Digitalisation and smart mines, Features

A mining Titan


Epiroc’s Titan collision-avoidance system is a giant in simplified site safety.

Modern mines are rife with obstacles. From the uncertain depths of an underground operations to the maze-like sprawl of an open pit, caution is key.

Collision-avoidance systems (CAS) are an essential tool in an operator’s kit for the protection of miners and multi-million-dollar assets. 

Operators need equipment they can trust; it’s that simple. And Epiroc’s Titan CAS is even simpler.

“Titan is a robust and versatile solution designed to enhance safety in mining operations,” Epiroc global director product management Hans Wahlquist told Safe to Work.

“Developed and refined over 10 years in harsh South African mining conditions, it offers a comprehensive range of sensor technologies that allow operators to effectively manage proximity risks between vehicles and pedestrians across both underground and surface mining environments.”

The Titan CAS is a one-stop shop designed to be used on all mining machines and across all systems. It does the hard work of detecting collisions while also acting as the central interface, coordinating and sending out information when miners need it most.

“The Titan CAS provides real-time alerts, advice and intervention for dangerous proximity situations straight from the control room to the cockpit, empowering operators to make informed decisions and take appropriate action to avoid collisions,” Wahlquist said.

“Special proximity tags are also available for pedestrians, further enhancing overall safety by alerting them whenever a proximity situation occurs.”

Titan monitors vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P), and vehicle-to-equipment (V2E) proximity risks across an entire mining operation, whether underground or on the surface. 

Mobilaris Onboard works with the Titan CAS to deliver long- and short-range awareness. Image: Epiroc

“Epiroc’s Titan CAS automatically takes control of the machine to slow down and stop it if the operator is unable to do so, providing an unparalleled level of safety,” Wahlquist said. 

“It also offers a variety of available technologies, including low frequency, time-of-flight, global positioning system [GPS], and artificial intelligence [AI] cameras, allowing for customisation and optimisation to suit each operation’s specific risk requirements.”

Underground miners have to contend with tighter spaces and less time to act when obstacles arise, while surface mining can be just a fraught with stray personnel and more vehicles reaching higher speeds.

Wahlquist said there are two fundamental capabilities in place for most digitalisation solutions: communication and positioning.

“In surface mining, positioning can often be solved by using available technology like GPS, while communication is quite straightforward, using modern mobile phone [LTE] technology,” he said. “V2V, V2P and V2E might need various technologies to perform well.

“In underground mining, positioning is much trickier to solve and sometimes needs a variety of technologies to enable the right accuracy for specific uses. Most common in today’s underground mines are Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Communication in underground mines is made predominately by Wi-Fi or LTE.

“By enabling usage of multi-technology, multi-vendor solutions for both communication and positioning, we can optimise a solution based on the customer needs.”

While collision avoidance is the last stand between a miner and disaster, it’s an essential technology on any modern mine site. But it’s not a silver bullet. 

Epiroc has taken the next step in a holistic approach to site safety.

The company’s Mobilaris Onboard solution allows Titan to maintain a lookout for immediate danger while it does the heavy lifting of site-wide traffic management.

Mobilaris provides navigation in an underground mine even without any network coverage, as well as early warnings for any incoming vehicles within 600m.

Wahlquist said the solution doesn’t replace common sense but is a vital tool that even allows users who have never set foot on site before to navigate with ease.

“Imagine two trucks driving quite fast – say, 30kph – towards each other near a tight corner. A CAS solution will not solve that situation,” he said. “Even if you had CAS level nine, which is an automatic brake, it would probably not avoid metal-to-metal at such speeds.

“Now imagine a vehicle with only Mobilaris Onboard. That will warn you about incoming collisions far in advance, giving you time to decide if you want to proceed driving or find the best parking bay quickly, but it won’t warn you for a pedestrian walking close to your vehicle. 

“That’s why we combine the two state-of-the-art solutions and create the best of both worlds.”

Wahlquist said the effect on safety and productivity is huge. 

“The early warnings for incoming traffic makes driving safer and increases productivity, as it leads to better traffic flows with fewer unplanned stops or congestions. Some mines have measured this and seen a huge improvement in haulage tonnes,” he said.

“For the driver, the work environment gets much less stressed and it leads to much less chatter on the radio.”

Epiroc’s digital division is growing rapidly as technologies continue to develop. The company has made a number of recent acquisitions like the Titan CAS and Mobilaris that have the potential to create similar synergies on sites across Australia.

It’s that kind of innovation that puts mines in the path of success. 

This feature also appears in the March-April issue of Safe to Work.

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