Caterpillar launches new Connected Worker system for extra layer of mine site safety

Expanding the Cat® MineStar™ Detect portfolio, Caterpillar has launched Connected Worker, a Guardhat™ developed safety and productivity solution for surface mining operations, at MINExpo 2021 in Las Vegas.

The Connected Worker system combines smart wearable technology with the power of analytics to deliver an added layer of protection against a variety of safety risks at the site.

Scalable to accommodate both small and large operations, Connected Worker improves safety by alerting all connected workers of hazardous situations in real-time, delivering up to a 50% reduction in lost-time reportable incidents, according to Cat. The system’s ability to track worker location plus enhanced communications through audio, video and image transmission also help to increase mine site productivity. A range of safety, productivity and benchmarking reports, customisable to fit the site’s needs, boosts operational efficiency, Cat says.

The worker safety system consists of three major components: the wearable hardware; software that captures and reports data; and the Internet of Things (IoT) platform that receives reports from the field and pushes out potential safety risks to workers.

Creating a safer working environment, Connected Worker helps to detect and report hazardous areas at the mine, unsafe exposure to environmental elements and communicates alerts to affected workers. The system communicates evacuation orders, fall detections, SOS signals and geofence violations, the company added.

There are three wearable options available to communicate with workers. An alternative to PPE, the HC1 Hardhat delivers real-time positions through an embedded global navigation satellite systems chip. With the use of Ultra-Wideband at the site, the hardhat wearable increases situational awareness indoors by offering 3D-tracking – longitude, latitude and elevation – helping to quickly locate a worker in an emergency. The hardhat features video and audio call, push-to-talk, and offline geofence and recording capabilities.

The TA1 wearable tag delivers tracking GNSS and Bluetooth tracking outdoors. It provides SOS, evacuation and social distancing alerts as well as notifies workers of geofence breaches. Workers can capture images and videos to report hazards, which are automatically shared with the safety control centre, so teams can quickly develop geofences around the hazard to boost worker safety.

A companion hardware for hybrid deployment, the smartphone app for Android™ devices offers a solution for managing and monitoring team members in an outdoor environment. The app allows field managers to communicate with workers, issue SOS alerts and can be used to capture images and video of hazardous areas for reporting.

Offering a deeper level of communication and reporting than other systems, Connected Worker creates a safety ecosystem at the mine site, where actionable data is captured and stored for analysis, Cat says. The SCC allows managers to view worker location and data in near real time to quickly communicate unsafe situations to workers in the field. All data is captured and stored on a local server or in the cloud, depending on the mine’s preferences.

A broad range of customisable reports allows mines to review, analyse and predict hazardous situations to prevent future safety incidents. Among the system-generated reports are: overview reports of selected events; zonal reports of violations and emergency evacuations; location reports with heat signatures designating highly travelled areas at the mines; and sensor reading reports that include temperature, noise, humidity and pressure of the working environment.

Connected worker will be commercially available in the March quarter of 2022.