March 1, 2011
Proximity Detection: Strata’s Next Step Toward Safety

 

Strata Products Worldwide has long been known for effective, cutting-edge safety technology. With a strong foundation in roof supports, Strata has built a good reputation over the years of bringing quality products and services to the market in response to industry and customer needs. The newest of these efforts: proximity detection and collision avoidance.

At the start of the new year, the Georgia-based company announced that its shareholders had acquired proximity detection business Frederick Mining Controls of Huntsville, Alabama, which resulted in the establishment of Strata Proximity Systems.

“The formation of Strata Proximity Systems and the acquisition of Frederick Mining Controls is a significant step forward for both Strata Worldwide and the HazardAvert® system,” Strata Chief Operating Officer Mike Berube said in January.

The alliance gives Strata global distribution rights to the HazardAvert system, management of other HazardAvert distributors, and also the management of all distribution and marketing aspects of Strata Proximity Systems.

“The companies can effectively meet the growing market demand for these systems and provide the support required,” Berube added. “Together, we have the resources to enhance the technology as well as increase production capabilities.”

In May 2010, Strata Safety Products signed a distribution agreement with Frederick Mining Controls to provide HazardAvert to an underground mining industry seeking to protect its miners from proximity-related fatalities and injuries both underground and at the surface.

The acquisition was a natural progression that Strata is taking even further by investing considerable time, effort and resources into the enhancement of the system’s development and manufacturing.

 

An inside look at HazardAvert® proximity detection

HazardAvert is designed to detect the presence of a miner in a hazardous location, or red zone, around a machine. Should a worker enter this zone, the system will issue a warning signal – most often a combination of audible and visual alarms – to notify the individual as well as the machine operator of potential danger. The system can even slow or stop the machine if necessary.

 

On each machine, a generator is installed, which creates zones using electromagnetic fields. A small, lightweight device known as the Personal Alarm Device (PAD), carried by the miner, can detect these fields and emit warning alarms. A Tracking Display Pod positioned in view of the machine operator displays the system’s status and indicates the location of any warning alarms triggered.

Providing the best solution

Unlike other proximity detection systems, HazardAvert can be used with multiple miners and multiple machines without interference. Each PAD will interact with any piece of equipped machinery, and there is no limit to the number of workers or vehicles that can be outfitted with the system.

The zones created by the generators are highly customizable and are configured according to customer requirements. Strata Proximity Systems sets the zones as specified and these remain stable unless altered by trained technicians.

 

Proximity detection’s international impact

Looking at the success of the technology in other coal-rich regions, including South Africa and Australia, it would seem that the United States is behind in providing miners with comprehensive safety above and below ground.

HazardAvert is already widely used in underground coal mines around the world, and has a proven success rate for use on all equipment in the mining section. The technology has been successfully implemented into day-to-day operations of mines where management has created and adopted the system.

“South Africa is further advanced and is actively using proximity detection,” Strata President Rory Paton-Ash noted. “Countries are looking to South Africa to see what they are doing.”

Strata’s global presence has helped with this growth, with the HazardAvert system available at its offices in South Africa, Australia, Europe, China and the United States. 

From here, Paton-Ash said that the company’s job as a safety product provider is to use the information registered by these systems to improve mining practices. With or without proximity detection, pinning and crushing hazards will still exist and cannot be fully prevented without examining the true reasons and mechanics behind the accidents.

As the demand for proximity detection increases, Strata’s focus will be to expand its application to every piece of machinery mine-wide. It is also working to incorporate HazardAvert with its CommTrac communications and tracking system to transmit system information immediately to surface staff.

For more information please contact Vito Virgili at 724-255-1609.