De Beers trials wearable sensors

Diamond producer De Beers has partnered with telecommunications company Orange on a trial of wearable sensors that monitors the crew’s proximity to heavy machinery on its offshore diamond mining vessel, the MV Mafuta.
De Beers trials wearable sensors De Beers trials wearable sensors De Beers trials wearable sensors De Beers trials wearable sensors De Beers trials wearable sensors

The dredging equipment aboard MV Mafuta, formerly named Peace in Africa, includes a 240-tonne crawler

De Beers Marine South Africa worked with Orange Business Services on the IoT deployment, which pairs wrist sensors with a network that sends out a ship-wide alert if any crew member gets too close to heavy machinery.

Orange imported the Mafuta's AutoCAD files and undertook an onboard site survey to map antenna locations to geofence a predetermined area on the vessel. Ten crew members were equipped with the sensors. If one of the crew breached the geofenced area onboard the vessel, the ship's bridge was alerted immediately.

"The geofencing pilot has proved successful in one of the most challenging heavy industrial environments - a floating diamond mine at sea, with prolonged exposure to strong vibration and corrosive salt water," said Keith Matthews, country manager for South Africa, Orange Business Services.

De Beers Group Technology SA, an R&D arm of De Beers, is also further exploring additional applications, such as a breach alert function to link the sensors directly to the mining machinery via a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) control system and PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), to facilitate a failsafe cut-off in the event of a breach in the geofence.

"The next phase of development aims to refine the interface and data collection capabilities, and include testing a trigger function to deactivate machinery in the event of a breach of the geofence by a crew member," added Matthews.

The Orange IoT solution was developed in response to De Beers' 'zero harm' safety objectives. It followed an initial engagement and joint exploratory workshop with the Orange Business Services team in South Africa and focused on IoT technologies, such as Bluetooth Low Energy locators and wearable sensors, as a precision crew locator tool, integrated with onboard antennas and an Orange software engine.

MV Mafuta, which is currently the world's largest offshore diamond mining vessel, is owned and operated by Debmarine Namibia. It operates up to 150 km off the coast of Namibia, in southern Africa. The dredging equipment aboard the vessel includes a 240-tonne crawler.