South Africa mining has an excellent reputation for using technology to overcome challenges—and today’s challenges are no exception.
There’s no doubt that South African mines face a new set of challenges in the 21st Century relating to the security of their infrastructure and personnel. But, as in the past, this is one industry that understands the power of technology to move itself forward—one of the reasons it continues to be one of the bedrocks of the South African economy.
Security presents a number of challenges to the mining sector. The mine’s infrastructure, its equipment, its products and, pre-eminently, its people all need to be secured. The theft of kilometres of railway line in the Nigel area (at a replacement cost of some R25 million) and the disappearance of metal manhole covers, poles and other infrastructure from city streets are evidence of the fact that crime is increasingly unchecked in a country where unemployment is rife and policing is in crisis. Mines themselves suffer ongoing theft of their infrastructure by employees and criminal syndicates—not to mention their product. In addition, mining supplies like explosives are targets.
In addition, volatile labour situations mean that the security of mine personnel above ground has become as pressing an issue as it is underground. The trouble is that mines typically cover large areas, so securing their perimeters using traditional means is both costly and ineffective.
TeleEye, manufacturers of TeleEye surveillance solutions and distributors of FLIR Thermal imaging and OPTEX REDWALL detection products, has developed a high-tech solution to help mines secure their perimeters, no matter how long they are, with central monitoring.
Philip Smerkovitz, Managing Director of TeleEye South Africa, explains how it’s done. “The first step is to analyse the mine’s perimeter. This is something that our highly-trained and experienced consultants do in conjunction with experienced Systems Integrators and the mine’s technical team. Together, we then specify and design an appropriate solution,” he says.
While each solution is unique because it’s designed in response to the reality on the ground, Smerkovitz says the main elements include FLIR Thermal cameras, analytics software, REDWALL advanced detectors, a network infrastructure and communications. FLIR Thermal cameras are situated on carefully sited poles, and are connected back to the control room where intelligent analytics automatically analyse the images. The analytics can identify threats and trigger appropriate alarms. The analytics eliminates false alarms, thus reducing costs significantly. “Because the system is thermal, it is effective day and night,” Smerkovitz adds.
Alarms are also generated using REDWALL advanced detectors including Fibre Intrusion and long range Outdoor Passive Infrared Laserscan devices.
The solutions can also be enabled to log all events and actions by the security personnel, and video images can be stored on a dedicated server. Remote operating capability can also be provided via TeleEye BS: 8418 (British Standard) compliant video servers to enable security personnel to view images, receive video alarms and respond to deter intrusions using PA systems and other deterrents.
FLIR Thermal automation cameras can also be used inside the mine to assist in preventative maintenance by, for example, enabling the early detection of overheating equipment.
TeleEye has already secured perimeters greater than 15 kilometres long, and understands how to deploy the various technology components to create an early warning intrusion detection solution that monitors and records activity whilst deterring intrusions, taking perimeter security to a new level.