Tag Archives: Hans Wahlquist

Epiroc brings its Mobilaris Mining Intelligence safety tech to surface mining

Epiroc is expanding its digital solutions in the surface mining industry with a launch that includes a new safe blasting module and a new release of Situational Awareness, a product previously available under Mobilaris Mining Intelligence.

The updated Situational Awareness release has a new feature with the capability to direct warning messages to people located in defined risk zones.

With over 10 years of experience and 40-plus installations globally, Epiroc is now taking its safety technologies (previously called Mobilaris Mining Intelligence) to the surface mining market.

The surface-based capabilities are smart solutions that help plan, execute and monitor surface mining operations, and are based on Epiroc’s technology for underground mines. Epiroc integrates 3D situational awareness with open-space positioning and satellite imaging to create a 3D map of the blast area, including surface blast zones and tunnels.

“The world’s best digital decision system for underground mines has just surfaced,” Global Director of Product Management for Epiroc, Hans Wahlquist, says. “Our technology-agnostic solutions are improving safety at mining sites but also increasing efficiency by reducing the time spent looking for people or assets.”

He added: “Although open-pit mining faces different challenges than underground operations, it also shares many similarities. We are now unleashing battle-proven solutions from underground mines to create new values for surface mines.”

The new surface offering includes several solutions with the following new features:

  • Situational Awareness comes with a new feature called ‘Zone-based Messages’, which enables the personnel in the control room to send messages from the Situational Awareness application to people in designated areas of the mine. These messages can be information, warnings or alarm messages. They can be persistent messages in dangerous areas or, in some cases, instant messages. Zone-based messages can also be automated through Event Automation scripts triggered by IoT sensors for ground stability, etc
  • Blast Support is a new digital decision support tool to ensure improved personnel safety at blasting. Three dimensional visualisation with open-space positioning gives the control room an overview of everyone’s location.

Epiroc Product Manager, Magnus Nilsson, said: “Before pushing the blast button, it is crucial to ensure that everyone is at a safe distance. But at the same time, it is important to blast on time so as not to jeopardise the next shift’s opportunities to deliver. With Blast Support, you can evacuate designated areas for blasting. With real-time tracking of people through tags, you can be sure that the area is cleared.”

The complete surface offering includes Situational Awareness, Blast Support, Emergency Support, PocketMine, Event Automation, Tags and Virtual Tags.

Epiroc equipping LKAB Kiruna personnel with new Mobilaris safety solutions

LKAB is further increasing its safety capabilities by implementing several solutions from the Mobilaris Mining Intelligence platform at its Kiruna mine in northern Sweden, Epiroc says.

The platform, now 100% incorporated into Epiroc following the consolidation of its ownership in Mobilaris MCE AB in 2021, allows all employees to receive alarm and crisis information and confirm directly on their mobile phones in an emergency situation, Epiroc says. Employees can also obtain position support and the ability to navigate faster to rescue chambers with the help of applications on their mobile phones.

This means rescue personnel will now have the tools and means to manage emergencies better and faster, according to the OEM.

Joel Kangas, LKAB’s Kiruna Mine Manager, said: “We want to shorten the time from when an alarm goes off to when everyone is safe, and we believe this digital solution can help us with that.”

Hans Wahlquist, Global Director of Product Management at Epiroc, said: “LKAB already has a high level of safety, but now there are new technologies and new opportunities, and they have the infrastructure required for this installation. This project will give everyone in the mine more information about the situation in real time.”

LKAB is setting a new world standard for mining where digitalisation forms an important step towards easier, safer and more efficient work in the mine. The mobile safety solution project is a collaboration between LKAB and Epiroc, involving both existing products from Epiroc and new developments. The project began in the autumn of 2022 and the goal is to start rolling out the solution in the spring of 2023 at the Kiruna mine.

Andreas Ericson, General Manager Epiroc Mining Intelligence, said: “Collaborations with customers are crucial for finding innovative solutions. This project demonstrates the potential for digital transformation in the mining industry, bringing us one step closer to a smarter and more efficient future.”

The following four modules from the Mobilaris Mining Intelligence portfolio are included within the project:

  • Location of people with the ability to receive alarm and crisis messages on their mobile phones through Mobilaris Situational Awareness and Mobilaris Virtual Tag;
  • Distribution of emergency messages and support provision for getting people to safety through Mobilaris Emergency Support;
  • Three dimensional map in vehicles for navigation assistance, increased traffic safety and the ability to quickly find the nearest rescue chamber through Mobilaris Onboard; and
  • Three dimensional map on the employee’s mobile phone for navigation assistance and the ability to quickly find the nearest rescue chamber through Mobilaris PocketMine.

MCE sets new underground mining rules with Event Automation platform

Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering (MCE) is putting the power back in mining engineers’ hands with its new Event Automation platform, according to Hans Wahlquist, VP Business Development & Strategic Product Management for Mobilaris MCE.

Having previously provided advanced software that optimises underground operations through its Mobilaris Mining Intelligence product family, the company is now going one step further with its new automation platform.

Wahlquist describes Mobilaris Event Automation as a tool to enable mine engineers to make full use of the information that comes from: location data of machines, equipment, materials and personnel; the status of work tasks in the shift plan; sensory data from various monitoring systems; machine data from a mixed fleet; and much more.

IM put some questions to Wahlquist to find out more.

IM: In a recently published piece, you mentioned your new solution will “unlock the next level of control room capabilities in its innovative Mobilaris Event Automation platform”. Can you expand on this? What capabilities are being addressed with this update? Why are you addressing these now?

HW: For a long time, Mobilaris has made underground mines transparent with cutting-edge situational awareness, including 3D visualisation and technology-agnostic tracking using a large spectrum of positioning technologies from various vendors. With the new Event Automation platform, we take this further, allowing mining engineers to create advance automation features themselves.

Earlier on with the product development, we made mining personnel aware of vehicles, people, etc. Now, we allow them to create automatic actions based on rules involving the location of assets, the status of assets and sensors, etc.

This has, until now, pretty much only been possible with the help of quite costly integrations with external automation frameworks and using experts. Now, this can be done by the miners themselves in a cost-efficient way.

IM: Where will Mobilaris Event Automation provide the most value in underground mining? Will the value come in energy savings or mine site productivity?

HW: The possibilities are virtually endless. Energy saving functions like Ventilation on Demand (VoD) is, of course, a given example on functions that can be implemented using the Event Automation framework. Additionally, there are numerous productivity possibilities that are unveiled with the advent of Event Automation. One example is the opportunities to easily create valuable key performance indicators and tailored dashboards.

IM: How does the solution differ from, in ventilation applications, numerous VoD solutions already on the market? Is it the ability to tailor these actions that is the unique selling point?

HW: Traditional VoD solutions involve costly experts and costly integrations. As an underground mine is an ever-growing operation, these solutions need constant maintenance. With Event Automation, this can be made by mining engineers themselves which makes an Event Automation-based solution less costly, more tailored for the mine’s unique requirements, etc.

IM: Among the numerous systems Event Automation can integrate with, what is the most revolutionary for the mining sector?

HW: As Event Automation is based on the Node-Red framework from IBM with more than 2,500 existing integrations, the probability of the devices/sensors the mine already has already being integrated into Event Automation is high. Examples could be various gas sensors, smart rock bolts, etc.

Just imagine when you, as a mine engineer, can create an automation rule that involves the location of people or machines with the status of various sensors, which triggers actions such as sending a warning message or triggering an alarm.

IM: What mine site has Event Automation already been deployed at?

HW: Event Automation has so far been deployed in large mines in Canada.

Mobilaris Onboard easing the traffic flow at underground mines

One of the features of the new Mobilaris Onboard™ real-time situational awareness technology can, according to Hans Wahlquist, VP Business Development & Strategic Product Management for Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering, solve the majority of an underground mine’s traffic congestion issues without the need for any additional infrastructure.

As Wahlquist says, traffic congestion is one of the biggest time thieves in a modern underground mine.

“Even as there are bays to park in and let someone pass by, it is difficult to know if there is anyone coming my way,” he says. “Additionally, if I do know about an incoming machine or vehicle, it is still a possibility that the parking spot I am planning to use is already occupied by another vehicle. Simply put, using the radio to avoid traffic congestions is not a perfect solution.”

A traditional approach to solve this is the creation of an advanced traffic management solution where traffic lights would be controlled in order to manage the traffic. Solutions like this are expensive to build and deploy, according to Wahlquist.

“Luckily, these problems can now easily be mitigated with the advent of a new revolutionary product called Mobilaris Onboard using the patent pending Mobilaris Hybrid Positioning™ technology,” he said.

“With the advent of Mobilaris Onboard mounted inside a vehicle, you will get a virtual ‘radar’ that warns you about any vehicles coming your way. As the Mobilaris Onboard knows about all assets in the mine and who is moving and in what direction, together with its own location and direction with an accuracy of 5-10 m, we can create an early warning before a potential traffic situation,” he said. “This enables you to sort out the situation before it will turn into a problem.”

This new feature is called Traffic Awareness.

“We are confident that Traffic Awareness will solve the majority of your traffic congestion issues without any additional infrastructures for high precision positioning or traffic management solutions,” Wahlquist says. “The theory is simple but powerful, if two vehicles meet and both drivers see each other, they will directly know who should give way to whom.”

Investigations have shown traffic slowdown in ramps and other areas with dense traffic are one of the biggest contributors to lost productivity.

Wahlquist explained: “From a recent study at a Canadian mine, a truck round trip from stope to rock breaker averaged 20 minute; as small as 10 minutes, and as large as 50 minutes. The large variation in ramp time could be attributed to, in part, congestion on the ramp and/or rock breaker. By reducing the longest round trip from 50 minutes to, say, 35 minutes (but not changing the average), an extra three to four trips could be possible per shift. This would be facilitated by Onboard to keep ramps and haulage ways clear for priority truck traffic. Queuing time at the rock breaker could also be reduced as truck travel time becomes more repeatable.”

In addition to the productivity gains that Traffic Awareness enables, the effects on safety are huge, according to Wahlquist. “Traffic Awareness is not the same thing as a Collision Awareness system (CAS). Instead it gives drivers the needed awareness and a very early warning that something is coming their way. It will not replace CAS or Proximity Detection Systems but instead work as a very important complementary ‘long range’ system.”