Mining Industry Emergency Event Management
From very modest beginnings in New South Wales, Australia, Nepean has grown to become a major industrial player with an integrated network of manufacturing companies providing goods and services across Australia and far beyond. Such has been the success of the company over the decades that they have reorganized into four divisions to deliver their engineering, mining, and capital equipment solutions.
Continued success in such a competitive market is only possible through constant innovation and by determination to stay at the forefront of technological progress and Nepean is keen to improve the quality of products and services they offer the mining industry by bringing to market an integrated and automated monitoring system for use in mines.
Nothing is more important than safety. Nepean recognizes that fact and is well aware that their clients recognize it too. One of Nepean’s main customers in the mining industry is Peabody, a world leading mining corporation and the largest privately owned mining company in the world, serving 26 countries on six continents. Peabody place the safety of their facilities and workers as a priority second to none and are constantly seeking ways of enhancing that safety to ensure that their record remains second to none.
Nepean has long sought a means of integrating and automating all their remote monitoring systems in mine safety, and offering this integrated package to their clients as an efficient and cost effective means of ensuring that the signs of impending trouble – no matter how minor – are picked up on and highlighted to the management teams of mining facilities. Having enjoyed successful collaborations with Softage in the past during the development of a software designed to assist rescuers in the aftermath of a mining incident, they turn to us again to assist them with the technical aspects of this new and exciting project.
The theory behind the system is very simple: It monitors remote sensors placed in various areas of the mine, and compares the data recorded by those sensors to a predetermined list of alarm thresholds. The information is constantly displayed on screen to a Control Room Operator (CRO). If one of the thresholds is passed, it gives rise to an ‘alarm event’ which is specifically highlighted to the CRO. An alarm event is only triggered if all the predetermined criteria which have been selected for that type of event have been reached.
The system consists of a number of components. Firstly, there is the data collecting service which transfers the information from the sensor to the processing server. These sensors may be depth gauges monitoring water levels in a mine, gas detectors monitoring for the presence of deadly and highly explosive methane, or sensors listening for movement in the rocks which might presage the imminent collapse of a tunnel. The second component is the data layer and data processing service which receives, records and manipulates the raw data to ensure that it is in the format and subject to the processing that is required.
The third component is the desktop alarm monitoring and processing GUI application which takes the processed data and presents it clearly and simply to the CRO, allowing him or her to take in all the information at a glance, and highlighting metrics which are out of the acceptable or expected range. Finally there is the a Rules Editor where the values which will cause the system to record an alarm can be amended.
The system is hosted as windows services under Windows OS. It includes real-time data collecting from mine sensors, and then the real-time processing of that data, and comparison of the results of that processing against the preset alarm conditions. The alarm thresholds are also monitored in real time and the results presented on a GUI to the CRO. Separate alarm reports are generated by the system when a threshold is crossed, and an alarm is sounded, instantly drawing the attention of the CRO to the suspect value. Finally, the system has a series of administrative facilities which allow the company operating it to manage users and user groups and to control access to various areas of the system.
Softage starts work on the system in March 2012 and a prototype is rolled out in June 2012. We are now working with Nepean on an updated version of the system which will be web-based and rely on Microsoft’s Silverlight technology to collect, process, and present the data.
The team allocated by Softage to Nepean project is able to use their extensive knowledge of MS SQL, WCF and WPF. The development of the updated version of the system is also bringing into play their expertise with Microsoft .Net 4 and Silverlight 5 to deliver the web based product.