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The Reality of Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS) – They’re Not All Created Equal

For the next few issues of our Mine Digitization and Automation series, we going to get real about Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS.) We’re not just going to discuss why they are important, but also why it is important to choose the right product. The truth is the stakes couldn’t be higher. 

RTLS – When Visibility Counts the Most

Visibility. Some might find it ironic that visibility is so crucial in an environment of the deepest darkness where no light penetrates. Of course, we’re not discussing simply seeing what is in front of us underground; that problem was solved long ago. 

In modern mining visibility means your teams knowing what is happening in real time across the vast distances people and machinery will work and travel in large underground operations. Even in smaller mines, Groundhog understands that knowing how all the moving parts are interacting with one another is critical to safety and productivity. Real Time Locating Systems help peel back what is between the surface and your operations. 

Let’s talk about why this is so important in terms of who can see, what can be seen, how we can see, and which data can be collected to improve on what we see.

Some competitors, like Pitram, limit this visibility to dispatchers, mine managers, and supervisors. But with everyone having a stake in knowing what is going on in such a complex environment, Groundhog believes it is important to include your maintenance and safety teams, and yes, even your operators. As we all know, communication and planning are essential to safety, and both are enhanced by visibility. 

Nothing keeps mine management awake at night quite like contemplating that they may not be able to locate their people and direct mine rescue accurately if the unthinkable occurs. When minutes count, “good enough” isn’t good enough. 

Common Features of RTLS

This is why, while it is true that most RTLS systems have common features, providers that have focused on open pit mining are not bringing everything you need to the table. The RTLS system you want is the one that is purpose built for the underground environment by a provider with the greatest maturity in underground solutions. And Groundhog is that provider. 

What can you expect from any RTLS, regardless of whether it is Groundhog, Pitram or Deswik?

  • 3D underground map.
  • Current location display.
  • Check the loading status and operator name visually on the map.
  • Initiate waypoint rules, including alarms and cycle status.
  • Monitor personnel working in hazardous locations where regular contact is required.
RTLS

The Groundhog RTLS – Out Ahead of the Competition

This is all good and important. But remember what we said about good enough? 

Here’s where GroundHog’s RTLS leaves its competitors in the dust:

  • In addition to locating no-go zones, the Groundhog RTLS also locates refuge chambers and connects safety teams in the mine with Groundhog’s safety platform to provide prompt emergency response.
  • Personnel tracking is also integrated with the platform so safety teams can promptly locate people in case of incidents and accidents.
  • Our RTLS enhances traffic control underground. Vehicles can be restricted in no-go zones or accident routes, and task scheduling can be set to automatically to ensure equipment is assigned to tasks away from them.
  • Via the Ops Center 3D map, operators can see a simple snapshot on their tablet for traffic management and collision alerts for nearby vehicles only at 50 m and 20m distances, while competitors like Pitram do not provide such a localized view. 

Safety and RTLS – A Powerful Message

This covers safety, which is always the main priority…and also carries a powerful message. A change management note: Workers may initially grumble at the implementation of an RTLS, and often complain of being “watched” by management. However, when the features that keep workers safe and promise better response in the event of a mishap were communicated fully and sincerely, their concerns are diminished. The truth is that nobody has time to watch individual operators do their jobs – the proof is in the results. But nobody has time to waste when lives are at stake, and that’s when visibility really counts. 

That said, your day-to-day efficiency is important as well. We’ll talk about that next week when our Mine Digitization and Automation series continues its look at Real Time Locating Systems. 

Learn More about RTLS>>> RTLS Tags: Real Time Location Tracking Enhances Safety and Efficiency in Underground Mines – The Mine Digitization and Automation Company (groundhogapps.com)


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