Quarrying & Mining Magazine
Q&MQ&M Comment

Universal GPS tracking

Andrew Hintz

In future mining companies will require GPS tracking of all contractors and subcontractors on a site. By ANDREW HINTZ, resources specialist, Navman Wireless.

I believe the mining and quarrying industry in this country will go the same way as they have in Australia, where they are required to GPS track all vehicles under the Land Transportation Safety Recommended Practice (OGP Report 365).

These guidelines provide advice on ways to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the number of serious road traffic incidents and fatalities through the implementation of land transport safety elements within a management system. The guidelines require IVMS (in vehicle monitoring systems) to be used at all times.

A similar approach here, I think, will be driven (initially at least), by safety and compliance considerations.

Safety as a key driver

QM_June_July_2015_Pg40_2In 2012 the Australian health and safety legislation was strengthened, and as a result there is a significant duty of care placed on employers, with huge penalties when things go wrong. New Zealand has also moved in this direction with the Health and Safety Reform Bill currently before Parliament, and expected to be passed into law in the second half of 2015.

In both Australia and New Zealand a significant percentage of workplace deaths involve vehicles or machines. In business, plant and vehicles represent the third highest cost behind salaries and rent/power. Given that combination it makes sense to focus on minimising risk and ensuring worker safety.

Employers should be thinking about: where are my employees; how are they driving; are the vehicles well maintained; and are they taking enough breaks?

On a big mine site there are many occasions where a worker may be working alone and out of sight of others, so technology that can alert site managers in the event of a ‘man down’ incident is very important.

Better business practices

The mining industry faces multiple business challenges, such as achieving accurate estimating and bidding, reducing profit erosion, keeping machines running, increasing labour productivity and efficiency, increasing asset utilisation, and ensuring the right equipment is in the right place at the right time. Moving to GPS tracking of every machine on site can go a long way toward alleviating these challenges.

With a GPS fleet tracking system you can trend productivity across the whole site, and extract data that allows you to reduce downtime, reduce cycle times, and distribute equipment between job sites more efficiently. The remote monitoring aspect of the system means you can monitor your equipment and workforce on multiple job sites then access real time data to make instant decisions based on what is happening on site.

There is another compelling benefit of universal tracking on a mining site. The data extracted from a GPS tracking system provides proof of hours worked and machines used, and this provides a safeguard for both the employer and the subcontractors.

When a subcontractor submits an invoice, they have proof of the hours worked and machines used. It also gives the main contractor peace of mind: that the machine was on the job and worked these hours.

Universal tracking of vehicles, machines and people on mining sites is the way of the future.

Safety of workers will be the main driving force to this change, particularly with the upcoming changes to health and safety legislation.

Improving business practice and efficiency will also be a key consideration in our very competitive mining industry.

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