Sound the alarm! The vehicles which sound sirens when speed limit is broken

14 Jul

One South American mining company uses remote vehicle monitoring devices to tell employers when drivers are speeding or brake suddenly. Some systems also sound an internal alarm which warns the driver they have committed an offence.

Satellite tracking devices are used by many mining companies in Latin America to prevent the loss of valuable assets through theft or accident.

alarm

Who needs a speeding ticket when you set off a deafening alarm if you break the speed limit?

How would you feel if your employer had access to automated performance logs of your quality of driving, and to track your vehicle’s movement in real-time?

Loss Prevention – the truck driver’s Fort Knox

Physical checkpoints proved insufficient to keep tabs on transport vehicles’ movements for one mining company in Peru, one of the case studies in a white paper on ‘3 Reasons Why Mining Companies Need Satellite Tracking’. Previously, one checkpoint would record the truck’s departure time, and notify the checkpoint at its destination what time it should arrive by. If it failed to arrive by the appointed time, the search would begin.

The problem was that the journey between mine and foundry took seven hours, and it took a further three to four hours from the foundry to the storage stations. Hundreds of miles of lonely road separated the checkpoints, making recovery of a stolen vehicle and its precious cargo like finding a thimble dropped somewhere in Hyde Park. But with more tree cover.

SkyWave, the satellite communications company that issued the white paper, described how infrastructure provider Geo Supply Peru created a tracking system for the mining company using both cellular and satellite-based GPRS signals. The network coverage for remote regions in Peru is insufficient to give an unbroken picture of the vehicles’ route and location.

The facility’s web-based user interface lets clients check on every vehicle in their fleet at any given point, in real time. Additional functionality is generated through ‘geofences’, virtual gates which automatically notify the client when trucks enter and leave. These generate accurate data on journey time, which employers can use to gauge how far efficiency initiatives are improving productivity.

Finally, the installation of a panic button ensures that, when hi-jacked or held up an emergency message is sent to the relevant authorities immediately, via the satellite system.

 

Don’t brake suddenly… you’re being watched!

Another mining company, that made heavy use of the narrow, two-lane Yungas Road, which has a formidable accidental death rate of 200-300 a year, is an indirect user of SkyWave’s satellites. It contracted Bolivia’s MONNET, provider of applications to manage vehicle fleets for distribution, sales, service, security, cargo and passenger transport, to provide more effective tracking technology for its drivers.

Again, the satellite signals were used in tandem with cellular networks to ensure continuance of coverage. When out of range of network stations, MONNET’s SureLinx device stores detailed location information in its memory, for transmission via cellular GPRS immediately cellular service is again available.

Most significant, though, was the provision of driver performance monitoring. Driver ‘incidents’, including speeding and hard braking, are reported and pooled to generate driver reports and a Driver Performance Index. SkyWave’s white paper says, “This index is a measure of the number of violations per kilometre recorded by the SureLinx and takes into account the severity of the violations. This information allows mining companies to identify drivers that need the most training,” (or will need to find another job), “as well as reward drivers who exhibit good driving behaviour.”

The net result of this innovation, states the report, combined with “Driver training and in-cab auditory alarms when a violation is detected have led drivers to use equipment more carefully and have reduced wear on vehicles.”

Theft prevention measures were also part of the package, with the installation of card readers in each vehicle. Possession of an identification card is as important as the ignition key, as no vehicle will turn on without having first scanned and validated a corresponding ID card.

At least with this efficiency-enhancing innovation, truckers still drive the lorries themselves; the latest emerging technology is self-driving transport vehicles. The drivers will not necessarily be out of a job, as for now the idea is to use the technology to give them breaks while driving, enhancing productivity by reducing the need to stop and rest when tired. Yet there is serious talk of dispatching fleets of several self-piloted transport vehicles, headed nominally by one human-piloted lorry. One thing is certain – the age-old commandment of ‘Don’t take your hands off the wheel!’ might no longer apply.

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