Brighten the Darkness: How UWB Helps Improve Mining Safety and Efficiency?

Throughout history, mining operations have been notoriously dangerous and challenging for those who work in them.

Now, advancements in asset-tracking technology have made the work safer – but that doesn’t mean mining operations are without risk. That’s because, even with recent innovations, supervisors are often completely in the dark about what their employees are doing in certain areas of the operation.

That can mean missing employees taking longer breaks or not fulfilling their duties, but it can also have more dire implications, such as potentially missing employees taking actions that could put themselves or those they work within danger. For example, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian collisions account for a significant number of mining operation injuries and fatalities each year.

Fortunately, ultra-wideband (UWB) technology is giving organizations more insight into every square inch of their operational space than ever before. This visibility is key to improving both safety and efficiency at mining sites.

What Is UWB, and Why Is It the Right Choice?

The challenges of mining operations are numerous. Blasting and seismic events, poor visibility, poor signals and radio interference, harsh and demanding conditions, crowded broadband space, and limited physical operation spaces all stand in the way of the connectivity and visibility these sites need to operate safely and efficiently.

Enter real-time location systems (RTLS) that leverage UWB technology. With an RTLS solution, every asset, from people to equipment and beyond, can remain visible at all times, giving supervisors the visibility they need to bring those benefits to safety and efficiency.

UWB is more accurate than other positioning technologies, such as Wi-Fi, GPS, RFID and more, which can be blocked by walls and equipment and suffer drops in performance. To learn more on RTLS technology comparison, please see the previous article here.

While UWB-based solutions require more initial setup, the permanent benefits far outweigh this necessary installation time. UWB technology is highly precise and can provide the continuous positioning information mining operations need as they continue to leverage more automated assets, etc.

How Do RTLS Solutions Use UWB Technology?

Redpoint Positioning’s RTLS solution is the ideal choice for mining operations for a number of reasons, placing it above even other UWB-powered positioning systems.

First, Redpoint’s UWB tags can calculate the linear distance to other tags directly, and a “minimum” distance can be applied to a “broadcast” tag to set off an alarm with another tag comes too close. Unlike other systems, anchors are not necessary for this functionality, as Redpoint’s UWB tags can broadcast, receive and calculate distance without anchors nearby.

Through the system’s real-time software interface, supervisors can see the movements of vehicles and personnel in real time. When they become too close, the alarm is sent, helping prevent hazardous scenarios before they happen.

Redpoint’s UWB technology enables powerful geofencing and proximity detection, which can keep assets out of areas they aren’t supposed to be in and cut down on the types of potentially deadly collisions that can plague mining operations operating under challenging conditions.

How UWB-Powered RTLS Solutions Drive Productivity and Efficiency

These benefits lead to greatly enhanced personnel safety, which is the top priority of mining operations – but they also lend themselves to elevated productivity.

In one case study, a Redpoint RTLS system helped a mining operation identify three clear anomalies in data collected that pointed to serious inefficiencies:

  • Double entry, which occurs when a tag enters and exits a zone without completing an assumed zone task.
  • Vehicles idle outside of zones, which indicates mucking cycle disruptions.
  • How long tags are inside zones, which led to insights about scoops being idle inside the draw point zone for longer than expected.

Insights like these make it possible for mining operations to address obvious inefficiencies and errors, which lead to elevated productivity while continuing to boost personnel safety, as well. For example, supervisors can review routes and track assets and equipment, meaning they can reduce redundant routes and find ways to make the entire operation more streamlined.

Redpoint’s RTLS solutions are reliable and durable, ensuring that supervisors have unprecedented visibility at all times and that they are empowered to deliver real, measurable results.

To learn more, contact us today.

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