GMG releases functional safety guidelines for autonomous mining

Image: Fortescue Metals Group

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has mapped out a set of functional safety guidelines for autonomous mining systems.

A previous guideline for the implementation of autonomous mining was released by GMG, with the new guideline focussing on the application of functional safety to automated mining.

GMG noted risk assessment and emergency management needed “a broader scope”, as autonomous systems were more complicated than manned systems.

Suggestions included a focus on administrative controls, factoring in human behaviour changes in manned operations are replaced by autonomous systems.

Emergency procedures should involve how to stop an autonomous operation; how to approach the autonomous operating zone; how to remove a broken down autonomous machine; and training requirements for emergency responders.

“A focus on functional safety is important for autonomous systems due to their reliance on technology (i.e., hardware and software) to manage safety functions,” GMG stated in its guidelines.

“A strong focus on the administrative controls that are critical to system safety is also important.”

GMG also stated that managing the shift to autonomous solutions in the workplace needed to be considered, and that adequate training should be adopted by workers.

Conflicts between manned and autonomous operation procedures should be addressed, while operational procedures need to be “well defined” through the coding of the autonomous systems.

“Autonomous systems require standard operating procedures in code that is executable because a machine cannot understand the intent of the standard operating procedures like a human can,” GMG stated.

Safety standards will need to continue to be updated as automated technology evolves, GMG noted.

GMG aims to improve the performance, safety and sustainability of mining through a number of white papers and guidelines through its industry network.