone PDS?

The TMM legislation obliges that all TMM, either electrically or diesel-powered, must be provided with means to automatically detect the presence of any pedestrian within its vicinity. Upon detecting the presence of a pedestrian, the operator of the TMM and the pedestrian must be warned of each other’s presence by means of an effective warning. In the event where no action is taken to prevent potential collision, further means must be provided to retard the TMM to a safe speed where after the brakes of the TMM are automatically applied without human intervention (Level 9).

“The Matrix IntelliZone PDS was chosen because it is successfully able to retard and stop machines safely even in third gear at Level 9 integration. This is a very important feature – unlike with warning-only PDS, Level 9 PDS removes the responsibility of slowing and stopping the machine from the operator,” explains Venter.

The IntelliZone PDS also uses dynamic zoning, not bubble zone technology. This allows the creation of zones to meet customer requirements, which enables optimal safety and availability of machines by minimising nuisance tripping. “As with electrically-powered TMM, the interlocked IntelliZone PDS on diesel machines has proven to be extremely reliable, which offers the industry a peace of mind through less downtime, increased production and lower cost of ownership,” explains Venter.

Necessary training

Venter says as with the implementation of any new technology, change management and training are of utmost significance to ensure by-in from end users. “Training in the operation of the IntelliZone PDS is given to all operators of LHDs. Artisans also receive in-depth training in operation and maintenance of the system. Operators are coached on how the system works and additionally how it helps them to perform their tasks more efficiently and most importantly, safely. Artisans are also trained in these skills, as well as fault-finding on the system, giving the mine ownership of the solution,” explains Venter.

As with all the solutions Monitech supplies, these systems are also supported and maintained by the company’s highly-qualified and experienced underground artisans 24/7/365. To equip them with the necessary support expertise, Monitech technicians and workshop staff are sent to Matrix in the United States to receive intensive training on the operations and functions of the system.

Great buy-in

Venter says the IntelliZone system interlocked to the Sandvik diesel machines has been embraced by coal mines as they have already experienced its capabilities on their electrically-powered TMM. “Miners understand how the system works and why it has been implemented. People are making more informed decisions in the workplace, leading to a safer working environment at mining operations,” says Venter.

Looking to the future, Venter is of the view that monitoring equipment in coal mining is one of the most effective ways to analyse the mining process, monitor safety behaviours and streamline production. To get reliable data, reliable monitoring systems are essential. “The PDS will continue to form an integral part of the features and applications used in the mining industry to enhance the safety and wellbeing of employees,” concludes Venter.