Monitech Mining Monitoring Systems was recently commissioned to supply and install a proximity detection system to a number of Sasol Mining’s underground operations.
The project, completed in good time, was an initiative by Sasol Mining to have a proximity detection system (PDS) put in place to assist with the compliance of the Department of Mineral Resources’ regulations requiring integrated proximity detection systems on underground trackless mobile machinery (TMM) at its underground operations in South African coal fields.
The project, which included supply, installation, commissioning and maintenance of the PDS as well as associated training, was awarded to Monitech Mining Monitoring Systems, whose portfolio spoke to the project’s need for a reliable, effective, accurate, low-cost-of-ownership solution backed by around-the-clock qualified service and support. “Integration of the system had to be timeously completed with minimal impact on mining operations,” says Nick Murray, chief sales and marketing officer at Monitech.
Working closely with the third main project stakeholder, US-based equipment OEM Matrix Design Group, Monitech ran the project on a turnkey basis. “Together, we were responsible for supplying and installing the new Matrix IntelliZone proximity detection systems. We also supplied and integrated Cap Lamp Locators (CLL) to all personnel working underground with minimal disruption to mining activities. This is to be complemented by training and round the clock technical support, project and application-related consulting as well as managing the logistics of the project.”
The IntelliZone PDS and its associated Cap Lamp Locator are fully approved for use underground in fiery mines and meet DMR standards for Proximity Detection Systems to be fitted to all TMM in the South African mining sector.
The system creates awareness of the danger areas around TMM. This is achieved by means of two zones, namely the ‘Warning Zone’ and the ‘Shutdown Zone’. The Warning Zone alerts personnel to impending danger when in close proximity to a TMM, allowing them to take the necessary avoiding action. The TMM is also put into ‘crawl’ mode if the Warning Zone is breached.
The Shutdown Zone is closest to the TMM. If personnel breach this zone an immediate shutdown of the TMM occurs. The TMM remains in this state until the Shutdown Zone is cleared.
A safe zone can be created for the operator/s of the TMM. The operator/s can associate with the specific TMM and while they are inside the Operator Safe Zone the TMM can be operated freely. If the operator steps out of the Safe Zone a shutdown of the TMM will occur.
“These zones can have any shape desired and are easily customisable to different types of equipment and their intended applications,” says Murray. “The system comes with a host of built-in benefits including: long-range detection; rugged personnel locators; precise worker location within zones for accurate alerting and control, as well as intelligent linear and dynamic zones.
“The system that has been implemented for Sasol Mining uses a proven technology. It accurately tracks personnel around moving machinery in a way that is specifically programmed for that particular piece of equipment; this is a globally patented technology. Other aspects that make this system unique are its long-term low cost of ownership and the OEM qualified and trained team that we have cultivated.”
Workflow and opportunities
The original project time line was one year, starting in mid-2016, which was drastically reduced due to impending legislation. “Even so, with full cooperation from all stakeholders, these reduced time lines were achieved,” says Murray. “At Monitech, we believe it takes an empowered, motivated and invested team to achieve success with due credit shared by all. The shrinking project time lines were very well managed by Sasol’s programme managers and our qualified underground staff, whose initiative on the project was second to none; the work changes were received and resolved with enthusiasm, with customer satisfaction being the primary aim.”
Twenty direct employees from Monitech were engaged in the project, including a fully qualified underground project manager, engineers and specialist technicians. “Through the project, Monitech was able to train and offer sustained employment and skills development to members of the local community and in turn, this has allowed the company to grow. The project has also made the empowerment of its staff through extensive training and experience possible, which has further galvanised the company and its employees,” Murray notes.
Further to this, the undisputable dedication of both Monitech and Matrix Design Group were key to the success of the project. “Tackling this project together strengthened both our relationships with our clients as well as our partnership and showcased once again our commitment to supplying new technologies to the mining sector.”
Monitech has fostered long and successful relationships with all of the major mining houses in the South African coal industry. “Our products are consistently of the highest quality as we employ the ISO 9001 Quality Management System and we have a solid reputation for developing products that are relevant to our customers’ needs,” Murray asserts.
“The success of the Sasol Mining project highlights Monitech’s capabilities, not only in delivering top class products to the mining sector, but in doing so comfortably under challenging expectations. The rollout of this project reinforces our commitment as a reliable service partner with the goal of improving the safety of mining personnel. By establishing and maintaining long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships, this project brings us one step closer to our vision of zero harm in the mining industry.”