New Hope’s Automated Brake Application System: Generating Innovation from Within
On 23-24 May at the Austmine 2017 Conference and Exhibition, we had the pleasure of hosting a number of fantastic speakers who provided input on our theme: Mining’s Innovation Imperative.
The New Hope Group were a finalist for the Miners Innovation Award for their unique and innovative solution of utilising a trip wire with an Automatic Braking System (ABAS). All the finalists were of a high calibre, showing how they have embraced new forms of innovation to increase productivity, safety and sustainability goals for their respective companies.
Michael Jefferys, Maintenance Superintendent at the New Hope Group took to the stage during the conference to expand on the ABAS system that New Hope was nominated for.
Michael demonstrated how New Hope strives to create a culture of empowerment that in turn leads to innovation. By empowering his team, they can assess and implement a solution to a given problem that would have otherwise been catastrophic to all involved.
The New Hope Group, Jeebrobily mine was closed in 2007 but was then reopened in order to rehabilitate in 2009. Due to the change in coal prices and the value of the mine to the community, the mine was then expanded to include the New Acland Mine.
However, there was a road that created a barrier between the two mines. A tunnel was built underneath the road but this soon presented a grave security risk. Due to the height of the bridge the chances of a truck hitting it as it passed through was a threat that couldn’t be ignored. Michael stressed that if this was to occur that it would be catastrophic for the driver, civilians on the bridge and the company’s reputation.
To solve this problem Michael and his team first looked at what other mines had put in place with similar terrain circumstances. One mine had utilised a boom gate, but Michael had seen this system fail before so he was hesitant to implement. Michael concluded that there were too many soft controls and not enough hard controls to ensure the safety of the bridge and those who come in contact with it. The idea solution would be to stop the truck in its tracks before it could hit the bridge.
At first New Hope implemented a laser system that would send a message to a transmitter that would activate the Automatic Braking System. However, there were a number of occasions where a false alarm was raised which reduced the trust in the solution. When the drivers do not trust the safety measures they become ineffective.
Michael and his team decided to look at a simple low tech solution. They implemented a trip wire that runs a connection to a transmitter. Once tripped the transmitter then sends a signal to the truck, sounding an alarm. 2 seconds after the alarm has sounded the brakes are activated, giving the driver time to prepare. Michael and his team tested the system a number of times and reduced the time from alarm to braking from 5 seconds, to 2.
The whole solution was made onsite by those who had contributed to the solution. This in turn empowered those involved to actively think about the project to ensure that it had the best chance of success. One such improvement was to power the transmitter by using solar panels which would charge the battery in the transmitter during the day. The team also tested the product to ensure that no matter what direction the wire was pulled in, it would still activate the warning system. So far they have only had one false alarm which was during cyclone strength winds.
Although this system is currently only in use at this mine, Michael believes that it is a great system to put in place across a variety of mine sites, and even has the potential to be used on civilian bridges. The overall cost including the components for the truck was $1520 which would be very easy to scale.
The improvement on safety through using a simple yet innovative solution is what earned New Hope a place as a finalist for the Austmine Industry Awards. Michael’s in depth explanation about how his team could assess and implement a solution that they felt so strongly about, further demonstrated the innovation that New Hope is looking to encourage and empower.
View presentation slides from the Austmine conference in the member self-service portal