Leading the PDS and CPS evolution in coal mining

With a strong understanding of the coal mining industry, proximity detection system (PDS) and collision prevention system (CPS) specialist Booyco Electronics continues to steer the evolution of PDS and CPS solutions that meet specific requirements for both surface and underground collieries.

In line with the mining industry’s quest for zero harm, a stringent safety culture has held a much more prominent role in safety management in coal mines. One of the enabling factors has been the advent and increased take-up of PDS and CPS solutions, an industry where Booyco Electronics has taken a leading role since its inception in 2006, says chief sales officer Graeme Jardine.

From the onset, explains Jardine, Booyco Electronics had a good grasp of the safety challenges faced by the coal mining industry, which informed the development of its PDS and CPS solutions. “With a solid background in coal mining, Anton Lourens, founder and CEO of the company, had a first-hand understanding of the requirements of both surface and underground coal operations.Consequently, right from the start we were able to develop fitting solutions from an informed position,” says Jardine.

Some 16 years later, coal mining remains a critical commodity area for Booyco Electronics, constituting about 25% of the company’s PDS and CPS installed base, with a formidable client base ranging from large coal mining groups to junior miners.

From CWS to CXS

Informed by changing industry requirements, Booyco Electronics has evolved its offering from its first-generation technology, the Collision Warning System (CWS), to the new generation Booyco CXS system.

Based on the technology available at the time, the Booyco CWS found favour within the coal mining sector due to its reliability. Leveraging Very Low Frequency (VLF) technology, the Booyco CWS set the benchmark in the early days, especially in the underground mining environment. Use of VLF technology enabled sensors on pedestrians and on trackless mining machines (TMMs) to communicate through rock walls for optimal safety.

Fast forward to 2022, the latest generation Booyco CXS consolidates the learnings of the past 16 years, leveraging technology to achieve new levels of safety in both underground and surface mining environments. It is a best-of-breed system providing a comprehensive and integrated response to Level 7, Level 8 and Level 9 requirements, as stipulated by Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT).

“Over the years, the technology has evolved from simply a PDS solution, to incorporating many other functions such as tracking and data management. In addition to the safety capabilities, our solutions are now able to provide customers with the bigger operational picture, which includes information such as machine standing time, idling times and cycles times,” says Jardine.

Key differentiators

A key differentiator is the intrinsically safe nature of the Booyco Electronics solution, which bodes well for the coal mining environment. Due to the presence of flammable gases, coal mines, especially underground operations, are susceptible to explosions. One spark and a split second are all that it takes for disaster to happen. The common industry alternative to intrinsically safe solution is for suppliers to supply a flameproof enclosure to house the PDS, which tends to be expensive, heavy and impractical.

“Because they are intrinsically safe, our products are designed within specific system specification to allow them to be deployed in hazardous areas such as coal mining,” explains Jardine. “Typical benefits of this approach compared to flameproof enclosures include cost savings in installation and maintenance of the equipment.”

In addition, Booyco Electronics is one of few companies that can offer PDS and CPS solutions for both surface and underground environments. “Some of our competitors only focus on either underground or surface. By contrast, our solutions and system architecture are by design suited to  all facets of coal mining, making us a one-stop provider for operations with both surface and underground environments,” he says.

Customer relations

Every product is as good as its support, stresses Jardine, who firmly believes that the relationship between the supplier and the customer is key to the success of any PDS installation. A key enabler is the company’s strong support footprint in the coal mining regions of South Africa.

Its fully-fledged branch in Witbank supports the Mpumalanga coalfields, while the Richards Bay branch looks after the Vryheid/Newcastle coal mines. Each branch has a large aftermarket team of technically skilled and competent field staff, assisting customers to optimise uptime and productivity.

“We have always prided ourselves on the fact that of our 330 employees, 190 are technicians, which speaks to our commitment to provide unparalleled aftermarket support to customers. It also enforces our partnership approach to all our PDS installations because we have the technical means to ensure hassle-free operation for our customers,” he concludes.

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