Work Area Monitor (WAM™)
CASE FOR CHANGE
Workplace safety in a modern mine.
The open cut mining industry is quite literally huge. Safety is a critical aspect of this kind of mining and the biggest issue is slope stability.
It presents a very real and present danger to workers and machinery.
Should a rock fall or slide happen, there can be an evacuation and shutdown of the mine for long periods of time. Shutdown costs spiral very quickly.
Historically, surveyors are brought in to establish if the area is stable. The process is time consuming and costly. Often the outcomes of the surveys are not conclusive, leading to high risks for workers and further delays in operation.
Enter GroundProbe and the WAM™ (Work Area Monitor). The WAM™ uses a proprietary radar technology to monitor slope stability in real-time. In layman’s terms the radar scans the slope of a mine looking for wall movements that foretell an imminent slope collapse event.
CMD was invited to partner with GroundProbe to bring the WAM™ technology to a commercial platform, both in terms of its human useability and its technical implementation. This involved customer and stakeholder engagements leading to critical insights and discoveries that drove the technical development.
There were many discoveries of note however the critical issues were reliability, portability, deployment time, automatic communication and simplicity of operation (one person deployment).
The WAM™ project was an absolute pleasure to work on. There were moments of frustration, and moments of triumph. Here are a few of the good ones:
- Watching serious engineers become children again while building and playing with full size foam core models of proposed deployment platforms.
- Working right through the night to assemble the first fully working prototype for a GroundProbe board meeting 9.00am the next day.
- Driving the prototype directly into boardroom at 9.00am the next day, parking, deploying and demonstrating the fully working system (all in less than 3 minutes).
- Having the development partner mine site lock the gates as we tried to leave with the prototype after two months of testing. They wanted to buy it and wouldn’t let us leave unless GroundProbe agreed to sell it to them…
In field results have been impressive. The WAM™ has successfully predicted and managed dozens of collapse events. Not one worker has been hurt or an asset lost during a WAM™ watch.
Built onto a mine vehicle to allow easy driving access to work areas, the WAM™ is quick to set up and easy to use. When wall movement is detected, the WAM™ transmits visual alarms and audicble warnings to each crew member via their Personal Alerting (PAL) devices.
Information gathered by the system is displayed in 3D. Colour coded images quickly inform operators of local levels stability within the area being monitored (green good, red bad).
The need for human monitoring is bypassed in critical situations, any imminent danger is reported, and alarm beacons automatically activate in a key locations.
Following a collapse event the WAM™ establishes quickly whether the affected area is now stable.
The future vision of the system is one of complete mine safety integration. Individual workers and assets within the protected area will be tracked and coordinated from a central location. The WAM™ system will be part of an intelligent fully automated real-time network of predictive safety monitoring.