Eye in the Sky

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Knowing where a potentially dangerous and risky situation exists before being able to see it is a ‘Holy Grail’ in mining operations. Advances in both drone and thermal imaging technology have taken Collinsville mine to new heights in safety.

Collinsville Mine is an ongoing exercise in smart management under sometimes challenging conditions. Assisted by cutting edge technology, part of the Collinsville team, lead by Dan Howard of Technical Services Collinsville Coal, is changing the way the operations team keep up with production goals while overachieving in safety standards in potentially dangerous situations.

Collinsville has multiple thermally energetic locations across the operation. As a result, spontaneous combustion and reactive ground exists. This has an impact, especially in hot hole situations involving explosives.

Safely managing these kinds of situations, and ways to safely gather information on what is occurring is difficult with exclusion zones and risk to personnel.

Drone mounted thermal photography is the technology helping to solve the problem.

Thermal photography also assists in assessing coal stockpile shapes which are less susceptible to self-heating. This allows improved stockpile management by capturing imagery representing temperature variances in the image rather than colour like a traditional image sensor.

To collect and understand information safely, a M300 industrial drone was purchased with an XC3 thermal camera. The capabilities of this camera allow a drone pilot to fly from a safe distance and the quality of information can provide extremely accurate temperatures. Rigorous testing was undertaken to ensure accurate results in real applications for the technology and the resulting data significantly helps in stockpile management and other conditions such as blasting.

The utilisation of stockpile shape performance has resulted in the ability to reduce the health and safety risk from stockpile self-heating in coal stockpiles.

The technology, knowledge, and experience gained can be shared as high value data.

Assistance using the technology has also been provided to two other Glencore operations, and services were also provided to a non-Glencore operation, putting health and safety above the business-to-business competition.

These opportunities to share with the whole industry, and the ability to pick up the technology and deploy it within hours, shows the adaptability in emergency situations with little opportunity for preplanning.

It’s not just on site that it can make a difference and even the local Police called for assistance in a search and rescue around local bushland.

The sensitivity of the camera is powerful enough to filter for human body temperatures and highlight a person in dense bushland.

QATCF 17 Drone 2

While drone technology is relatively mainstream, the use of thermal imagery is a new application to drone technology. Confidence in data collection in difficult and unobtainable situations allows more informed health and safety decisions without creating additional risk.

Fly high Collinsville, it’s what you do best!

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