Health and Safety CONFERENCE

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Broadmeadow Proximity Detection System

Glenn Owens
Project Manager, BMA Engineering

Dave Zanette
Project Supervisor, BMA Engineering

The Broadmeadow Proximity Detection (PDS) Project was initiated to address the risk of vehicle to pedestrian and vehicle to vehicle interactions in a low visibility environment. There have been numerous deaths and injuries which have occurred due to workers being contacted or crushed by mobile equipment in the underground environment. Following the fatality at the Moranbah North Coal Mine (2007), a Shuttle car incident at San Juan and the fatality at Escondida in 2016. Broadmeadow is committed to the implementation of an engineering solution. Proximity Detection Systems have the potential to reduce the risk of underground mobile equipment injuries and fatalities.

The project has completed stage 1 trials of a Proximity Detection System (PDS) fitted to vehicles (Shuttle Car (SC), Loader (LHD) and Personnel Transporter (PJB)) designed to detect the presence of a pedestrian or vehicle in a hazardous location around a machine. Should a worker enter this zone, the system will issue a warning signal – a combination of audible and visual alarms – to notify the individual as well as the machine operator of potential danger. The system was also configured on the SC to automatically slow and stop when a pedestrian was detected in the warning and danger zones of the machine. Stage 1 of the trial was conducted both in surface and underground testing areas in isolation from production activities.

The PDS is currently in stage 2 trials at Broadmeadow. During this stage the PDS (with auto slow\stop enabled) has been installed on an operating shuttle car currently in production underground in a Broadmeadow Development panel. This is the first SC in Australia to run in production with a PDS in full auto slow\stop mode.

A LHD fitted with audible and visual alarms is also being trialled underground in a production environment, this trial involve fitting various attachments to the LHD including personnel-baskets, pipe trailer and stone dust pod. Various attachments require configuration changes to the system to ensure the machine zone sizes can grow and shrink dynamically to suit the attached implement or machine speed. One of the most challenging parts of the PDS trials is the application of silent zone technology which enables an operator(s) to work within the fields of the machine in what is designated as a safe area i.e. cab or inside a personnel-basket. This silent zone technology has been applied to a bolter\miner and at Broadmeadow and it effectively makes all operators standing in safe zones on the bolter\miner platform invisible to the shuttle car PDS as it docks to the machine for loading.

During the course of the trials over 200 different vehicle to pedestrian and vehicle to vehicle scenarios have been tested. If a pedestrian comes within 7 to 8 metres of a shuttle car it will slow to 50% speed and if a pedestrian comes within 4 to 5 metres of the shuttle car it will automatically stop before hitting the pedestrian. Feedback from operators has been that the system gives them a greater awareness of machine NO-GO Zones and operators are standing further back from the machine.

The PDS is current installed on the following machines at Broadmeadow:

  • Full Auto-Stop Mode – 2 x Shuttle Cars (with a 3rd installation in progress)
  • Warning only Mode – 1 x Underground Personnel Transporter, 2 x Underground Loaders (LHDs), 1 x Electric Vehicle, 1 x Moxy Articulated Truck

PDS Tags are currently installed in 180 Caplamps.