TRANSPORT: Biggest Order for Fatigue Monitoring System
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Booyco Electronics is forging ahead with the introduction of the unique Driver State Sensor (DSS) at various mines in southern Africa and recently received its biggest order to date from an open pit coal mine in Mpumalanga . This follows successful trials conducted on the mines Cat 777 haul trucks, during which 597 combined driving hours were monitored for fatigue. Booyco has already started equipping the mines haul trucks with the DSS system.
An open pit diamond mine in Limpopo has also ordered the DSS from Booyco after successful demonstration on a Cat 793 haul truck. Booyco Electronics Charl van den Berg says the mine had been testing other fatigue monitoring equipment, and purchased DSS after it successfully showcased.
Booyco Electronics was appointed sole southern African distributor for the DSS product line in 2009 by Australian-based Seeing Machine. The DSS, originally developed in Australia, is a fully automatic driver awareness and fatigue warning system that utilises a miniature sensor mounted on the dashboard of a vehicle. It provides feedback on fatigue and other factors in order to boost operational safety.
Driver Fatigue as a Safety Threat
Van den Berg says Booyco has conducted its own field testing and introduced adaptations to suit local conditions. The company has also obtained approval from industry unions, who recognise the increased driver safety implications of the system.
The DSS is also currently being trialled at Vedanta Metals Skorpion Zinc mine in Namibia on Cat 777 haul trucks.
We trialled the DSS over 361 combined driving hours and the system has provided Skorpion with valuable data about the extent and effects of driver fatigue at its operation, he says. Feedback from the safety manager has been very positive. We are also conducting trials at a cement mine in the Northern Cape on a Mercedes Actros truck, at a mine in KwaZulu-Natal on a Western Star haul truck and at a uranium mine in Namibia on a haul truck.
Fatigue Also Responsible for Loss of Cargo and Vehicles
We are receiving an ever-increasing number of enquiries about the DSS from the mining industry, but there is also a promising amount of interest from the long haul transport sector, he says. Driver fatigue poses not only a serious safety issue, with its associated massive cost implications, but can also lead to damage and loss of valuable vehicles and cargo.
The DSS is customised to suit each unique customer application. It can be configured to provide instant audio feedback to drivers when fatigue events are detected, modulated in such a way that a driver cannot abuse the system.
Unlike other systems on the market, the DSS does not require the driver to wear a headpiece or special glasses and is totally non-obtrusive. The system comprises a number of elements, including a dashboard-mounted sensor, which sees the drivers face and measures eyelid closure and the orientation of the drivers head and upper torso.
Eyelid closure information is processed to determine the level of driver fatigue, while tracking head movement makes it possible to monitor driver distraction. If the driver has not been focused on the roadway ahead for a period, the DSS-IVS (In Vehicle System) detects this event and generates instant in-cab alarms, including audio alerts and seat vibration feedback, Van den Berg explains. Once installed in the vehicle, the DSS is fully automatic. There is no calibration procedure for each new driver.
Possible Solutions to Driver Fatigue
The DSS allows for integration of data into a fleet management system, allowing management to create a fatigue index, not only for individual drivers, but also for specific routes the vehicles may take. In addition, the data can be harnessed to change driver behaviour, for instance, through the introduction of more frequent, but shorter, breaks during a given shift.
Van den Berg relates that in one case the system helped to identify that the cause of severe driver fatigue in a specific vehicle was attributable to toxic emissions entering the cab. In another case, the fatigue patterns of a specific driver led to the diagnosis of the unknown existence of diabetes.
The DSS can be linked to an on-site control room, where operators can monitor driver activity in real time. In the event of a fatigue-related alarm, the operator can intervene and take proactive measures to address the problem, even removing the driver from the shift in extreme cases.
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