Safe to Work finds out how Chipatronic is visually arming mining companies with advanced camera systems designed to improve safety, productivity and compliance.
Technology has steadily improved how people can monitor workplaces, limiting the biases of human nature.
Chipatronic, a leading provider of automotive audio-visual products, provides the Australian mining industry with a solution to witness and record vehicle operation, including any incidents.
Its range of industrial video recorders are strong enough to withstand the rugged conditions of Australian mines, allowing operators to review footage from vehicle accidents, production losses or other unexplained incidents.
“The advantage of a video system is you’ve got fixed eyes,” Chipatronic director Stephen Walsh tells Safe to Work.
“Humans tend to look around even when they are concentrating. When you’ve got a camera set up, it sits there and is recording, constantly picking up on things a human may not.”
Following incidents on a mine site, the first priority is finding out what happened and whether it can be attributed to human error, equipment failure or site conditions.
“Accurately seeing time frames is probably the most underestimated area when humans are recalling events, especially while driving,” Walsh says.
“People often believe they have time. And even afterwards, they reflect and think that time is shorter or longer depending on how they saw it at the time. Humans have quite a poor innate sense of time.
“Often, the first thing that happens after an incident is that someone will sit down and explain what was happening at the time, as they saw it. You will get a perfectly honest answer from them but then they look at the video, (and) it often appears differently to how it was recalled.”
Chipatronic’s systems are equipped with solid state hard drives, which can save between two and six weeks of footage, depending on a mines’ operating hours.
Cameras are able to be situated anywhere that can be reached by cables, and Wi-Fi transmission kits are also available if required.
The cameras are the “eyes” and Chipatronic uses high end Sony image sensors with Wide Dynamic Range (WDR), which captures both light and dark areas and then balances these on the fly for the best quality video footage, up to 1080 pixels.
This footage can then be provided to investigators immediately following an incident, helping them draw evidence-based conclusions and make the right recommendations to the company.
In addition to reviewing incidents after they occur, the footage can also be used for compliance and training, to help prevent future incidents from happening.
Walsh says that in an industry like mining, which has a range of procedures that need to be followed across a site’s variety of operations, visual training is a beneficial addition to formal training sessions.
“When there are procedures that need to be followed, such as loading a vehicle, Chipatronic’s vehicle cameras allow workers to review the process and check (whether) it was carried out according to best practice, appropriate precautions were taken and corners weren’t cut,” he explains.
“From compliance, you move into training. If you have video footage, you can use a review showing a non-compliant instance, followed with a footage on how to do it correctly.
“The important part is that any non-compliance is followed by the correct process as this is not meant to be just looking for problems, and video evidence is just as useful to show correct procedures were being followed, which can highlight other elements that may otherwise have been passed over.”
Chipatronic mobile digital video recording (MDVR) systems can also have a GPS attached into the system, embedding location coordinates into video files, to accurately confirm the location. A geofence can be set up in the online platform, which connects to the MDVR, and alerts can be raised should the vehicle go outside this area.
In addition to helping review a vehicle’s movements after an incident, Chipatronic technology can also help a driver during operation.
Its fixed video systems monitor external areas. This is commonly used for reversing systems, giving operators clear vision from inside a vehicle cabin but can also be used for hitches, powered accessories and other areas where the operator does not have a clear vision.
With some large mining vehicles having limited visibility from the front cabin, this provides a better view for safer movement around the mine site or workshop.
One of Chipatronic’s coal mining clients uses the company’s pan tilt zoom (PTZ) camera system, which is attached to a boom to view areas that are considered dangerous on site.
“In this instance, the coal miner has fixed a PTZ camera on the end of a boom which goes out over the face of the coal mine, which is considered a hazardous area,” Walsh explains.
“People aren’t permitted to get close to the coal face. So, with one of these cameras on the end of a boom, the operator can use the camera joystick control to spin it by 360 degrees and pan backward, forward and zoom in by 20 times to get a close-up view of particular areas.”
Chipatronic’s technology is not only advanced, but well suited to the conditions of mining operations.
The most popular application seen in the mining sector is four and eight channel mobile digital video recorders, which can be installed into any vehicle in the mining sector, including front end loaders, telehandlers and underground dozers.
They are also designed to use the latest technology that eliminates the need for additional casing and protection, keeping them small in size.
“Older alternative products use quite large, chunky cases with vibration protection,” says Walsh.
“Chipatronic’s range has changed completely to solid state drives with no moving parts, which means they are less susceptible to vibration. The whole product can be made smaller because it doesn’t need to have those large anti-vibration housings.
“It also means heat and humidity don’t affect the components to the same extent as (they do) some other electronics.”
With miners’ responsibilities growing as sites become more technologically advanced, having an extra set of eyes can help to minimise vehicle collisions and accidents.
“For operators in vehicles to be able to see better and even zoom in on what’s going on rather than putting a person in close to the action, you can get a much better grasp on current conditions safely, while being far away enough not to be in danger,” Walsh concludes.
This article also appears in the Jan-Feb issue of Safe to Work.