For those miners still operating in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, employee protection is now more important than ever, and this is where being able to accurately detect individuals suffering from elevated body temperatures is vital.
Ionic Mechatronics, a company that develops and manufactures control systems, special purpose machines and complete automation systems for mining and mineral processing firms, thinks its Therm-Assure thermal scanning instruments can provide miners – and their employees – the peace of mind they require to continue operating through this period.
Back in 2015, during the Ebola outbreak, Ionic says it was requested by the World Health Organization to partner with the Canadian Medical Association, to confirm the theory that off-the-shelf industrial thermal imaging systems cannot accurately represent a human subject’s core temperature, nor can they reliably determine an accurate skin temperature, the Sudbury-based company said.
This research has become even more invaluable during the global COVID-19 pandemic where being able to screen employees for elevated temperatures, even if they are not showing any symptoms, has become one of the first lines of defence against the spread of COVID-19.
With the conclusion of that 2015 project, Ionic went on to develop an algorithm that allows thermal imaging systems to accurately identify individuals who are at risk of having a fever. It is this algorithm, the same typically integrated into high-end thermal scanning systems at airports, that is differentiating its Therm-Assure from several other platforms currently on the market.
Built into a rugged military grade smart phone – the CAT 60/61 – Therm-Assure analyses data to look for anomalies; that is, individuals whose thermal scan differs from the average.
“By comparing multiple subjects in real time, the device can identify an individual whose body temperature differs from the norm by less than a degree,” the company said. “Therm-Assure runs on the CAT 60/61, using the FLIR camera on the CAT device. However, it is our software that enables the device to provide quick and accurate identification of individuals with an elevated body temperature.”
Gabriel Janakaraj, Business Line Manager of Ionic Mechatronics, told IM that some of the company’s clients had purchased off-the-shelf thermal tools and found up to 50% false positives from readings, on top of an inability for the tools to work in various environmental conditions.
“Our running average algorithm adapts to changing environmental and atmospheric conditions, reducing the need to continuously calibrate the system,” he said. “We proved our software is key to thermal imaging solution to better detect people potentially suffering from a fever.”
Just some of the company’s mining clients include potash producer K+S, Pan American Silver and Vale. Janakaraj said Ionic had also provided these solutions to industries outside of mining to promote public health.