PDS technology, which forms an increasingly important part of mines' safety programmes, is used to detect people, vehicles and structures in the vicinity of mobile mining equipment; some systems are also able to automatically stop the vehicle before a collision.
However, according to Mining3, the effective implementation of PDS is rare, as users don't understand the "technology's true capabilities and limitations, the implications of the technology on operator/operational behaviour, change management issues and the industry's general inexperience".
It also highlighted that "reliability and functionality claims made by suppliers are not easily verifiable by the end user, at least not relative to any known framework, methodology or standard".
Furthermore, PDS solutions use a mix of sensing technologies, including radio frequency, infrared, radar, ultrasonic and LIDAR, which can confuse matters.
"Sites can be further confounded when selecting a PDS unit because little is known about the actual strengths and weaknesses or what is effective/ineffective relative to specific operating conditions," the research organisation added.
Accordingly, mining companies might not know which system type and functionality is most suitable for their operations.
"Simply put, mining companies and suppliers do not have a consistent assessment protocol available to put the systems through their paces to determine how well a particular system might work for a given site," Mining3 explained.
It has created a first of draft of what it describes as a scientifically rigorous, practical PDS validation framework, which has been accepted by ACARP.
The next stage of the project will involve translating and finalising the proposed test procedures into a safely executable field test programme. Mining3 is seeking engagement with expert volunteers from the industry to assist with this process.