Body scanning made in SA

June 2011 Integrated Solutions, Mining (Industry)

Scannex is a low dose, full body X-ray scanning machine that produces high-resolution digital X-ray images through which it is possible to differentiate between human body anatomy and foreign objects that persons may be carrying on or within their bodies. The advanced imaging system of the machine incorporates several image analysing techniques so that the entire body can be analysed in a fast and efficient manner.

In order to ensure the privacy of the person being scanned, the setup of the machine is such that fine bodily tissue and skin is not identifiable on the image. However, dense objects such as bone and non-bodily items are easily identifiable wherever it is placed. Also, to ensure the anonymity of the person being scanned the image viewers can be located remotely from the machine.

While the primary application of the Scannex machine is the detection of diamonds, it is suitable in other mining applications such as precious metals. In addition to mining applications the machine is capable of detecting explosives, liquids, drugs and weapons.

The application of the Scannex machine at De Beers Group diamond mines across South Africa and Namibia has resulted in the arrest of a number of mine employees who were positively identified to have been carrying diamonds on them. The illicit trade in diamonds is attractive due to the value of relatively small-sized particles that may be easily concealed on or within the body. In most cases that have been detected, the perpetrators had attempted to conceal their loot by inserting it in the anus. However, the transmission type X-rays of the Scannex machine allowed these suspects to be easily identified.

The operating licence condition of the Scannex machine requires that the accumulative dosage received by any employee does not exceed a limit of 1 milliSievert per annum. To ensure compliance to this regulation the operation of the Scannex machine is controlled and monitored by an independent X-ray dose management system. A special feature within the De Beers Group mines is that the X-ray dose management systems at each mine are linked together and their data synchronised on a daily basis. This feature ensures that should any De Beers Group employee be scanned at two different mines on successive days, both incidences will be recorded by the X-ray dose management system.

The success of the Scannex machine since its first implementation in the late 1990s is undoubtedly proven. Following its subsequent design upgrade and addition of several new image analysing features over time the machine is a most effective tool to enable the protection of valuable company resources.

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