One hour faster makes all the difference when lives are at stake

Group | MCE

One of the worst things that can happen in a mine is a fire. When it happens, you need to know how to warn your people. And if you can, how do you know who’s in immediate danger? What stands between them and the rescue forces? Who do you rescue first?

Mobilaris develops position- and sensor-based decision support systems. Real-time location and other data provides a situational awareness that takes underground safety to a whole new level.

What does this mean? We asked the Emergency Services in Skellefteå and our customer Boliden to shed some light on why this matters.

Watch the video here:

Emergency Services and the ambulance unit in Skellefteå have carried out a number of training exercises for responding to emergencies in the mines within their reach. We met Daniel Haarala, in charge of fire protection and hazardous substances, who made it clear what their focus is: it’s all about saving lives.

We also spoke to Samuel Bäckman, coordinator for safety at Boliden, who explained how Mobilaris’ decision support system provides critical assistance to the rescue forces in an emergency situation. He pointed out the importance of the pathfinders. Their analog knowledge of the mine and its layout is what ultimately guarentees the safety of the responders, and the success of the rescue effort.

When the emergency responders arrive, they review the situation together with safety personnel at Boliden. What has happened? Where is everyone, and how can they make the best use of available resources in the rescue effort?

Some mines are very deep. It takes a long time just to get to the people in danger. In a rescue effort, every minute counts.

 – This system allows us to tag even the emergency responders who descend under ground. This way they, too, are represented in real time in the system map view, says Samuel Bäckman.

We asked Daniel Haarala to share his insights from their training exercises.

 – We see major differences between mines that just have entry systems and mines equipped with real-time position-based systems. If there’s just an entry system, we can spend a lot of time just trying to find out if anyone is even in danger, and where they are. It can take up to an hour just to get the information we need to do our job. To then be able to visualize, in 3D, where people are in danger and what obstacles exist, makes coming up with a strategy for what to do, and how, a lot faster.

We can cut that by one hour in the initial decision phase

 – An emergency response like this is likely to span up to 4 hours from when we get the call to when we’ve gotten someone out of harm’s way. With Mobilaris’ system we can cut that time by one (1) hour in the initial decision phase, Daniel continues.

Every time something unforeseen happens, more information is always better. It lets you make decisions based on better input and a stronger grasp of the situation.

 – We work to improve every aspect of our response. To deploy faster, to get to the right place as fast as possible, and, when we’re there, to decide what to do and prepare for that as fast as possible. And, on location, to get in and out as fast as we can. But the biggest gain we can make comes from having as complete a picture as possible presented to us as soon as we arrive, Daniel summarizes.

Mobilaris Mining Intelligence system in use at Boliden

Mobilaris Mining Intelligence system is now implemented for Boliden’s mines at Aitik, Garpenberg, Kankberg, Kristineberg and Renström (April 2017). The system features focused on safety can be grouped into three categories:

  • An Emergency Simulator, where a trainer can create different emergency scenarios based on real-time or recorded traffic, and efficiently train rescue personnel to be even faster and safer. This can be done offline, in a class room environment without disrupting production, so simulations can be conducted frequently.
  • An Emergency Application (as seen in the video) that provides rescue personnel with crucial real-time decision support. This significantly improves the speed and final outcome of the rescue operation. In real-time, at the operation centre, or in the mine, using tablets, rescue forces can see who knows about the situation and who doesn’t, where they are, and who is still in danger. Even the rescue personnel are tagged and appear on the system map All in all, a giant leap in mine rescue situational awareness.
  • A History Viewer that enables efficient retrospective analysis of incidents. By replaying an incident — such as a full-scale evacuation — important insights gained after the fact can be used to further improve rescue procedures.

Samuel Bäckman, Boliden explains;

 – Boliden’s safety is constantly striving to do better and achieve a safer work environment for everyone. Mobilaris Mining Intelligence has been found to provide such an opportunity for us.

 – This started as an aid to production projects. After some time the systems engineering department came to us at the working environment side and had identified quite good opportunities to also use the system for safety features. We had a dialogue and have developed the ability to follow people, include them in the rescue chamber, to determine who has received the evacuation message and the ability to quickly determine if you are in a safe place or not in the event of an emergency underground.

The system allows Boliden to do this operation much faster than before when you had to call and manually check the presence underground. They can track people and vehicles. Fixed objects can also be observed, with attached cameras or other sensors.

 – This type of system containing information on persons and vehicles can also give us the opportunity to take proactive measures. The system can inform someone about to embark on a mining area to make contact with the driver working there so they are aware of each other and thus avoid incidents and accidents. A system like this empowers us to grow and improve in so many ways, today and in the future, Samuel summarizes.

Mobilaris Mining Intelligence takes underground safety to a whole new level.

Expect More To Come.