Keeping track of costs with technology

May 2015 Asset Management, EAS, RFID, Editor's Choice

Technology is becoming increasingly important in the driving down of losses within organisations and keeping track of security guards. Hi-Tech Security Solutions discusses two products that are diverse in application but lead to increased control and management.

Eliminating water spillage

Anton van der Merwe I-CAT director.
Anton van der Merwe I-CAT director.

Water spillage on mines and construction sites when filling water bowsers and tankers is causing a serious strain on natural resources. Anton van der Merwe, director of operations at I-Cat, explains that when water tanker drivers arrive at water gooseneck filling points to fill up with a load of water for road spraying and dust suppression activities, the process of aligning the water tank opening with the gooseneck supply hose is laborious and frustrating. This is especially challenging when aligning the very large water trucks used in mining operations with a capacity of up to 85 000 litres.

Typically, the driver stops the water tanker below the gooseneck supply hose then climbs out of the vehicle to see what the current alignment of the tanker is. He then climbs back into the vehicle, manoeuvres it using guesswork, climbs out again and repeats the process until he feels it is correctly aligned. In the majority of cases, the alignment is less than ideal and thousands of litres of valuable water spill onto the ground or the tanker is overfilled, with the same results.

In addition to the obvious costs involved in losing the water, there is the time wasted doing a manual alignment, and the driver’s safety and that of others is in question as he climbs in and out of the vehicle and manoeuvres the truck.

I-Cat, an environmental company that is involved in dust suppression initiatives on a number of mines, has developed a simple, yet highly effective solution called the E-Cam. The system comprises two CCTV cameras mounted on top of the water tanker that can be monitored inside the cabin of the water truck, alignment sensors on the exterior of the truck as well as on the filling station.

When the driver arrives at the filling station he uses the camera system and alignment sensors to ensure the water tanker opening and gooseneck supply hose are 100% aligned. After alignment the driver activates the filling process by pressing a button inside the cabin. If the opening of the water tanker is not perfectly aligned with the gooseneck supply hose, the water will not be released.

The system has also been programmed to cater for different sized tanks and will automatically calculate exactly how much water is currently inside the tank and how much needs to be released by the gooseneck water supply point.

The E-Cam system can also monitor and report on water and dust palliative usage by accessing secure software via the Internet. I-Cat’s software also enables client management to monitor the productivity of the driver and vehicle by logging the running hours, vehicle downtime hours and idling time.

In addition, the system incorporates a GPS mounted inside the truck. This enables the movement of the trucks to be monitored by mapping software by control room operators.

On most mines, dust suppression can be drastically improved if the frequency of spraying a dust palliative can be efficiently managed. This is necessary because the under and over wetting of haulage roads damages the wearing course of the road. This can be achieved by effectively controlling the water trucks.

The E-Cam system does exactly that. An intelligent display screen inside the cabin of the truck displays the roads to be treated inside a geographical area. High traffic volume on haulage roads are frequently identified by I-Cat personnel on the mine and relayed to the control room. This is plotted on their mapping software and updated on the display screens inside all the water trucks on the mine.

When the identified haulage road needs to be treated with I-Cat’s dust palliative RDC 20 the road section turns red on the display screen inside the water truck. This indicates to the water truck driver that this specific road section needs to be treated. As the water truck starts to spray the road with dust palliative it turns green on the display screen. After finishing the section, a new section is identified by the software and indicated in red. This will continue until all sections of a road are treated. As time passes, the route will be highlighted firstly as orange, then as red, indicating a new pass is required.

Van der Merwe says that the system easily pays for itself within three to four months. With some of the bigger mines operating a large fleet of water trucks, the cost saving and contribution to environmental stewardship is immense. I-Cat placed six systems on water trucks at a large iron ore mine last year and after successful testing, the mine recently ordered a further 12 units.

The E-Cam was a finalist in the large company section of the TT100 Technology Awards.

Tracking guards and cargo

Brian McKenzie, director, QCIC.
Brian McKenzie, director, QCIC.

The QIC-LOC asset management device from QCIC can be used by both security guards on patrol, as well as for tracking of cargo inside trucks. While some other systems on the market require the guard to download all data at a base station (non-real-time), the QIC-LOC operates on a GSM network with a GPS, to provide real-time downloads.

The system is pre-programmed with specific checkpoints and routes and should a guard be inactive for a specified period of time, as per the GPS, the system will alert the control room and contact will be made with the guard. Should an incident occur, the guard can depress the panic button on the device and an alert will be received by the control room and other specified recipients who can then track his position via the onboard GPS.

The compact device cannot be switched on or off by the security guard as it requires a code for activation or deactivation. It will indicate the time spent patrolling, the distance travelled by the guard in a shift, his speed and which checkpoints have been visited. Virtual geo-zones created in and around a facility will be automatically triggered each time the guard enters the area and this will create an event which is then logged with a date and time stamp. The system automatically calculates remaining battery power capacity of the device and can report on it.

When used as an asset-tracking device, the QIC-LOC has a number of programmable modes – power save, normal and high power. It will eliminate the need for additional guarding of cargo and is monitored through a centralised control room/call centre that works in conjunction with a recovery unit.

For long-haul applications, power saving mode is most suitable. The device sends a signal at the start of the journey and then goes into partial dormancy until the vehicle either stops at any point on the route for more than any configurable period, or reaches the end of its journey. While GSM capabilities are switched off during the journey, the GPS remains active, thus recording the entire trip of the vehicle.

The normal mode is similar to power save mode, but the GPS sampling rate is much higher. The high power mode is commonly used on short-haul routes in Gauteng and this provides near live positioning, and buffers seven positions to within a packet of positions to be sent when the buffer is full.

The system can run for 2 500 km of travel before a battery recharge is required. If left in standby, the battery power will remain intact for up to six months.

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