One of the leading challenges faced by the South African mining industry is to ensure that compliance, efficiency and safety standards are adequately met.

In 2015, The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) made amendments to Chapter 8 of the Mine Health and Safety Act. The amendments dictate that employees should be protected against collisions with trackless mobile machines. This resulted in the installation of collision avoidance systems being mandatory for all mining vehicles.

According to Pierre Bruwer, Managing Director of Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron; the company introduced its DMR complaint Collision Avoidance Proximity System (CAPS) into its Mining Fleet Solution in September 2018 and is continually investing in research and development to improve on the solution.

“Netstar believes in constant innovation and doing good business while doing good. Last year we committed to upgrading our CAPS, in-house, to enable level 8 intervention where the automatic slowing down of a vehicle is activated should a driver not heed to collision alerts,” says Bruwer. “The Netstar CAPS is currently being used in mines at a level 7, however, it is level 8 and 9 ready and compliance testing to support this is underway. A giant step towards incident reduction and further supporting the mining industry’s goal of Zero Harm,” continued Bruwer.  

Using Nanotron technology, cutting-edge location-aware sensors are able to accurately gauge potentially risky proximity levels between pedestrians, vehicles and machines. The system collects real-time data, interprets it, and audibly and visually warns vehicle operators of a potential collision (level 7 intervention). The technology works even under the toughest environmental conditions, adding to its appeal as a go-to accident avoidance solution.

“When South African mines begin migrating to level 8, or even level 9 which is the complete stopping of a vehicle in the face of danger, our technology will be ready for the change,” says Francois Stols, Chief Technology Officer at Netstar.

The CAPS forms part of Netstar’s overall Mining Fleet Management Solution portfolio. The full portfolio uses a combination of traditional fleet management solutions, CAPS and telematics.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution has not only allowed us to make mining safer, but has opened doors for streamlined fleet management across industries,” says Bruwer. “Using telematics, companies can monitor their driver behaviour, enable predictive vehicle maintenance, and access real-time, actionable data for improved decision making and operational efficiencies. The telematics data can be used for event reconstruction in insurance or internal disputes, to fairly rate vehicle operator performance, conduct in-depth risk analysis, improve planning procedures, and prevent unnecessary vehicle downtime,” Bruwer concludes.