Worker safety is the highest priority for all mining operations. The mine’s operating success depends on clear communication with each worker at the site, otherwise safety and productivity suffer.
Expanding the Cat MineStar Detect portfolio, Caterpillar launched Connected Worker, a Guardhat-developed safety and productivity solution for surface mining operations, at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas. The Connected Worker system combines smart wearable technology with the power of analytics to deliver an added layer of protection against a variety of safety risks at the site.
Scalable to accommodate both small and large operations, Connected Worker improves safety by alerting all connected workers of hazardous situations in real-time, delivering up to a 50% reduction in lost-time reportable incidents. The system’s ability to track worker location plus enhanced communications through audio, video and image transmission also help to increase mine site productivity. A range of safety, productivity and benchmarking reports, customizable to fit the site’s needs, boosts operational efficiency.
The worker safety system consists of three major components: the wearable hardware; software that captures and reports data; and the Internet of Things (IoT) platform that receives reports from the field and pushes out potential safety risks to workers. Creating a safer working environment, Connected Worker helps to detect and report hazardous areas at the mine, unsafe exposure to environmental elements and communicates alerts to affected workers. The system communicates evacuation orders, fall detections, SOS signals and geofence violations.
Multiple wearable options
Increasing system flexibility, three wearable options are available to communicate with workers. A smart alternative to personal protective equipment, the HC1 Hardhat delivers real-time positions through an embedded global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) chip. With the use of Ultra-Wideband (UWB) at the site, the hardhat wearable increases situational awareness indoors by offering 3D-tracking – longitude, latitude and elevation – helping to quickly locate a worker in an emergency. The hardhat features video and audio call, push-to-talk, and offline geofence and recording capabilities.
The TA1 wearable tag delivers tracking GNSS and Bluetooth tracking outdoors. It provides SOS, evacuation and social distancing alerts as well as notifies workers of geofence breaches. Workers can capture images and videos to report hazards, which are automatically shared with the safety control center (SCC), so teams can quickly develop geofences around the hazard to boost worker safety.
A companion hardware for hybrid deployment, the smartphone app for Android devices offers a solution for managing and monitoring team members in an outdoor environment. The app allows field managers to communicate with workers, issue SOS alerts and can be used to capture images and video of hazardous areas for reporting.
The power of analytics
Offering a deeper level of communication and reporting than other systems, Connected Worker creates a safety ecosystem at the mine site, where actionable data is captured and stored for analysis. The SCC allows managers to view worker location and data in near real-time to quickly communicate unsafe situations to workers in the field. All data is captured and stored on a local server or in the cloud, depending on the mine’s preferences.
A broad range of customizable reports allows mines to review, analyze and predict hazardous situations to prevent future safety incidents. Among the system-generated reports are: overview reports of selected events; zonal reports of violations and emergency evacuations; location reports with heat signatures designating highly traveled areas at the mines; and sensor reading reports that include temperature, noise, humidity and pressure of the working environment.