“The majority of falls are due to a lack of warnings,” Lamond said. “This motion-sensing sign picks up motion when you near a dangerous location and gives auditory and visual warnings.”
Lamond said the applications are numerous. Smart Signs can be used to identify areas for storage, fuel bays, or underground levels, drifts or accesses.
Mines that have underground access via ramps can post right-of-way signs. “Ramps underground only have single-lane traffic,” Lamond explained. “If a driver (heading for surface) gets to a certain location, the sign would signal to the other person waiting to go down. This avoids right-of-way issues, and wasting time and fuel backing up.”
Signs can be designed to work with computer software and probes to monitor gas, air, sump levels and seismic activity. They can also be integrated with sonar probes for ore/waste pass and fill pour monitoring.
A strobing portable supervisor sign is a motion-sensing, back-lit briefcase-like device containing multiple hazard notices that can be inserted, depending on the location and area deemed dangerous. For example, during blasting, a sign could be posted stating: “DANGER blasting”.
“It allows a supervisor to put up warning signs for all the common hazards he would have underground,” Lamond said.
Another innovative product that has captured the interest of several mining companies is a guide-laminating device designed and patented to cut out the wear-zone of guides in conveyance systems. The idea is to laminate a smaller piece back into the wear-zone, eliminating the need to change the guides.
“It reduces the cost between 30 and 50 per cent, and increases safety.”
Lamond said the majority of the guides in North American mine shafts are made of Douglas Fir. The practice has been to remove the old guides and replace them with new ones. A standard timber measures six-by-eight inches by 24 feet in length.
“I did lots of work in shafts,” he said. “I thought it was a real waste of time and effort to change out a whole string of guides when really only a small piece is affected or worn.”
In 2004, Lamond began developing the idea to simply change out the worn part, during which time he hired 3-M chemists to test various adhesives and laminates. In 2006, he successfully tested and monitored a guide replacement in a local mine.
Over the next three years, various engineered prototypes were created and tested at Hard-Line Solutions with the final product completed this past fall. Lamond plans to manufacture the product and has a team ready to go.
“The big advantage to this process is that it reduces risks to workers and assets,” he said. “It reduces costs by eliminating shutdowns and it requires less time to perform the work.”
Lamond said a 4,000-foot shaft would normally involve a five-week shutdown, running crews 24/7, accounting for more than 100 eight-hour shifts. His process can reduce it to less than half the time – approximately 20 to 40 shifts.
“We can complete 200 lineal feet of shaft in seven hours and 15 minutes. The saws are cutting at 10 feet per minute.”
For conveyances carrying people, regulations require British Colombia fir as the replacement laminate, but for skips, a UHMW (ultra high molecular weight) abrasive-resistant polyethylene laminate would be used.
Lamond sees a bright future in the international market for this process, and as safety awareness increases, so will the demand for the customized Smart Signs.
“The time is ripe for innovation,” he said. “The ones using it will succeed.”