Using technology for safer mines

Comsol delivers 'shaft to shaft' connectivity to promote safer mines, says Gary Woolley, GM Solutions of Comsol Wireless Solutions.

Johannesburg, 08 Dec 2015
Read time 3min 10sec

When it comes to Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ), the South African mining industry has a less than favourable image. However, this bad reputation is not necessarily well-deserved as Gary Woolley, GM Solutions of Comsol Wireless Solutions explains.

Avoiding incidents on the mining site itself often has more to do with having the most beneficial and innovative infrastructure, systems and communications technology in place than with negligence.

While the statistics reflecting incidents on-site may be grim (with as many as 80 deaths in 2014 and over 3 100 injuries recorded nationally during the same period), the truth is that the mines we deal with at Comsol take SHEQ very seriously. This is mostly because, contrary to what we are often made to believe, there exists a strong emphasis on the value of life in this industry. More than ever, miners are being valued in their own right and not merely as resources.

The problem arises when mine managers rely on outdated information and communication technology, which in a nutshell does not facilitate uninterrupted or widespread connectivity on-site. The result is elevated levels of risk for workers which goes against all mines' missions to minimise risk and decrease incidents while still promoting optimal productivity on-site.

Modern mining requires more networking so that real-time wireless communication for voice and data are commonplace. Hand-held data devices and/or centralised IP video also need to be in place for optimised process control and streamlined operations.

If mines are supported by the right technology and wireless solutions, the early detection of risk is expedited. A practical example of this is when technology is effectively leveraged to monitor truck drivers' levels of alertness so as to notify site managers when alert activity drops. Drivers with less than desired levels of alertness can then be stopped and either given a break or be replaced with fresh drivers. While such a practice would possibly result in a slight delay in production, it is much better than the delay that could be caused should there be an incident on-site. Not only does this promote workers' safety, it also reduces the chances and costs associated with down-time.

Comsol has proven the case for wireless connectivity in mining over and over again with a client list that reads like the who's who of mining, including Anglo, De Beers, Barplats, Exxaro, Sibanye Gold, Samancor Chrome and African Rainbow Minerals. With this substantial experience, it has been able to perfect the deployment of solutions that meet mines' goals to boost SHEQ and truly look after their employees.

It is committed to creating the most beneficial and suitable tailored solutions for each of its clients, by relying on the latest technologies to deliver optimal connectivity.

This includes making use of meshing technology as part of its solution. Meshing technology not only delivers desirable outdoor coverage and pervasive connectivity, but it also instantly adapts to changing environments. By being robust enough to offer mines the coverage that they require with the adaptability that modern mining demands, meshing technology has become an integral part of Comsol's solutions.

While the safety of workers is a top priority of mines, it is not the only important factor. This is why Comsol develops turnkey solutions that also improve security at mines, enhances redundancy and boosts operational efficiencies. Delivering 'shaft-to-shaft' connectivity that enables mines to be more productive at less cost for all.

Comsol Wireless Solutions

Comsol is a dynamic, innovative South African wireless specialist managed by passionate people who provide the full range of services for connectivity and networking, from planning to high-level maintenance. Comsol specialises in providing the best possible connectivity solution for each client, whether managed circuits, wireless, fibre or a combination. With its own 28 Gbps spectrum licensed by ICASA, it offers speedy deployment, high reliability and cost effectiveness.

With offices in South Africa's main centres and technical teams throughout the country, Comsol is highly responsive and service-oriented. Since its inception in 1997 the company has installed more than 20 000 wireless connections across South Africa and other parts of Africa involving more than R1 billion worth of infrastructure. The distance covered by this infrastructure totals 250 000km, which equates to traversing the earth five times.

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Editorial contacts
Comsol Wireless Solutions Brenden Pronk (+27) 010 140 8800
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