The Cooperative Research Centre for Mining (CRCMining)
has developed a baseball cap headware technology to measure and
manage drowsiness in real time, in order to overcome a significant
driver fatigue problem in the coal mining industry.
Known as the SmartCap Operator Fatigue Management System, the
baseball cap technology solves a problem identified in the mining
industry and is expected to be of much wider benefit to other
workplaces where fatigue is a major concern.
Supported by CRCMining member Anglo American Metallurgical Coal
(AAMC), the SmartCap has evolved from a
field-proven prototype in 2008 to commercial trials in 2010.
AngloAmerican is currently deploying the driver headware to its
heavy vehicle drivers and heavy machine operators at its coal mine
sites across Australia, and CEO Cynthia Carroll has confirmed
deployment to mines in other countries will follow during 2011.
Each baseball cap contains electroencephalogram
(EEG) brain monitoring sensors concealed in the
cap lining and uses an operator's brain wave information to
calculate a measure of drowsiness. This calculation is wirelessly
communicated to a display in-cab, or to any Bluetooth enabled
device to alert the driver or operator of fatigue.
Such fatigue is most pervasive in long-haul transport and heavy
industries such as construction and mining, where it is responsible
for hundreds of fatalities and injuries each year as well as
millions of dollars in lost productivity. In the absence of
appropriate fatigue management strategies and technologies, this
problem is exacerbated by the combination of an aging workforce and
increasing demands on operators to achieve production quota.
'Mining companies are committed to safety, and this
commitment has translated into a successful collaboration that will
benefit the global mining industry, and the wider community,'
project manager Dr Daniel Bongers said. 'This project has been
good for industry, and good for Australia. The coming year is full
of promise and excitement for the project team, for CRCMining and
for the mining industry,' he said.
With the look and feel of a typical baseball cap, the SmartCap
has overcome operator acceptance problems experienced at mining
sites where camera or response based technologies have been
implemented in the past.
More information about CRCMining is available from http://www.crcmining.com.au/
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