Since the launch of its fourth-generation MineAlert collision awareness system (CAS), the core focus of industry leader in fleet management technology in mining, Modular Mining Systems (MMS) is to ensure that the collision awareness solution mitigates false alarms while continuing to identify high-risk safety situations.
A collision detection system is only as good as an operator’s trust in the system to provide true alarms, says MMS safety solutions product manager Robert Dunsch.
“A common weakness of existing proximity and collision awareness approaches . . . is their inability to filter out events that are not actually potential vehicle-collision risks. When operators experience too many false alarms, they learn to ignore all alarms and it negates the system’s effectiveness,” he says.
The MineAlert CAS has various levels of filtering to minimise superfluous alarms, which MMSI believes is a key differentiator of the product.
It can also be adapted to a company’s requirements, fleet and situations, subsequently enabling the system to complement existing client-specific safety policies, such as speed thresholds, distances between vehicles, vehicle types and warning zones and alerts.
The solution leverages dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) – industry-leading, standards-based connected- vehicle technologies – from advanced automotive technology, systems and components Tier 1 supplier Denso.
DSRC is a direct peer-to-peer communication technology, and in addition to transmitting vehicle-to-vehicle communications in almost real time (thereby providing time- critical information as quickly as possible), with proven reliability through 15 years of research and various deployments in automobiles.
Dunsch adds that the system works in several standard, licence-free frequencies and in the licensed 5.9 GHz DSRC frequency spectrum; this frequency prioritises safety over nonsafety applications, and is designed to perform in extreme weather.
Equipping the MineAlert CAS with DSRC enables mine vehicles to communicate directly with each other, eliminating the need for communication infrastructure such as WiFi. It also supports high-speed, low-latency communication, which is critical for identify- ing and issuing high-risk collision alerts.
The system also uses intelligent path prediction algorithms in conjunction with this communication capability to help filter out false alarms. “When an operator receives an alert from the system, they can trust that the alert is legitimate, and since the alert transmission is near instantaneous, they have time to take corrective action to prevent collision,” explains Dunsch.
Meanwhile, MMS has also identified synergies between the MineAlert CAS hardware platform and ProVision Guided Spotting system to provide improved economies of scale, which facilitates a stronger return on investment for the combined technologies.
The ProVision Guided Spotting system is an operator-assist technology that could significantly improve truck-and-shovel productivity in openpit mines by improving visibility and efficiently, guiding haul truck drivers while they are reversing the truck towards the shovel-loading position without guidance from the shovel operator.
He mentions that the system was always intended to be an expandable platform that evolves to provide more capability over time, including active control of vehicles.
“While our solution is original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) agnostic, being owned by an OEM also enables us to develop an integrated solution that is supported by the equipment manufacturer.”
Any collision awareness system should seek to complement the existing safety practices on site, not replace them. Therefore, the MineAlert CAS is designed to increase operators’ situational awareness and to empower them to make the right decision at the right time – not to take control away from operators or make decisions for them, Dunsch concludes.