HomeCarriersOrange, De Beers use BLE geofencing for worker safety in deep-sea diamond mining

Orange, De Beers use BLE geofencing for worker safety in deep-sea diamond mining

Orange Business Services, the enterprise services division of France-based carrier Orange, and De Beers Marine South Africa, part of diamond company De Beers, have developed and deployed a customised IoT solution to provide geofencing to maintain safe working distances for crew in offshore deep-sea diamond mining. 

The solution has been piloted on the world’s largest offshore diamond mining vessel (MV), the Mafuta. Owned and operated by Debmarine Namibia, the Mafuta operates up to 150 kilometres off the coast of Namibia, in southern Africa.

Diamond mining vessels bring crew and heavy machinery into close proximity. The new Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) based solution, embedded into wrist sensors, was developed to raise safety standards, in response to the ‘zero harm’ objectives of both De Beers and Debmarine Namibia.

Orange Business Services initially collaborated with De Beers Marine in South Africa to develop a wearable ‘precision crew locator tool’ to integrate with onboard antennas. A pilot saw it import CAD (computer-aided design) files of the Mafuta’s layout, and run a site survey to map antenna locations to geofence a predetermined area on the vessel. Ten crew members were equipped with wrist sensors. If one of the crew breached the geofenced area onboard the vessel, the ship’s bridge was alerted immediately.

De Beers Group Technology, the research and development arm of De Beers, is exploring additional applications, such as a breach alert function to link the sensors directly to the mining machinery via a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) control system and PLCs (programmable logic controllers), to facilitate a failsafe cut-off in the event of a breach in the geofence.

Gerhardus Theron, vessel manager of the MV Mafuta said: “Debmarine Namibia has a very clear aim of ‘zero harm’ across all our operations, and we are constantly looking at ways of enhancing employee safety and especially around the heavy machinery required for diamond recovery operations. 

“The initial engagement consultation and joint workshop with the team from Orange Business Services was very productive and quickly identified the potential for an IoT solution to ensure the wellbeing of personnel onboard the vessels. We quickly moved to a pilot phase, which has now confirmed the potential of this innovative approach that we could embed within our existing safety processes and procedures.”

Keith Matthews, country manager for South Africa at Orange Business Services, said: “The geofencing pilot has already proved successful in one of the most challenging heavy industrial environments – a floating diamond mine at sea, with prolonged exposure to strong vibration and corrosive saltwater. The next phase of its development will aim to refine the interface and data collection capabilities, and include testing a trigger function to deactivate machinery in the event of a breach of the geofence by a crew member.”

Previous post
Vale and Vivo to extend private LTE to Serra Leste mine in Brazil
Next post
Key EU smart farming project claims advances in IoT interoperability, data sharing