Connected World - Monitoring Drivers at the Mine
02/15/2012 - Fleet management is something we think about when discussing delivery trucks, buses, or even construction equipment. But fleet management is also valuable in situations where taking the wrong turn or moving a truck into a certain area could have dangerous consequences.
Overall, implementation of fleet management systems is growing. Analyst firm Berg Insight, www.berginsight.com, says the number of fleet management systems deployed in commercial vehicle fleets in North America is expected to reach 3.8 million by 2015.
The mining industry accounts for just a small portion of those installed systems, but it’s a market with special requirements. A lot of fleet managers want to monitor driver behavior, but in the mining industry that tracking capability can be especially important. inthinc Technology Solutions, www.inthinc.com, has fine-tuned its fleet-management offering to appeal to mining. This means making the system work in rugged and often somewhat isolated conditions.
So how is fleet management different at a mining site? For one thing, there are blasting areas to be aware of. Inthinc’s system deals with this reality by offering blastZones technology with its fleet-management system. blastZones gives manager the ability to create customized geofences around open pit blast areas. It can then send alerts to drivers in realtime if they enter a zone. Managers can also receive alerts, via text or email, when drivers enter and exit the zones. This way they know when the blast area is clear.
Other features include an emergency call button for drivers, crash detection, roll-over notifications, and electronic driver logs. The ability to automatically record driver hours and other data electronically has been an oft-cited feature of fleet-management systems, especially as more fleets are using electronic logs to meet government regulations related to records keeping.
Managers can also keep track of drivers using GPS-based vehicle tracking for location, and sensors monitor driver behavior such as speeding, idling, seat belt use, and aggressive or fatigued driving. In-cab audible alerts will also let drivers know when they are exhibiting one of these behaviors.
A mining site may be located miles from any town, so inthinc’s system uses satellite or cellular connectivity to provide fleet managers data in realtime from anywhere. Fleet management can ease workers’ minds in the potentially dangerous area of a mining site.