How Machine-Learning Improves Safety

This is the third part of the four-part series to explain how the drone and machine-learning solution can help quarries and mines reduce cost. (For Part 1, please visit Using Machine Learning to Make Blasting Design Cheaper, Faster, and More Intelligent and for Part 2, please visit Cost Saving in Drill and Blasting with Machine Learning.) In this blog post, we focus on how the drone and machine-learning solution can help quarries and mines improve safety and reduce cost.

Safety is a priority to any quarry or mine. Safety issues introduce risk and consequences to the workforce and can be highly costly to operations.

Based on statistics from Mine Safety and Health Administration, American quarries and mines are safer than ever. The fatality rate and injury rate are both at their historical lows:

MNM_US_Mines_-_Fatality_and_All-Injury_Rates_CY__1-5-17_Page_1

The number of violation citations is also at a historical low:

US_Mines_-_Number_of_Citations_and_Orders_CY_Page_1

But safety violations are still costly to quarries and mines. As of calendar year 2015, MSHA’s fines totaled more than $ 60 million to quarries and mines.

Dollar_Amount_Assessed_CY_2000-2015__1-4-17_Page_1

And MSHA has been raising its fines.

The monetary cost of incidents is merely one unfortunate consequence. Any incident, especially a fatality, is difficult for any company and its workforce in a variety of ways: an incident can lead to extended downtime due to investigations; it might also impact the workplace morale.

How can the drone and machine-learning solution helps quarries and mines improve on safety and reduce cost? The drone and machine-learning solution can do so in at least three ways.

First, the drone and machine-learning solution in general improves efficiency. We have mentioned in the previous blog post that it helps quarries and mines cut surveying time by at least 50%. Less time to complete the job means less likelihood for an incident to occur.

Second, operating the drone remotely eliminates the hazard by removing personnel from the hazardous area. For example, using drones will no longer require laser profilers being used in situations where field person has to walk around the cliff and risky highwall corners.

Overlooking

Thirdly and lastly, the drone and machine-learning solution can automatically spot potential safety violations. For example, substandard berms are among the top ten violations identified by MSHA.

In the year 2017, the average fine for berm violation is $657 dollars. But the fine quickly skyrockets if the fined company does not fix its problems quickly. Some companies incur fines in the $10,000s or even $20,000s after a pattern of berm violations.

With the help of the drone and machine-learning solution, quarries and mines only need to regularly take pictures of their haul road with the drone. The software will automatically highlight potential berm issues.

The drone and machine-learning solution allows quarries and mines to improve efficiency, remove personnel from hazardous areas and easily identify safety issues across the site. All of the features contribute to eventually improved safety and saved cost!