by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – THE adoption of internet of things (IoT) solutions, including smart devices, by mining companies is set to boost safety in the industry.
This is the restatement by the mobile network operator, Vodacom, which believes its wearable devices will augment mineworker safety.
In mid-2021, the first successful trial of the Connected Worker solution by Vodacom Business was introduced to a global mining company with various operations across South Africa.
The solution centres on a connected, track-and-trace wearable device for mineworkers, with a linked data-insights dashboard that gives real-time feedback to health and safety officers.
In this trial, the company deployed 8 000 devices which enabled better oversight and management of worker safety, team productivity and the resource scheduling of contractors.
“It goes without saying that improved safety and productivity are an added benefit which in turn results in cost savings for the operator in the long run,” said Thando Sibindi, Managing Executive for Mining Resources and Manufacturing at Vodacom.
The smart device, resembling a smart watch, is based on NarrowBand Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology.
This improves the battery life of the device, even in hard-to-reach coverage areas, such as a mine.
The device can be hooked onto a mineworker’s personal protective equipment (PPE), with features including a device-battery status and GPS location, hazardous-gas sensors, fall and no-motion detection and a panic button.
Health and safety in South Africa’s mining industry has steadily improved over the past 15 years.
In 2007, the industry recorded over 200 deaths.
The number has been significantly reduced with 72 fatalities reported last December.
Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources, noted the ultimate goal was “zero harm.”
The global number of connected IoT devices is growing rapidly.
There were 11,3 billion in 2020.
Estimates suggest this will exceed 27 billion by 2025.
“The reality is ‘fit for the future’ companies across various industries are embracing internet of technology solutions because they’ve started reaping the benefits of an IoT-led future,” Sibindi concluded.
– CAJ News