Innovation that saves

Following the December 2022 gazetting of the Collision Avoidance Systems (CAS) regulations by South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), Schauenburg Systems reports a spike in demand for CAS technology. In line with its ‘innovation that saves’ mantra, the company has over the years evolved its offering to meet the industry’s quest for safety without compromising productivity. By Munesu Shoko.
Schauenburg’s systems have been proven in open pit mines and quarries for their ability to display the detected remote objects in eight quadrants around the vehicle, thus greatly increasing operator situational awareness.

In December 2014, the DMRE promulgated the mandatory use of collision prevention systems (CPS), collision avoidance systems (CAS) and motion inhibitors. After years of uncertainty, the regulator brought into law the Chapter 8 clauses of the Mine Health and Safety Act Regulations relating to Level 9 vehicle intervention for collision avoidance in trackless mobile machinery (TMM), both on surface and in underground operations.

Consequently, says Martin Marais, Sales and Business Development director at Schauenburg Systems, there has been a massive increase in the demand for CPS, mainly driven by the mining sector’s need to comply with the legislation. In fact, some of the bigger mining groups started investing in these systems as far back as 2017, well ahead of the gazetting of the legislation.

However, says Marais, there has been a phenomenal spike in demand for CPS in the past two years, with more mines investing in the technology ahead of the anticipated gazetting of the law, which was initially anticipated for December 2025, before the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy signed an order for sub-regulations 8.10.1.2 (b) and 8.10.2.1 (b) in Chapter 8 of the Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996, to come into force on December 21, 2022.

Leveraging lessons learnt over time, Schauenburg Systems developed its second-generation underground collision prevention systems (SCAS II), which uses advanced detection technologies and algorithms designed to save lives and reduce costs.

Knowledge gap

Gawie Croeser, head of the Strategic Business Unit at Schauenburg Systems, says one of the critical foundations to the successful implementation of the technology is to ensure that risk evaluation and the ultimate traffic management plans are done properly. This informs the level of risk on site and the unique needs of a mine from a technology-adoption point of view.

To close the knowledge gap, it is therefore important for mines to consider dealing with reputable and experienced CPS providers who not only have the right technology, but also understand all the critical parameters that are key to the successful rollout of the technology. Having started working on its first generation of collision detection systems as early as 2002 and successfully completed its first commercial installation in 2008, well ahead of the legislation, Schauenburg Systems has ‘paid its school fees’ when it comes to the development of this technology, stresses Marais.

Based on the everchanging market requirements, the company has consistently evolved its offering. “Some 16 years later after the launch of our first system, a lot has changed,” says Marais. “Over time, market needs have evolved from collision detection to CPS, data logging and mapping out of safe zones to avoid impact on production. It is about ensuring the safety of people on site, but without compromising on productivity.”

With the move from collision detection to collision prevention systems, one of the realities is that there are now more stakeholders involved in the process. Apart from the CPS technology supplier, other custodians of the installation are the vehicle OEM and third-party ISO 21815 CAN-BUS interface suppliers.

Schauenburg’s dynamic detection zone algorithm complements the production targets of clients as Potential Unwanted Event detection, which is a function of vehicle speed, eliminates the occurrence of false warnings and Level 9 TMM intervention.

Lessons learnt

Leveraging lessons learnt over time, Schauenburg Systems developed its second-generation underground collision prevention systems (SCAS II), which uses advanced detection technologies and algorithms designed to save lives and reduce costs.

The company also offers two SCAS Surface solutions, the portable Light Vehicle Basic (LVB+) system and the Heavy Vehicle Basic (HVB+) system. The LVB+ system is intended for daily visitors to ensure compliance prior to entering an operational site, whereas the HVB+ system caters for bigger vehicles and fixed installations. The HVB+ complies with the ISO21815 standard and is classified as a full Level 9 system.

Both surface systems offer dynamic zone configurations and three programmable detection zone sizes – warning, danger and critical zone. These zones can be adjusted to best fit individual customer needs and traffic management plans. Furthermore, Schauenburg’s dynamic detection zone algorithm complements the production targets of clients as Potential Unwanted Event (PUE) detection which is a function of vehicle speed and eliminates the occurrence of false warnings and Level 9 TMM intervention.

These systems have been proven in open pit mines and quarries for their ability to display the detected remote objects in eight quadrants around the vehicle, thus greatly increasing operator situational awareness.

Even though the company offers a base line solution, Croeser says Schauenburg appreciates the unique requirements of every operation, and therefore adapts its solution – within its capability – to accommodate each mine’s or quarry’s requirements.

The needs of a big open pit mine are completely different from those of a small quarry. In large opencast mines, assets ought to be confined within the operation, whereas in the quarries, assets are decentralised. In addition, because of the low-margin nature of the business and the price-sensitive approach to buying decisions, quarries generally require low-cost, low maintenance products that speak directly to their unique needs.

“Based on the tripartite meetings between government, the mining sector and labour organisations which we have been attending, the regulator notes that there are about 5 000 quarries in South Africa. In terms of numbers, this is much more than the 400 underground mines in the country. Quarrying is therefore an extremely big market in South Africa, but it is much decentralised, with low quantities of machines per site compared to mainstream mines,” says Marais.

Given these special needs of the market, Schauenburg works closely with stakeholders to provide fitting solutions for the quarrying sector. For example, the company attends tripartite meetings as previously mentioned, between government, the mining sector and labour organisations. In addition, Schauenburg is a proud associate member of ASPASA and attends the surface mining association’s information-sharing events. For the past three years, Schauenburg has been attending the Institute of Quarrying Southern Africa’s annual events.

One of the key trends that stands out for Marais is that quarries want integrated solutions which not only offer collision avoidance capabilities, but also include, for example, monitoring of traffic movement and production on site. Therefore, systems need to be integrated with a GPS type of technology to make data available in real time.

“In line with these needs, we have something exciting coming at the end of 2024. This will allow us to offer integrated solutions to the industry and will reinforce our position as frontrunners in the development of CPS technology, not only in South Africa, but globally,” says Marais.

Martin Marais, sales and business development director at Schauenburg Systems.

Support matters

Whether in an underground or opencast mining environment, the importance of aftersales support in this industry cannot be stated enough, stresses Marais. Once a mine has gone the Level 9 route, the supplier must have enough support available. On the back of growing demand for CPS, Schauenburg has expanded its workforce to more than 1 000, and 70% of that number are service-related personnel.

This is complemented by a network of branches located in all the major mining regions, including Rustenburg, Thabazimbi, Welkom, Fochville, Steelpoort, Secunda and Emalahleni. The company also has advanced plans to open a new branch in the Northern Cape province.

“We are very proud of our extensive support footprint. Over the years we have also continued to invest in people through a fully integrated digital training platform called e-Learning, which is available for both our employees and customers,” says Marais.

In addition, Schauenburg has introduced a digital maintenance tool, Digisol, aimed at capturing all the parts and maintenance performed. In future, the company will invest in analytics to predict issues such as failure rate and risk rate.

In conclusion, Marais says the purpose of this technology is to save lives and improve productivity. In future, communication and optimisation of data from CPS devices will be critical. With that in mind, Schauenburg has developed SmartMine IoT to provide customers with powerful business intelligence and data modelling tools for insights into valuable operational data.

“SmartMine IoT allows us to process data at the source through an edge-computing platform and provides information in real-time. This will allow customers to make split-second decisions to save lives and increase productivity. SmartMine IoT’s design allows us to integrate with any equipment manufacturer’s hardware and accumulate data into a centralised data lake for processing,” concludes Marais.

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