Impro in the mining sector

May 2003 Products

Impro Technologies’ focus on developing high quality products has led to it being presented with prestigious awards, such as the E.I.F. Top Product Award for Miner’s Tracking Tag in 1995 and the E.I.F. Overall Winner for Top Product Award in 1996.

To comply with the international approval standards, the products meet SABS and European CE marks as well as recognised British, European, American and German manufacturing marks. Impro first introduced its innovative products overseas in 1991 and now exports to over 36 countries around the world including Europe, Japan, Korea, and the USA. Impro have long been associated with the mining industry specifically in the tracking of miners, management and control of safety equipment and mine security.

Miners tracking

'Dyna-Track' is a tracking system developed by Impro to track the movement of miners underground. An RF transmitter fitted into the miner's headlamp battery pack continuously reports the employee's position. This product may also be used on the surface to monitor the movement of vehicles.

The Miner's Tracking Tag is a small transmitter fitted under the cover of each miner's headlamp battery pack, which provides the necessary power. Each tag has a unique code number, identifying the miner. This code is transmitted to strategically placed tag readers, providing up-to-date information in the whereabouts of all the miners.

Because the tag is mounted in the battery pack, this provides a fail-safe mode of operation whereby the tag will continue to transmit even if the cable or lamp becomes damaged. All the Miner's Tracking Tags and receivers have been successfully tested for compliance with the South African Standard Specification SABS 549-1993 (amended 1995) 'Intrinsically safe electrical apparatus', which qualifies it as being safe for use in Group I gases and for use in a hazardous location in a mine.

Automation

Due to increased production costs Impro's Dyna-Beacon Tags are used extensively in the mining industry for automation and tracking of equipment, freeing expensive manpower to concentrate on more productive tasks.

The tag is a fully self-contained, battery-operated UHF active tag that operates over a range of up to 15 m and is powered from an internal lithium battery, giving life expectancy of approximately three years. The tag's electronics could be packaged to suit customer requirements.

Typical applications are: vehicle tracking where no power is available, for example the tracking of underground vehicles where safety considerations prohibit connection to the vehicle's power supply.

Tracking of trailers or containers. The tag can be used as a beacon. Several tags can be mounted on tunnel walls underground, or other convenient supports. Dyna receivers mounted on vehicles then detect the tags. Where a vehicle is not permitted to enter a certain area, the tag can be used to automatically shut down the vehicle if it attempts to enter that area.

Asset tracking

The AIM range clips on and utilises the power of the Psion Workabout handheld computer and passive identification technology to read small robust epoxy tags attached to assets such as jackhammers, motors and equipment. The tags may be bonded directly to metal.

Safety

The miners tracking tags mounted inside the cap lamp battery are not only used to track the miners underground but also for shaft clearance reporting and management of the lamps in the lamp room to ensure that the batteries are being charged.

Other tags are fitted into the CO and CH4 detectors to ensure that these detectors are tested before they are issued to the miners and again when they are returned. An up to date service record of every unit is maintained and available to management for reference in case of accidents or for maintenance purposes.

Security

The ImproNet access software suite is flexible and provides an easy to use graphic user interface. The software is designed to operate in conjunction with the ImproX range of hardware. The access control software (described here) caters for access control, lift control, alarm monitoring, visitor management, etc. It may also be used as a backbone for asset management, job costing, time and attendance, canteen management, vehicle tracking through gates or control points, building management and many more. Other third party software suites will expand this to a complete facility management system, including interfaces to SAP, Oracle, Sybase, etc.

The ImproNet access control system is extensively used in the mining sector to control access, track personnel and record time and attendance data. The asset tracking tags could be read by the ImproNet system to verify or detect removal of marked equipment from the mines premises.

ImproNet software and ImproX hardware have been integrated into third party systems providing a total tracking, safety, security and automation solution to the mining environment.

For more information contact Laurie Badenhorst, Impro Technologies, 011 476 9186, laurieb@impro.net





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