Tag Archives: ZYFRA Group

Zyfra examines advanced systems for V2V, V2P collision avoidance in surface mining

Development of a legal framework and emergence of new safety requirements at industrial facilities is translating into the need to introduce new information technologies capable of minimising the number of hazards and emergencies, writes Alexey Klebanov*.

Analysis of accident statistics for surface mining operations shows that incidents involving collisions of heavy equipment, running over light vehicles and personnel are the most common type of accident, posing a serious threat to human life and health. Such accidents are primarily caused by poor visibility from the operator’s cabin. The table below shows the most common accident scenarios:

The low manoeuvring speed of heavy mining equipment produces the illusion of safety, while the design features of this equipment create blind spots where the operator is not able to see the surrounding objects.

Collisions of mining equipment with light vehicles causes disastrous effects not only to people’s lives and health, but also on the operational capability of the equipment. A single accident, even if it does not involve injuries, may halt the mining operations for a few days. Costs of repairs, equipment downtime, administrative penalties and loss of production – all of this has a significant negative impact on the efficiency of mining operations.

Let us have a closer look at some of the actual cases described above:

1) The dump truck operator was moving along a service road and failed to see the car of a company’s employee in time and ran over its right side making it almost completely flat (Figure 1). The employee in the car was able to bend down to the passenger seat, which saved his life.

2) Approximately an hour after shift start, a KAMAZ 43118 fuel truck arrived to the refuelling site, and its driver started refuelling a Komatsu PC 2000-8 excavator. The excavator driver did not make sure that there were no people in the hazardous area of the working excavator and thought that the truck nearby had finished refuelling and left. A backhoe operator started turning the boom towards the open-pit bench, caught the truck with the excavator body and tipped it over (Figure 2). The KAMAZ driver was pressed against the ground by the truck cabin.

Figure 1: accident with a passenger car ran over by a dump truck
Figure 2: accident with a fuel truck tipped over

Statistical data on the largest Russian surface mining companies for 2003-2018 shows that 24% of accidents with mining equipment are related to the units moving or operating when people are in the immediate vicinity. This includes 14% of cases with people being in the driver’s (operator’s) blind zone, and 12% of accidents related to reverse movement of the units or movements of their back sides. One-fifth of all these accidents, based on the investigation results, could have been prevented by an external observer who would see the whole picture from the outside.

Currently, administrative barriers such as restricted access areas for people and light equipment, strict manoeuvre regulations and sound alarms when reversing are virtually the only way to protect against collisions. However, statistics show that these measures are not sufficient and do not provide adequate security.

The task of minimising the number of such accidents can be met by using dedicated hardware and software systems that can expand the operator’s visibility without distracting him from his production tasks or overloading him with excessive visual information. Thus, the collision avoidance system for mining equipment should take up most of the information load and should provide the operator with a minimum set of data on the number, type, location and hazard level of static and moving objects located in the working area of a dump truck or excavator. The system has to perform prioritising and ranking of both the current hazard level of the situation based on the distance to the objects, and the intensity of alerting the operator of a possible collision by means of sound and visual alarms while minimising false alarms.

Preventive accident control measures are currently being implemented at foreign mining operations. These vehicle interaction defensive controls can be divided into the following levels (according to The Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT)):

Collision Warning Systems belong to Level 8 (advisory controls) of preventive accident control measures and are the first level for implementation of a more general class of Collision Avoidance System (CAS), which, in addition to the warning functions, provide the possibility of emergency stop of the vehicle in order to prevent an accident (Level 9 of preventive accident control measures). As the emergency stop function requires intervention in the vehicle design or control information channels to operate the actuation mechanisms, the development of such systems requires direct cooperation with the mining equipment manufacturers.

It should be noted that already for a few years the legislation of the Russian Federation demands that underground mining equipment must be provided with collision warning systems. Order of Rostechnadzor No.599 of 11.12.2013 states: “Transport vehicles operating in mineral mines should be equipped with collision warning systems. The collision warning system shall provide the driver with timely notification if people and vehicles are present within a certain radius along the unit path.”

Currently, the law does not require the surface mining equipment to be fitted with collision warning systems, however, the current trends in improving industrial safety indicate that such requirements may be introduced in a few years to come. Thus, discussions are already underway in the professional community to provide mining equipment in opencast mines with collision warning systems.

Let us consider the technologies that are currently used in collision warning systems. There are two main scenarios for collision warning ie Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Person (V2P).

Depending on the scenario, as well as the operating conditions, several technologies are used to design collision warning systems that employ such devices as LiDARs, radars, video cameras or radio communications. The systems available in the market have different prices, working range and are designed for different operating conditions. The main technologies used in collision warning systems include:

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS): a satellite navigation system, which is a more accurate analogue of GPS. High accuracy is achieved by using a ground station which coordinates are constant and do not change. The station serves to correct the measurement error of GPS-trackers on vehicles or carried personnel tags. This method can be used in both scenarios, ie V2V and V2P and is intended for surface mining only.

Operating principle of the GPS-based collision warning system


  • Easy to implement as an extension to functionality of dispatching system for surface mining operations; and
  • Allows to add functional features, eg location of objects on the map, control of proximity to hazardous areas, etc.


  • Not applicable for underground mining operations and enclosed spaces;
  • Requires a stable GPS signal;
  • Depends on the data communication system between the machines and/or the server; and
  • Requires 100% coverage.

Surrounding Radar Scanning Systems: These systems employ radars and LiDARs. This technology is intended for operation in the line of sight area and is used in the V2V scenario. It can be used both for underground and surface mining.


Example of an Orlaco surrounding radar scanning system


  • Fully autonomous operation of each mobile unit;
  • Ability to detect obstacles and lack of roads;
  • Ability to combine information from radars and cameras; and
  • Can be used as a system to prevent collision with obstacles.


  • Operation is possible only in the near zone;
  • High cost; and
  • Is applicable to the V2V scenarios only.

An example of such systems is the Hexagon HxGN MineProtect (CAS) solution that offers 360° proximity detection when traveling at any speed and in all conditions, providing the information on a cabin display. The proximity detection system uses the radar technology to assess the position and movement of potential hazards, using risk-based algorithms to distinguish between safe objects and objects that may pose a collision threat. The situational awareness is further enhanced by calculating the speed and path using the GPS data.

Camera-based systems: As a rule, camera-based systems are used as a supplement to radars or any other technology, because they are highly susceptible to environmental conditions (lighting, fog, contamination of optics, etc) and do not provide sufficient reliability for autonomous application. It can be used both for underground and surface mining.

Radio frequency systems: The UWB (Ultra-Wide Band) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) bands are generally used. This technology is intended for application in the V2V and V2P scenarios. Its operation is based on the exchange of data messages between all the objects equipped with this system within the line of sight with the possibility of terrain following. The distance is defined by measuring the time a signal passes between several sources with application of the trilateration method. This system is applicable in all scenarios and for any mining method.

Operating principle of the radio-based collision warning system


  • Direct interaction between the mobile equipment and carried devices for personnel;
  • Possibility to use in surface and underground mining as well as inside buildings;
  • High accuracy; and
  • Working distance of up to 70-250 m (depending on conditions).

The RealTrac Collision Avoidance System is a good illustration of this technology. Monitoring is carried out in a horizontal plane within 360° at distances from one to 100 m. The system uses UHF to detect presence of mobile equipment or people behind obstacles or corners, as well as the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to check if the operator is in the cabin to avoid false triggering. Proximity detection is performed autonomously both in driving and when the mobile equipment is parked. The system virtually divides the space around the vehicle into three zones:

Proximity detection zones

Attention Zone where people are warned about the presence of equipment within a short distance. It is used to detect a potentially dangerous proximity and helps to alert people of an approaching asset.

Danger Zone identifies a dangerous proximity and alerts people. It serves to warn of a possible accident.

Emergency Zone triggers an alarm signal in an emergency situation or if an extremely dangerous proximity is detected.

As a rule, such systems include the following components:

  • Radio modules placed all around the mobile unit and designed to detect on-board modules of other vehicles and personal tags;
  • An indicator or a monitor, which is installed inside the vehicle to provide visual alerts of hazardous proximity;
  • An on-board computer that calculates the direction and distance to other objects; and
  • A personal tag, which is a piece of carried hardware designed to detect dangerous proximity between the person and mobile mining equipment.

A general comparison of the most common technologies that use radio frequencies is provided in the Table:

All the described technologies have their advantages and shortcomings, so a combination of solutions should be used when the situation requires enhanced reliability:

Possible combinations of various technologies to design a collision warning system

For the operations that employ a dispatching system, eg the OpenMine Mine Fleet Management System (VIST Group JSC) based on the satellite navigation system, one of the efficient combinations is UWB + GPS, which offers a number of advantages:

  • Low equipment cost (through the use of available infrastructure);
  • High accuracy and range of detection, operation in any weather conditions; and
  • Radio frequency range that does not require licensing.

In addition to the dangerous proximity to mining equipment, miners’ lives and health are threatened if they are present in areas of potential rock falls and slides, collapsing walls and other hazards. Automation of operating supervision and warning if personnel enters such zones is directly related to accident prevention tasks.

Such monitoring and prevention of hazardous situations asks for a new role in the company, ie the industrial safety manager, who would provide a ‘second pair of eyes’ without being distracted by the actual production operations. The manager’s location in the mine fleet control room will allow to consolidate all the emerging incident warnings to create a real-time overview of the company’s industrial safety.

Monitoring of dangerous health conditions of employees at work completes the supervisory control. A number of such conditions may not be recognised by the employee, and it is, therefore, important that they are promptly identified and addressed through urgent medical assistance.

All the tasks above are successfully solved using personal wearable electronic devices. If the health checks are included, such a device can take the form of a biometric hand bracelet with the following functionality:

  • Site positioning;
  • Control of entering pre-defined hazard zones;
  • Monitoring of heart rate variations, blood saturation;
  • Detection of sudden height changes (falls);
  • Detection of long periods without movement;
  • Personal identification when detected by mining equipment;
  • Urgent call to the dispatcher;
  • Backup emergency communication channel with the dispatcher; and
  • Immediate reporting to the control system.

Based on the above, it is possible to formulate the general technical requirements for a collision avoidance system:

  1. The system components should be installed on all types of mining equipment, making installation and removal as easy as possible. The maximum installation time for one vehicle must not exceed four hours (for a 130-220 t mining dump truck with a team of two technicians).
  2. The system shall provide the following operating modes:
    – V2V proximity detection; and
    – V2P proximity detection.
  3. The system should ensure real-time proximity detection within the range of 360° and the horizontal distance of at least 100 m.
  4. The proximity detection is to be performed at the speeds of up to 60 km/h.
  5. The system needs to differentiate the hazard zones depending on the distance and colour-code these zones on the indicators. The size of the zones can be dynamic and depend on the speed and direction of the moving object.
  6. Different ways (sources) of alerting shall be implemented for each zone on the operator display or the personal tag depending on the hazard level.
  7. The system has to minimise the number of false alarms.
  8. It needs to be scalable, have a high upgrade potential and allow for integration with dispatching systems.

Selection of a collision avoidance system should rely not only on the current tasks to ensure a specified safety level in the operation, but also on the needs of industrial process management in the company.

Some systems also provide location data for vehicles and people, and can be integrated with the driver fatigue control systems. All the collected information can be used in combination with the permit-to-work system, which may become the first step towards implementation of the Multifunctional Safety System within the operation, which should generally provide for:

  • Control of the current state of the surface mining operations against the design solutions and the mine development schedule;
  • Control of operation of the main mining and transport equipment;
  • Monitoring of geomechanical and seismic processes;
  • Warning and location systems for mobile equipment and personnel;
  • Communication functions, including those with professional emergency response teams; and
  • Availability of other safety systems (subsystems) whic account for the specific features of a particular operation.

*Alexey Klebanov is Science Director at Zyfra Group

Polyus looks for safety gains with Orlaco collision avoidance system rollout

Polyus, Russia’s largest gold producer, is to rollout Orlaco’s collision avoidance system (CAS) across its mining fleet following the successful implementation of a similar system at its Krasnoyarsk business unit in 2017.

VIST Group, which is part of the ZYFRA Group and the exclusive dealer of Orlaco’s CAS in Russia and the CIS, will carry out the installation.

German Popov, Head of the Division at VIST Group, said: “With 30% of all accidents in the workplace, in 2018, caused by mobile equipment, according to the International Council of Mining and Metals, health and safety surrounding vehicle usage is critical. At VIST, we have proved our capability in increasing the safety of mining operations through the implementation of cutting-edge solutions.”

The Orlaco CAS consists of a set of cameras and radars mounted on mining equipment. The information collected from this hardware is communicated to the driver via a monitor, allowing them greater spatial awareness of their vehicle and the surrounding area.

The features include a built-in warning system, which automatically alerts the transport operator to any equipment, people, boulders, poles and stationary structures within a 30-m radius.

The system has been designed to provide operators with greater control over their vehicle for manoeuvring, mainly where space is tight, other vehicles or people may be present in large numbers, and/or weather conditions prove prohibitive.

The implementation of this latest safety solution follows VIST’s 2017 installation of an Orlaco video surveillance and collision avoidance system at the Krasnoyarsk business unit of Polyus. This project was well received by equipment operators, according to a survey, with 77% “fully satisfied” with the installed system and its ease of use, 78% noting an increase in the level of safety in work, and 75% reacting positively to the additional visibility provided by cameras when operating in the dark.

First Ore-Mining looks to VIST’s AI solution for Pavlovskoye lead-zinc development

First Ore-Mining Company and ZYFRA have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that could see the Pavlovskoye lead-zinc deposit deploy artificial intelligence-based solutions for mining and processing operations.

Pavlovskoye is set to become the most northerly mine in Russia, once First-Ore, a Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corp division, moves ahead with development. It is scheduled to have a 3.5 Mt/y ore processing capacity.

The MoU document was signed at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum by Igor Semenov, Executive Director of First Ore-Mining Company, and Igor Bogachev, CEO of ZYFRA.

Bogachev said: “It is more difficult for companies to operate in extreme climatic conditions because of factors such as the high cost of resources and special work safety regulations. The robotised systems offered by our subsidiary, VIST Group, including Intelligent Mine, will reduce equipment downtime by 10-20% and maintenance costs by 15-18%, thereby cutting production costs by 2-3%.”

Intelligent Mine is a set of digital technologies for managing open-pit mining processes based on robotised lоad and haul systems, together with industry solutions in the fields of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. “One of the advantages of the system is that it enables extraction of minerals in inaccessible and remote regions with severe climatic and subsurface conditions,” the digital solutions provider for heavy industries said.

The parties aim to explore a possible project to implement robotics and remote control of quarry equipment at the Pavlovskoye deposit of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. A bilateral working group will be set up within 45 days for this purpose, while the MoU covers a period of three years.

Semenov said: “Rosatom State Corp and First Ore-Mining Company have a strong focus on occupational safety. We are beginning this work in advance, so that the very first ore will be produced using advanced technologies in the safest possible conditions. Cooperation with Zyfra, which has extensive experience in developing digital smart solutions, will help us achieve this.”

VIST working on autonomous drilling project with SUEK

VIST Group (a subsidiary of Zyfra Group) has started developing unmanned drilling technology using an Epiroc Pit Viper 271 for SUEK’s Tugnuysky open-pit coal mine in Buryatia, Russia.

The new system is intended to minimise the number of employees involved in hazardous and dangerous work, while maintaining or even reducing drilling costs, VIST said.

The drill rig will have a pre-set for independent performance of most operations usually performed manually by the operator. It will be furnished with additional functions: motion control, environment scanning (including the possibility of remote presence), automatic testing of the installed equipment, high-precision positioning and emergency shutdown, as well as two-way data transmission, VIST said. At the same time, manual control from the cabin will still be possible in normal mode.

The equipment installed on the rig will include a system of environmental scanning sensors (short- and long-range radars, 3D light identification detection and ranging device) to ensure early detection of any obstacles, bunded areas or cliff edges, and will prevent collisions. A multi-level automatic testing system will prevent the failure of various elements, according to VIST.

The controller will monitor the status of the assemblies and the connection to the server, and compare the data from different subsystems. The server will check the stability of communication with all elements and compare the data received from them.

VIST said: “It is anticipated that this innovative solution will significantly improve operational safety and efficiency in the Siberian mines, which rank among the world’s largest coal mining centres.

“Thanks to the new technology, it will be possible to move drills independently or in remote mode along the stack, drill shafts, assemble and dismantle the drilling assembly and level the platform. An algorithm will be used to determine the optimal sequence of drilling the shafts, taking into account their relative position and type of rock mass.”

The system will operate as follows: The drill operator will move the equipment to the required stack in manual mode. Another employee will then remotely set a drill plan for the rig in this area and engage the independent operation mode. At the same time, the system’s built-in safety algorithms will control the drill’s movement, taking note of the equipment and employees performing auxiliary work in the area. Personnel operating near the drill will be equipped with an emergency shutdown device, which, if necessary, will immediately stop the robotic equipment.

The operator will exercise remote control from his computer workstation located at the enterprise and, if necessary, will be able to quickly take control of the equipment during any process operation, such as in the event of complex non-standard situations. In this case, the digital system will actively help the human operator, warning of potentially dangerous factors while displaying the status and additional information.

Specialists will be able to remotely control the engines, compressors and controllers, moving, turning, mast raising and lowering mechanisms, assembly of the drilling unit, the braking system, drilling itself, etc. In addition, the dispatcher will deal with security issues such as the admission of equipment and people to the automated site.

“In general, however, the human role will be minimised, and if any intervention is required this will only be in rare specific cases,” VIST said.

“The automation systems themselves will cope perfectly well with the tasks. Satellite navigation and special drill control programmes that are activated when directly approaching a specific location will provide incredible pointing accuracy of up to 10 cm. The system will also develop routes for the drill’s movement between the wells, paying great attention to the optimal path and the absence of unnecessary actions and thereby minimising costs.”

The drill, without the intervention of personnel, will be able to level the platform and the mast independently with an accuracy of 1° in two planes, based on two-axis inclinometer readings, processing current data and generating commands to the alignment mechanisms on the basis of this data. Digital control of these mechanisms will be provided, and depending on their design, it will be possible to use mechanical actuators, electrical or control signals through the standard CAN industrial network.

A number of subsystems and algorithms will be created for independent drilling, according to VIST. In particular, a set of sensors for monitoring parameters (feed forces, rotation forces and speeds, gas-water mixture pressure, depths, etc) will be installed in the equipment, as well as a subsystem based on actuators and feedback sensors for assembly build-up and dismantling.

The robotic drill will fit into the enterprise’s existing data environment, VIST said. The existing MTC Karier management system will handle fuel consumption metering and reporting issues, with the newly developed solution becoming part of the Intellectual Karier system. This will make it possible in future to centralise control over several drills simultaneously, including simultaneous operation of these rigs in the same stack.

The company said: “VIST Group has no doubt that the automated solution being developed will prove its economic efficiency during the planned pilot operation and will significantly increase the safety of production processes.

“As we speak, experts are ascertaining the possibility of deeper digitalisation and more advanced operation of the enterprise, addressing all the challenges and tasks dictated by the new industrial revolution that is taking place before our eyes.”

ZYFRA’s VIST Group moves onto automating Kamaz tow truck

ZYFRA Group VIST Group has launched a robotised towing truck project in tandem with Nazarbayev University and Russia-based truck and engine manufacturer KAMAZ.

As part of the project, a five-wheel tow truck, a KAMAZ 5490 Neo, will be equipped with computer vision systems to allow it to detect and autonomously manoeuvre around obstacles such as people, animals, traffic barriers and cones.

The development comes shortly after VIST automated a BELAZ 7513R truck and BELAZ 78250 wheel loader for open-pit mining.

Comparing the two autonomous applications, VIST said: “The implementation of the Kamaz autonomous truck is planned to take place on two fronts: one, the robot KAMAZ, due to its smaller (compared to BELAZ) external dimension, is more manoeuvrable and can facilitate the logistics of closed industrial zones at manufactures of various types, two, in the long run, a train of KAMAZ robot towing trucks could serve for long-distance transportation, probably on a separate lane.”

The team is planning to finalise the project by September, it said.

VIST is also working on completing  its Intelligent Mine project – a complex solution for unmanned surface mining with application of self-driving vehicles. The company is planning to spend a material share of investment provided by ZYFRA to accelerate its R&D projects including self-driving vehicles, autonomous surface mining machines and appliances, broader IoT- and AI-based solutions application as well as predictive analytics, it said.

ZYFRA looks for South America copper mining growth with VIST’s new Lima base

ZYFRA Group has opened an arm of its subsidiary, VIST, in Lima, Peru, as it looks to expand its digital mining offering into South America and the continent’s massive copper industry.

The announcement comes as Igor Bogachev, CEO of ZYFRA, and Mikhail Makeev, Project Director of VIST, start a two-week tour of Chile and Peru taking in visits to numerous mining companies.

ZYFRA has, up until this point, been supplying industrial manufacturers in Europe and Asia with AI- and IoT- based solutions as well as autonomous vehicles. At the end of last year, it reached a milestone of $30 million in revenue, while announcing plans to enter the markets of Latin America as early as 2019.

Mario Rabines, VIST Business Development Director for LatAm, said: “The heart and soul of the world’s copper extraction, Chile and Peru, are being shaken by the latest technology developments. Within the region, the IT and operations departments are ready to change the status quo of the industry. The value proposition of our ZYFRA and VIST solutions will increase the levels of productivity and safety to record levels not seen in the region yet.”

Currently the most advanced miners in South America are performing a number of processes involving cutting-edge technology, such as drilling and transportation of raw materials with the use of robotics, according to ZYFRA Group. In 2019, the majority of industry players may start using new technologies on an industrial scale, the company added.

On top of international expansion, ZYFRA is eager to complete its ‘Intelligent mine’ project – a complex solution for unmanned surface mining with application of self-driving vehicles, it said. VIST is planning to spend a material share of investment provided by ZYFRA to accelerate its R&D projects including self-driving vehicles, autonomous surface mining machines (robots) and appliances, broader IoT- and AI-based applications as well as predictive analytics.

ZYFRA and VIST have developed an autonomous system for drills and autonomous and tele-operated system for mining vehicles as well as self-driving trucks and loaders. These are currently being demonstrated on BELAZ’s earthmoving equipment.

ZYFRA and VIST say autonomous drilling can bring a 16% productivity increase, while autonomous guidance from hole to hole (based on the electronic design imported from a planning system) can come with an 18% productivity increase.

ZYFRA, founded in November 2017, currently operates in Finland, China, Russia, Bulgaria, and India. Its platform connects over 7,000 CNC machines across the countries. At the end of 2018, more than 200 production facilities have been equipped with its products.

The company acquired VIST in November 2018 for $30 million.