Downer, Coates trial digital avoidance barrier

Downer has joined forces with Coates Hire and Sitech WA to trial a safety technology that prevents massive machinery entering restricted areas in real time.

Sitech developed the technology, called the 3D Avoidance Zone System, in New Zealand.

It creates a digital 3D barrier that prompts a machine to shut down when any part of it virtually touches the barrier.

This promises to dramatically reduce accidents and increase safety in construction areas within tight areas or nearby critical infrastructure such as mine sites.

“The system will be used as further mitigation against potential to ‘foul’ the rail danger zone, over and above to those physical barriers already in place,” Downer general manager, Western Australia infrastructure projects, Cormac Brady, said.

“Following a successful trial of the 3D Avoidance Zone System, Downer will be able to apply it to our wider rail and civil projects, thus ensuring safety is at the heart of everything we do.”

The technology uses Sitech’s Trimble machine control system, Earthworks, which provides a machinery’s position via dual global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology.

This position will then be passed to a software that compares the machine’s position with the exclusion zone.

When touching the invisible barrier, it will send a signal to the machine to stop by disabling all operator inputs.

Downer and Coates Hire are trialling the technology for the first time in Australia, in an undisclosed location in Western Australia.

Once complete, the two companies plan to deliver the technology to construction sites across the country.

“Construction sites near rail lines and other critical infrastructure are both necessary and fraught with hazards, as excavators increasingly work within tight areas and nearby fast-moving transport,” Coates Hire executive general manager, West, James Naylor said.

“Thankfully technology is emerging to ensure these work spaces are safer than ever before, with Western Australia the first Australian state to benefit through this trial.”

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