February 2014

The best in new technology

Compiled by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco

◢ Never out of range

ARES-PRISMFleet tracking systems help mine operators and management keep tabs on productivity by providing a wide array of real-time data from vehicles, including location, fuel usage and even the exact time the ignition is turned on. The systems also allow for two-way communication between vehicle operators. But all that is interrupted when vehicles venture outside of cellular coverage area, creating potentially serious problems when communication is critical for safety and efficient operations. Last November, Navman Wireless introduced a new plug-in for its OnlineAVL 2 fleet tracking system in North America that allows the system to temporarily switch to satellite communication when the vehicle moves out of cellular range. It automatically switches back to the more cost-effective cellular transmission when the vehicle is back in range. “From an occupational health and safety perspective,” says Andrew Hintz, Navman’s vertical market product manager, “it allows them to have infinite coverage and capability to ensure the driver receives mission critical information or, with the twoway messaging feature, they can actually communicate. That’s really what it’s all about: mitigating the risk of the location, especially in a harsh environment.”

◢ Work clothes for women

CovergallFor decades, women working in industrial environments have had to make do with gear designed for men. Because men’s work clothing is often ill-fitting for women, it poses a safety risk. And, for women wearing men’s coveralls, a trip to the porta potty is a challenge fit only for Durga, the Hindu deity with eight arms. In fact, for Alicia Woods, who has worked in the mining industry for 14 years, the experience was so disastrous that she refused to drink water before going underground. Three years ago, she went into a particularly hot underground environment and had no choice but to drink several bottles of water. The inevitable visit to the portable toilet ended with her having to abandon all the belongings that had fallen out of her pockets. “I said, I will never wear your clothes again,” she recalls. “And really, if you’re not drinking water to avoid using the porta potty, it becomes a health issue as well.” As a result, Woods designed gear for women of all sizes that includes coveralls with hidden front-and-back trap doors, and founded Covergalls Inc. to market the goods. She has partnered with a Canadian manufacturer and today her products, designed in Sudbury, Ontario, are getting international attention.

◢ Cold, controlled testing

Climactic_ChamberWhen designing mining and construction equipment for use in extreme weather, testing it in those conditions is essential. This is especially important for machines designed with extensive hydraulic systems that can be affected by extreme cold, says Nikolaas Van Riet, business development and innovation manager with Offshore Wind Infrastructure Application Lab (OWI-Lab). “You want to test such things as cold starts and how fast windows are defrosted because all of these will affect operations,” he adds. In 2012, the group built a large climatic chamber at Belgium’s Port of Antwerp, near the Zuidnatie breakbulk terminal. The OWI-lab and its climate chamber can handle large and heavy machinery of up to 300 tons. It was originally designed to test wind turbines, “but because of its size and height, it’s ideal for large mining equipment as well,” says Van Riet, adding the fact that the lab has the highest ceiling of such facilities in all of Europe “makes it ideal for testing cranes, for example.” In fact, at 10.6 metres in length, seven metres in width, and eight metres in height, with the technology to test from -60 C to 60 C, the chamber is one of the largest and most sophisticated available for private industry in Europe and North America.

Back to magazine home page

Post a comment


PDF Version