Provix: Improving Visibility at the Mine Site with Thermal Cameras
Navigating heavy equipment in darkness, dust, fog, rain, snow, and steam is a challenging task. Equipment lights can be distorted causing additional visual distraction. Thermal Cameras allow operators to see personnel and hazards, as well as other vehicles and equipment, reducing the likelihood of collision and increasing safety and productivity for everyone. Thermal cameras do not magnify or distort oncoming headlights, allowing operators to continue safely despite glare from other vehicle lights.
Visibility is limited during underground operations and, therefore, it is difficult for heavy equipment to navigate when steam, fog, or darkness is present. Underground mine rescue vehicles and emergency services use thermal imaging to respond safely. Thermal cameras will display personnel, stranded vehicles, fire or heat sources, and any other object with a temperature variation from the ambient temp in total darkness, in smoke filled drifts and in other conditions resulting in limited visibility.
Winter conditions make travel significantly more dangerous at surface operations, on haul roads and while working between mining and storage locations. When haul truck operators, graders, and loaders cannot see the road due to whiteout conditions, it is a common occurrence for them to go off the road. Thermal cameras can discern between the travelled roadway and the shoulders or roadside. For Grader operators, the thermal cameras are so sensitive they will display the line between graded ground and un-worked terrain.
In summer, dust can obscure vision to the same extent as whiteouts during a winter storm. On loaders and on other heavy equipment, thermal cameras enable safer operations by displaying the heat signature of other vehicles. It is not possible to operate this type of equipment without visual assistance. Thermal cameras offer safety and production efficiency benefits.
Bitumen laden oil sands are recovered using heavy equipment during surface mining operations. During extraction and reclamation, hot water is used to separate the bitumen from the mined material. After the bitumen has been removed, the spent sand is distributed in an environmentally sensitive manner. During the spreading of the spent sand there is a significant amount of steam rising from the piles of reclaimed material. Fog and other environmental conditions compound this problem.
Thermal Cameras for Visibility
Deployment of thermal imaging cameras has increased forward and rearward visibility for the machine operators due to the ability of the thermal camera system to see in the darkness and through the steam. Thermal Imaging cameras provide for enhanced vision in steam, fog, smoke, snow, rain, and dark operating conditions.
Providing the operators with visual acuity in darkness or dense steam allows them to confidently move their equipment, knowing that anything with a heat signature will be clearly shown on the monitor. Both personnel and other operating equipment are clearly detected and operators are able to maintain an effective pace.
What will I see?
In certain environments, any of the aforementioned visibility restricting conditions will create unsafe situations for all personnel.
The deployment of thermal imaging cameras will provide illumination of any object with a heat signature.
Thermal imaging is black and white imagery that highlights and displays temperature variation. Any heat variation from ambient will create a life size totally realistic image on the in cab display screen. Heavy equipment operators can see personnel, vehicles, as well as variations in topography, such as roadway edges, ponding water, and other hazards.
Dozer operators are in danger due to deep water ponding forming from heated water coming out of the discharge pipes. Being unable to line up the dozer blade with the spent sand pile can lead to significant impacts on productivity because of reduced operational speeds, as well as cause unsafe operating conditions due to reduced visibility. Tailings pipes, when in use, are warmer than the surrounding terrain and will be clearly identifiable on the LCD monitor or screen in your cab. Other operating heavy equipment and vehicles will be identifiable on screen because of the heat arising from the engine and exhaust. Even if a vehicle is not operating and has not cooled to ambient temperature, it will be easily identified.
Every surface miner in the Canadian oil sands uses Provix thermal cameras for safety and productivity gains.
One of the main hazards in the tailings cells is the presence of holes or ponds caused by the discharge of the tailings materials. Depending on the ambient temperature, the liquid will be easy to differentiate from the surrounding terrain. This is particularly valuable in the dark, when it is often not possible to differentiate between the terrain and the ponds. Provix thermal cameras have proven so valuable to eliminate this threat that all companies operating in the oil sands have implemented Provix’s thermal solution.
Provix supplies two fixed thermal cameras for heavy equipment that are automatically activated based on the direction of travel and require no operator input to display an enhanced image of what is in front or behind the equipment. The camera operates with a relatively narrow field of view, so as to magnify any object detected.
The cameras are connected to a rugged control panel that is directly connected to the vehicle’s power system. The single magnified image from either camera is displayed on a seven-inch waterproof, dustproof monitor that is ergonomically positioned for ease of reference and can be adjusted to suit individual operators’ sightlines.
At certain oil sands operations the Provix solution has become an standard operating procedure, and tailings equipment do not run without the thermal camera system. The Provix solution has been implemented by all surface oil sands operations in the Fort McMurray area.
Provix supplies a system for mine rescue vehicles that includes two thermal cameras, a gas detection system, emergency lights, and a regular backup camera for emergency vehicles. These have been supplied on Mine rescue vehicles/ underground ambulances that are in use at Agnico Eagle and Vale.
Provix builds thermal solutions, long range video, heavy equipment based thermal, handheld thermal, and thermal cameras for mine rescue and for surface vehicles and ambulances that operate in wildlife prone areas.
Contact Provix for vision enhancement solutions that ensure safe operations and productivity gains.
About the Author
Karly Winfield is a Technical sales consultant at Provix Inc. She has worked in the mining industry for the last twelve years and been underground at more than 50 mines. Karly is an honours graduate of the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Management Economics and Finance. She also holds a Level l Infrared Thermography Certification.
Karly was named ‘Top 10 under 40’ by Rock to Road magazine in 2015 for leading the next generation of safety in mining and aggregates. She is recognized by the Ministry of Labour in Ontario as a go-to resource on the subject of vision enhancement and reducing interactions between equipment and personnel; Karly has presented information seminars to industry participants from coast to coast to coast. She also sits on the board of directors of MSTA Canada.
At Provix, Karly works full time on supplying and providing technical advice on the service/support of mobile safety systems such as cameras, lighting, proximity detection, and remote video systems to increase safety and production efficiency.
She also works with mining engineers to analyze operations for the purpose of determining specific requiremets for designing and deploying custom video systems throughout North America. In addition, she has worked with mobile equipment departments at both surface and underground mining operations to enhance safety and productivity on heavy equipment.
Karly has participated in studies with Laurentian University covering a variety of types of heavy equipment for the purpose of identifying blind spots, no go zones, and enhancing operator sight lines for safer operations and greater productivity.
Provix Inc. is a progressive and forward-thinking organization that specializes in finding and providing logical solutions to many types of problems and issues.
Provix specializes in vision enhancement and video camera systems with rugged capabilities that provide the functionality required for the task at hand. From thermal imaging in the oil sands, to FireWatch cameras for heat detection, to police and fire service use, to temperature sensing for industrial and health care applications, the company develops cost-effective solutions to meet the challenges of modern day life. Provix solutions increase productivity, make workplaces safer and provide peace of mind to workers and management around the globe.
Contact Karly Winfield at +1 (519) 803 5805 / firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to assisting you!