Tag Archives: Booyco Electronics

BOOYCO EXPANDS PDS FOOTPRINT TO NAMIBIAN MINE

Proximity detection leader Booyco Electronics is equipping 19 mechanised mining machines with its latest Booyco CXS proximity detection solution to enhance safety during the development phase of underground operations at Namibia’s largest gold mine.

According to Anton Lourens, Booyco Electronics CEO, the order was placed by long-time customer Murray & Roberts Cementation, who will be establishing the underground stoping horizon for the Wolfshag zone of B2Gold’s Otjikoto mine.

The contract also includes sensing devices for 120 underground personnel on the operation, which will be located in the employee’s cap lamp to provide an alarm.

“Our equipment will help achieve the highest level of safety by mitigating the risk of collisions between pedestrians and vehicles, and between vehicles, on this project,” says Lourens. “The installation of our CXS units is in line with the commitment by the mine and the contractor to zero harm in the workplace.”

The Cementation Lewcor JV contract will take 28 months. Lewcor Mining is a Namibian company with extensive mining experience in that country. The contract includes a decline of 5.0 m wide by 5.5 m high being driven to the orebody from a portal in one of Otjikoto’s depleted open pits. The operation will be highly mechanised, with equipment including drill rigs, dump trucks, load-haul dumpers and utility vehicles, as well as shotcreting and ancillary equipment.

Lourens highlights that Booyco Electronics’ latest generation CXS system being used on the project is a comprehensive and integrated proximity detection solution. The technology takes a step beyond being just a warning system to becoming a true collision avoidance system.

“The CXS system on this project will deliver Level 7 and Level 8 capability in terms of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Roundtable (EMESRT), and can also accommodate Level 9,” he says. “Although there is not yet a legal requirement for collision avoidance systems in Namibia, our customer and the mine adopt a global best practice approach to all aspects of safety in mining operations.”

With the mine’s location more than 300 km north of Windhoek, it was important that the equipment is robust and reliable to ensure maximum uptime, he says.

“To ensure that the equipment performs optimally, we have trained the customers’ artisans on how to look after it,” Lourens says. “A qualified serviceman from Booyco Electronics will also visit the site regularly to audit performance, assess the equipment and conduct any necessary maintenance.”

A pioneer of proximity detection systems in South Africa, Booyco Electronics’ home-grown technology has seen wide take-up in underground operations – both hard rock and coal – as well as in the opencast environment, plants and warehouses.

“Since our inception in 2006, safety regulations have changed significantly,” he says. “An important strength of our technology is that it has constantly evolved to meet the needs of the industry.”

The company now has a footprint of over 100 mining customers in South Africa, and this Namibian project is part of its gradual expansion into other countries in Southern Africa. He highlights that collision avoidance systems are likely to become increasingly mandatory in neighbouring states as these countries usually follow South African regulations. Major miners are also driving change through the globally recognised EMESRT guidelines.

“The International Council on Mining and Metals is also an important stakeholder in this process,” Lourens says. “The ICMM highlights that transport and mobile equipment accidents were highest cause of fatalities at their members’ operations in 2018, accounting for 30% of fatalities.”

BENCHMARK IN COLLISION AVOIDANCE WITH CXS

Supporting mines in their quest for zero-harm, Booyco Electronics’ CXS solution has leveraged technology to achieve new levels of safety in underground and surface mining environments.

“The Booyco CXS solution is engineered to mitigate the risk of collisions between pedestrians and vehicles, or between vehicles, in operational environments,” says Booyco Electronics CEO Anton Lourens. “This system takes the vital step from being just a warning system to becoming a collision avoidance system.”

Lourens highlights that the Booyco CXS is a best-of-breed system that consolidates everything the company has learnt in its 15 years of serving the sector. By upgrading to a new hardware platform, the system’s software updates can be conducted remotely and more frequently – providing increased functionality. It also allows users to comply with the latest and ever more stringent safety regulations.

“Our Booyco CXS is a comprehensive and integrated response to Level 7, Level 8 and Level 9 safety levels – as defined by the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT),” he says.

The new hardware platform is based on principles proven by Booyco Electronics over many years. Technology includes the reliable and accurate Very Low Frequency (VLF) technology for pedestrian detection, and GPS and radio frequency technology for vehicle detection in surface applications.

“At the heart of the system is the Booyco Host Unit (BHU),” Lourens says. “This receives information from the pedestrian sensors, the trackless mining machine (TMM) sensors and the wheeled mobile equipment sensors. It then conducts the necessary proximity calculations and algorithms to alert users to any impending risk scenarios.”

Lourens also emphasises that this BHU integrates seamlessly with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) systems, either directly or through a third-party interface in accordance with ISO 21815.

“This allows the Booyco CXS to apply Level 9 intervention instructions to the machine, as required to for example automatically slowing it down or bringing it to a complete stop,” he says. “Our flexible, comprehensive approach with the Booyco CXS solution has been developed to ensure that all customers can achieve Level 9 compliance, irrespective of the age of their machines.”

DATA TRACKING SHOWS MINES WHERE TO IMPROVE

Centralising information from its proximity detection system (PDS) hardware and monitoring devices, Booyco Electronics offers mines a rare opportunity to become both safer and more productive.

According to Anton Lourens, CEO of proximity detection solutions leader Booyco Electronics, a single source of information on the mine’s assets is the key to enhancing operations by identifying patterns of unsafe behaviour.

“Our Booyco Electronics Asset Management System (BEAMS) is essentially a central information hub for the mine’s PDS assets,” says Lourens. “The software suite is a web-based application used on a robust database, linking the PDS hardware products and the monitoring devices.”

This provides a single source of data that can be leveraged for greater insight into relevant aspects of the mining operation – raising the level of safety and productivity in the workplace.

“The real achievement of BEAMS is that it allows the data from our Booyco CWS, Booyco PDS or Booyco CXS to be analysed for patterns which indicate unsafe behaviour,” he says. “Customers can then design an appropriate intervention to prevent any further occurrences.”

He emphasises that this allows a mine to paint a picture of the complete working environment, shedding new light on operational issues which were previously not visible. Measuring the working environment and interactions in this way then means that risks and bottlenecks can be actively reduced and managed – boosting productivity as a result. This helps to give mines an in-depth view of the operation and the performance of their related assets.

“We have engineered BEAMS for easy implementation,” Lourens says. “It can be used on web browser platforms, and is designed to be adaptable to the information and infrastructure environment.”

BEAMS can also integrate with the lamp room management systems in underground mines, ensuring legal compliance with lamp room requirements. It helps mines locate its safety equipment such as lamps, self-contained self-rescuers and gas instrumentation.

“BEAMS can be set up to suit the needs of each user,” says Lourens. “It can generate a standard set of reports, or be customised to specific requirements.”

BOOYCO FIELD SERVICE GEARED UP FOR COLLABORATION

Booyco Electronics’ partnership approach to its field service offering ensures that mines can manage the growing complexity of proximity detection systems.

“The increased outsourcing of non-core technical services by the mines makes close collaboration with OEMs vital,” says Booyco Electronics chief operations officer Pieter Wolfaardt. “Our field service offering is therefore designed in support of our business  and to strengthen our  relationship with the mine, so that we effectively become part of the mine’s team.”

The company’s service structure includes area managers coordinating closely with an account manager who – together with a technical team – deals directly with the mine’s engineering team.

“We empower every level of the service network, and encourage leadership and accountability at each level,” says Wolfaardt. “We then provide the tools and systems which allow services to be delivered to the highest standards.”

Among the key collaboration strategies Booyco Electronics identified as a vital component are regular engagement with and regular reporting to the customer. The company intends to engage in monthly meetings with the mine’s engineer where Booyco Electronics’ account manager will give detailed feedback on aspects such as equipment uptime, availability, mean time to repair, services completed, and spares consumed. This information can be discussed and signed off by the customer and include a satisfaction survey that informs continuous improvement.

“An important support contribution to the service function is made by the product specialist – a highly-skilled technician who can troubleshoot on site and take recommendations back to our head office engineering team for technical resolution and possible changes,” he says. “We are steadily growing the number of product specialists from two to ten in the near future to increase this support function to our field service teams.”

Wolfaardt highlights that the company’s service level agreements with mines are driven by the complexity of the equipment, which demands a high level of technical expertise and competence from the OEM.

“Apart from our focused knowledge of our product, a close service relationship with customers  provides the opportunity to share our experience from other sites,” says Wolfaardt. “With our wide footprint of equipment around the region and experience gained over time, we have become aware of what works in differing conditions. This collaborative approach is invaluable when customers are looking for new optimal solutions.”

QUICK INSTALLATION BRINGS MINE UP TO SPEED WITH PDS REGS

Taking advantage of the mining industry slowdown over the Christmas period, Booyco Electronics equipped another South African platinum mine with its latest Level-9 Ready PDS system.

According to Pieter Wolfaardt, chief operating officer at Booyco Electronics, this rapid installation and commissioning was an important compliance step for the mine, and was achieved with minimal impact on its productivity.

“The industry is hard at work to meet Level 9 compliance by the end of 2020,” Wolfaardt says. “By working through the annual slowdown, we were able to avoid disrupting the production cycle while further enhancing the mine’s safety levels.”

Booyco Electronics has been a leader in developing and testing proximity detection systems that incorporate collision avoidance technology and comply with the required Level 9 standard. At this level, electronic systems are required to take mechanical control of trackless mining machinery (TMM) and automatically slow it down or bring these to a stop when detecting a dangerous and significant risk situation.

The recent contract involved equipping 35 underground vehicles with Booyco CXS PDS systems, the third and latest generation of Booyco Electronics’ offering. It included the fitment of 595 Exsence cap lamps, complete with intelligent buzzers and CXS tags, for pedestrians. Testing facilities for all equipment were also installed – in the form of test stations for lamps and vehicles – to ensure every item is fully functional before going underground.

“Great teamwork from our Rustenburg branch – led by our area manager Carel Snyman – in collaboration with the mine’s staff allowed us to respond immediately to the mine’s order and collectively complete the installation and commissioning in just 19 days,” Wolfaardt says.

Among the vehicles on which the Booyco CXS equipment was installed were load-haul-dumpers (LHDs), utility vehicles and personnel carriers, as well as a rock breaker, an ambulance and a road grader.

Wolfaardt highlights that training is a vital element in ensuring that PDS equipment is used effectively. Skilled training personnel from Booyco Electronics were able to train 50 TMM operators and 407 pedestrians before the mine resumed full operations in January 2020.

“Our local manufacturing capacity means that we can control and reduce lead times, giving customers unmatched availability,” he says. “Our quick delivery and installation times are matched by high levels of local support through our footprint of qualified technicians and offices throughout South Africa.”

The mine has also engaged Booyco Electronics through a service level agreement which will include regular preventive maintenance and condition auditing. The software in the equipment provided will also be updated whenever updates are developed, ensuring that safety performance remains at the leading edge of industry standards.

BOOYCO ON TRACK WITH DEADLINE FOR PROVING LEVEL 9 SAFETY

In the light of impending safety regulations governing South African mines, South African-based Booyco Electronics is well advanced in testing its proximity detection systems (PDS) to comply with Level 9 safety standards.

The importance of this testing arises from recent changes in Chapter 8 of the Mine Health and Safety Act, which require mines to take ‘reasonably practicable measures’ to prevent collisions between trackless mobile machines (TMMs) – as well as between pedestrians and TMMs.

Past measures implemented by mines have included systems that warn pedestrians of their proximity to TMMs (Level 7) and systems that deliver an advisory instruction to TMM operators (Level 8).

“The Level 9 standard raises the bar significantly, requiring electronic PDS systems to take mechanical control of the TMM and automatically bring it to a stop when a dangerous situation is detected,” says Booyco Electronics CEO Anton Lourens. “This elevates what is traditionally called a PDS into what is really a collision avoidance – or collision management – system.”

Significantly, Booyco Electronics was the first to begin Level 9 testing in South Africa, which is conducted by the University of Pretoria’s Vehicle Dynamics Group. The tests are aligned with the international standard ISO21815. It is expected that regulations regarding Level 9 compliance will be finalised by the end of 2020.

Lourens says the company’s strong relationships with TMM OEMs has allowed it to make good progress in testing its equipment on their machines in terms of Level 9 standards.

“This ensures that our technology can assist to safely and effectively bring a vehicle to a standstill when required,” he says.

He highlights that the parameters of Level 9 control have evolved over the past year or two. Beyond just stopping a vehicle, the Booyco Electronics PDS can also instruct the vehicle to reduce its speed to a specific level under given conditions.

LOCAL TECHNOLOGY AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF PROXIMITY DETECTION

With mine safety legislation getting progressively tighter, Booyco Electronics continues to ensure compliance with its proudly South African proximity detection system (PDS).

According to Pieter Janse van Rensburg, Booyco Electronics area manager for Mpumalanga, legislation coming into force in 2020 will mean the extended application of Level 9 safety standards. This level requires ‘full intervention’ from a PDS on trackless mining machines (TMMs) to avoid man and machine related incidents.

Booyco Electronics’ PDS can facilitate such collision avoidance, with automatic slow-down and even safe-stop of mining machines.

The system uses VLF antennae on a vehicle to create fields within a danger zone around the vehicle. The size of each field can be determined by the customer, to suit their specific operating environment and addressing identified risk.

An RFID tag installed on the pedestrian’s cap lamp alerts them – through a light and sound alarm – when they enter this zone. The light changes colour from green to orange and then red, the closer the pedestrian is to the vehicle.

The vehicle itself also receives a warning from the PDS, with the operator being alerted that a pedestrian is in the proximity. If equipped and configured appropriately, the vehicle can also be automatically slowed down at a certain distance from the pedestrian, and similarly brought to a safe stop.

One of the most significant advantages of the Booyco Electronics PDS is that it can effectively detect as many as seven TMMs and 20 pedestrians within one field, in the underground environment.

“Our technology prioritises the safety of the pedestrian in mines, whether underground or opencast,” says Janse van Rensburg. “Our mission is to save lives, and to ensure that every worker returns home safely every day.”

The company’s market leading systems are intrinsically safe, working on a clean 12 Volt power supply that will not ignite methane gas or coal dust. Customers value the complete turnkey solution that Booyco Electronics can provide, says Janse van Rensburg.

“Our combined technology includes a very low frequency (VLF) signal that penetrates rock walls underground,” he says. “This ensures that the pedestrian will still be warned of an approaching vehicle even if it is out of sight around a corner.”

The PDS can be applied to older ‘non-intelligent’ machines on a mine as well as the newer, controller area network (CAN) bus enabled models.

“Our data logging capacity is able to capture all information relating to the interactions between the pedestrians and the vehicles, and also between vehicles themselves,” he says. “This provides the mine with a ‘road map’ to track how any incident occurs, making it easier to report and to improve practices.”

The Booyco Electronics Asset Management System (BEAMS) gives mines the ability to extract useful data on risk areas. This can feed into focused training of staff for more effective safety behaviour.

With 13 years of experience in PDS, Booyco Electronics has supplied in excess of 5 000 sets of mining vehicle equipment around southern Africa, as well as 50 000 pedestrian sets of equipment.

BOOYCO’S VEHICLE DETECTION SYSTEM INTERVENES TO IMPROVE SAFETY

As a leader in proximity detection systems, Booyco Electronics is well known for its proximity detection system (PDS) that keep pedestrians safer in the underground mining environment. Its next advance has been to develop a vehicle detection system (VDS) that triggers interventions to prevent vehicle-to-vehicle accidents in line with EMERST guidelines.

Booyco Electronics’ new VDS is an innovative evolution of the company’s vehicle-to-vehicle detection system, and now incorporates the necessary high level of accuracy to introduce interventions in the operation of the vehicles.

According to Booyco Electronics engineer and developer Frank Schommer, the Booyco VDS is applicable in both surface and underground environments.

The system can measure the distance between the vehicles in a range from 10 metres up to 100 metres, with a measuring accuracy of 1 metre; not only can it determine the position of a vehicle but also the direction in which it is travelling.

“This means that the operator will be informed if another vehicle is close by, as well as the number of vehicles there are in the proximity,” says Schommer. “Based on a high frequency wave transmission, the new VDS technology has been developed to comply with the latest safety regulations for moving vehicles on mines.”

While these high frequencies do not penetrate rock in underground mining environments like low frequencies can, they are able to perform the vital duty of detecting other vehicles at a greater distance. Like the pedestrian PDS, the Booyco VDS’s functionality is based on different ‘zones’ within the radio field around each vehicle that is created by a transmitter; the distance of each zone from the vehicle can be defined by the customer, depending on their actual conditions and specific vehicles on site.

“For example, the system can be set so that it delivers a warning to the operators at a distance of 50 metres,” he says. “If no action is taken after that warning, and the distance between the vehicles is reduced, then a second zone is entered, and a command is generated for the operator to reduce speed. If speed is not reduced and the vehicles continue to get closer to each other, an intervention is triggered by the system to slow the vehicles down.”

The accuracy of the system ensures that there is sufficient reaction time after warnings are given for the operator to act, reducing the possibility of a collision.

While the system caters for larger vehicles with longer distances between them – such as on-surface load and haul operations – it is also applicable underground as it can measure long distances between machines through tunnels.

Booyco Electronics’ tried and tested PDS system – which is based on very low frequency (VLF) wave transmission – can penetrate tunnel sidewalls underground; this allows the detection of pedestrians who are out of sight around a corner, but over shorter distances.

“It is therefore optimal to use the VDS and PDS systems together on the same vehicle to achieve higher levels of safety,” says Schommer. “Combining these technologies allows mines to improve safety between vehicles – where the distances to be measured are longer – as well as between vehicles and pedestrians – where it is important to detect workers who are closer but not visible to the operators.”

LARGE BOOYCO AFTERMARKET TEAM RIGHT WHERE CUSTOMERS NEED THEM

With a large aftermarket team of technically skilled and competent field staff, Booyco Electronics is walking the talk when it comes to assisting customers optimise uptime and productivity.

A leader in proximity detection systems, Booyco Electronics strategically employs its fully trained technicians at locations that ensure consistent levels of support as well as a rapid response in the case of unplanned downtime at mining operations.

Graeme Jardine, general manager field service at the company says that its six well-resourced branches allow support teams to reach customers quickly with the right components. There are branches at Jet Park, Kuruman, Richards Bay, Rustenburg, Welkom and Witbank.

“A key element of our operating philosophy is to be as close as possible to our customers,” Jardine says. “Each branch is appropriately resourced with skills, equipment and spare parts to suit the customer base in its jurisdiction.”

Jardine says that the preference when servicing mines with larger fleet is to establish a permanent on-site presence governed by a fixed-term service level agreement (SLA). By having qualified Booyco Electronics technicians on site allows for close and constant monitoring of equipment, ensuring the best performance with minimal downtime.

“Our internal training department plays a vital role in keeping each technician at the top of their game,” he says. “They train and assess technicians in the field regularly, testing their knowledge on the latest upgrades and new technology.”

In this way, expertise is kept current while continuously building experience within a structure of accountability and development. Each customer has a dedicated Booyco Electronics account manager who, in turn, maintains regular contact with the company area manager.

“SLAs include detailed monthly reports which monitor efficiencies,” he says, “giving the customer the data they need to maintain smooth operations and improve performance wherever possible.”

All services, repairs and other incidents are meticulously recorded by Booyco Electronics’ technicians. This aligns with the culture of safety in all operations and ensures ongoing compliance with mining regulations.

“Our training and quality management is so effective that we are able to develop our managers from the ranks of our best technicians. The teams in our support structure have an in-depth hands-on understanding of best practice and this assures customers of high service levels,” Jardine concludes.

HOW BOOYCO USE OF VLF TECHNOLOGY MAKES MINES SAFER

The application of very low frequency (VLF) technology in the development of underground safety equipment has been an important step towards achieving the mining sector’s objective of zero harm, according to Booyco Electronics engineer and developer Frank Schommer.

Booyco Electronics began developing collision warning systems over a dozen years ago, using VLF technology to build a proximity detection system (PDS) for underground mines and becoming a pioneer in this complex field. VLF, says Schommer, is used to generate a magnetic field – based on low frequency technology – around a vehicle, essentially an electric ‘fence’ which is independent of the material present in the immediate environment.

“In other words, VLF technology allows this magnetic field to travel through obstacles like rock and water, maintaining the ‘fence’ at a constant distance from the vehicle,” he says. “This means that the shape of the fence around the vehicle remains exactly the same, whether the vehicle is underground or on surface.”

He notes that the physics of VLF is a well-established area of science and industry and was an important aspect of submarine evolution as it allowed these craft to communicate while submerged as VLF waves can penetrate though water.

“Due to their frequency, the waves are not reflected by walls or other elements of the environment, rather they penetrate these objects,” he says. “This allows our PDS to create this invisible fence around mining vehicles at a certain pre-set distance, depending on the specific application and the customers’ requirements.”

What is vital is that the corners and crossings in an underground haulage will not affect the shape and size of the magnetic field around the vehicle as the waves will penetrate the rock walls and other obstructions that limit what operators and pedestrians can see.

“If the pedestrian is behind another vehicle, for example, or behind a corner in the tunnel, the proximity detection system must be able to pick up and pinpoint their position – and this is what VLF allows us to accomplish so effectively with our PDS solution,” he says.

He describes how the principle of VLF is easily recognisable in daily life, in the case of sound waves from a radio or music playing device. When listening at a distance, it is usually the bass sounds that reach the ear more readily, while the treble sounds – those carried by higher frequency waves – are not; this is because the high frequency waves will be reflected by walls and other objects, so will not travel far.

Surround-sound systems also demonstrate the principle: while there are a number of smaller, higher frequency speakers situated around a room to give the listener the sensation of sound coming from different sources, the system provides only one bass speaker.
This is because the behaviour of the lower frequency waves makes it more difficult to sense the direction of their source.

He notes that, despite the advantageous characteristics of VLF waves, it is still a challenging process to actually create a magnetic field to the exacting specifications demanded by safety applications.
It requires high levels of power in the transmission antenna to generate the field, for instance, and even in the receiver as well.

He emphasises that PDS, when applied in the sphere of worker safety underground, must ensure absolute stability of conditions so that the performance of the technology can always be relied upon to operate optimally and be fit-for-purpose.

“That is the reason why we have used VLF technology as a basis for our solutions,” he says, “as these waves are best able to deal with the reflective environment in underground workings and maintain fields of a constant size or distance from the source.”

Booyco Electronics’ market-leading innovations have leveraged VLF technology to provide valuable functionality for mine safety initiatives; among the most important of these is the creation of detection ‘zones’ within the magnetic field which trigger specific greater operator warnings and subsequent actions.

“Our technology allows us to define the accuracy of these zones to within very low deviation tolerances,” says Schommer. “For instance, our first zone of safety may be 20 metres from the moving vehicle – and this is accurate to within 10 centimetres.”

When a miner – equipped with a VLF receiver and buzzer unit – enters this zone, the system sends a warning through a flashing light and buzzing sound, to alert them to the fact that they are entering a dangerous area.
Importantly, the behaviour of the VLF waves will allow the miner to be alerted even if they are behind a corner or otherwise out of sight of the vehicle operator, when within the detection range.

A second zone, closer to the vehicle, is also set up in the PDS to warn the vehicle operator that there is a pedestrian in the proximity.
If the pedestrian does not respond to the warnings and gets even closer, they will enter a third zone which could now trigger the mechanical intervention: switching the vehicle automatically to ‘creep’ mode.

Should the pedestrian enter the last zone defined by the PDS – even closer to the vehicle – then a second intervention comes into play, stopping the machine in its tracks to avoid any possible collision or injury.