Orica helps to keep explosives truck drivers safe with virtual co-pilot system

Keeping drivers and operators safe in mining is not restricted to large rigid haul trucks. In FY2022, global explosives and blasting systems major Orica conducted a driver assistance trial in Latin America to identify new ways to improve vehicle safety. Rita Carvalho, Head of SHES at Orica LATAM told IM that the trial comprised a ‘virtual co-pilot’ system that controls and monitors the speed and velocity of vehicles from external transport carriers delivering Orica products and provides real-time information on the risks and hazards of the defined route to drivers.

The system incorporates a digital Risk Route Assessment (RRA) that records the speed and velocity of the vehicle per route section and provides real-time information to the driver and a supervisor of the transport company whenever a vehicle exceeds the system’s recommended speed limit, parks at an unapproved location or when the driver has insufficient rest during the route.

Carvalho said: “Safety is Orica’s number one priority. These measures ensure the safety of drivers by preventing injury and fatality, and the security of Orica’s products as they are being transported. Safe and timely delivery of our products are outcomes for our customers. We are also working with our contractors to provide training and awareness sessions onour requirements and the fundamentals of vehicle stability, as well as encourage immediate feedback about driver behaviour and performance.”

An awareness training related to vehicle stability called ‘Slow down on the route’ was developed and distributed across the region, with a focus on Orica MMU™ (mobile manufacturing unit) drivers and external carrier drivers to minimise the risk of rollover events. Modules that formed the training included: Speeding and how to navigate a curve safely; centre of gravity and weight and centrifugal and centripetal force; plus rollover contributing factors and liquid load and case study. Every MMU™ driver and external driver who provides services to Orica in LATAM has to complete and pass the training.

Designed to shape driver behaviour is another program called ‘Sharp eyes on the road’ that has been rolled out in Brazil. A pilot was launched in Peru with external transport carriers being invited to participate in two workshop categories. Firstly for supervisors to introduce and explain the mechanics of the program and how to implement it. Secondly for drivers, where the 10 most frequent causes of events on routes were identified and fed into a checklist.