Web Exclusive: Operator safety

By |  June 27, 2011

Caterpillar Inc. says its Cat Detect enhances safety by enabling improved awareness of mining operations – both in the areas immediately surrounding equipment and the overall mine site. Detect, a capability set within Cat MineStar System, provides both operators and mine managers with a comprehensive overview of all assets. The Cat MineStar System is a comprehensive, scalable and integrated mine and mobile equipment management system purpose built for the mining industry. Detect itself is also scalable and offers a range of capabilities – Vision, Object Detection, Proximity Awareness and Personnel – so mines can choose the size and scope of system that best meets their needs.

Starting with Vision, mining operations can install camera-only systems on mobile vehicles, allowing operators to view the area surrounding the machine via an in-cab display. Building on Vision, Object Detection adds radars and in-cab software that provides notification to the operator when an object is detected within the radar coverage area.

Proximity Awareness adds Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) capabilities that allow Detect to display the locations of other equipment and assets beyond the reach of its radars. It also allows programmed information – such as avoidance zones, fixed plant infrastructure and more – to be displayed in the cab. Proximity Awareness will be commercially available later in 2011.

Personnel adds capabilities for tracking individual electronic tags that can be worn, placed in light vehicles or attached to portable equipment. The system gives these tags a presence within the digital mine-site environment, enabling equipment operators to see exactly where people and assets are located in relation to their machines. Personnel will be commercially available in late 2011, as well.


Object detection

The Object Detection capability package in Detect, which was first introduced in 2010 for large mining trucks, has now been expanded to other machine models. The new system builds on, and replaces, the Cat Integrated Object Detection System for large mining trucks and is now available for smaller off-highway trucks, large and medium wheel loaders, large motor graders and large track-type tractors. The system helps operators of large mining machines determine if vehicles or other objects are close during start-up and the first few seconds of machine movement.

The system features a new display format for easier camera image viewing and more alarm levels to better indicate the distance between the object and the operator’s machine. The simple, intuitive touch screen display delivers both audible and visual warnings that enable operators to make informed decisions when moving machines, the company says.

Object Detection is configured for specific machine models to provide optimal coverage around each. The system consists of a touch screen display, short-range radars, medium range radars and one, two or four cameras on the front, rear and sides of the machine, depending on machine type.

Object Detection is wholly contained on the machine and does not require any off-board infrastructure. According to the company, the touch screen interface is easy to learn, which minimizes training time.

The system works automatically. Turning on the machine provides power to Object Detection. When the machine stops, the system goes to active mode, and it switches into camera-only mode after the machine travels a set distance or reaches a set speed. Once the machine is stopped for a configurable period of time or is reduced below the set speed, the radar system reactivates.

Of course radar detects both moving and still objects, and camera views are available at all times. Additionally, any critical zone warning that has not been acknowledged will trigger an audible alarm. When the audible alarm is active, the camera view will switch automatically to the zone that has a detected object. In the event of multiple objects, the camera view will toggle between camera views in zones with objects.

The components are robust and proven in the mining environment, Caterpillar says. Radars used include both short-range radars, which detect objects as far away as 23 ft. (7 meters), and medium-range radars, which have a range of 66 ft. (20 meters).


For more information about Detect, visit www.cat.com/miningtechnology.

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About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at dconstantino@northcoastmedia.net.

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