A global mining company was looking to develop an IoT solution that would keep miners safe from heavy equipment on board its advanced offshore mining vessels.

Mining at sea is both challenging and dangerous. This mining company was looking to maintain safe working distances for crew around the heavy machinery involved in its mining operations. To address the issue head-on, the company approached Orange Business Services to explore the possibility of a co-innovation project that would draw on our expertise in both mining and IoT respectively.

Ensuring safety at sea

Mining vessels bring their crews into close proximity with potentially dangerous heavy machinery. This mining company is committed to ensuring the highest standards of operating safety for all its personnel. The Orange IoT solution was developed in response to the mining company’s “zero harm” objectives.

The co-innovation IoT project followed a joint exploratory workshop with the mining company and Orange Business Services, which honed in on IoT technologies, including Bluetooth, Low Energy locators and wearable sensors, as a precision crew locator tool, integrated with on-board antennas and an Orange software engine.

Ships are not the easiest environment for IoT. Conventional Wi-Fi networks do not operate well in the largely steel environment on-board ships. Vibration is also an issue, and salt water is highly corrosive to equipment. In addition, traditional geofencing utilizing GPS does not function adequately on a moving vessel. These needed consideration in terms of design and technologies, tapping into the mining company’s skillset and the IoT expertise of Orange.

Bespoke on-board geofencing

The IoT solution was initially piloted on a mining vessel. Due to limited space on-board the vessel. The mining company deployed wearable sensors to monitor how close crew members were to any heavy machinery.

As part of the pilot, Orange Business Services imported AutoCAD files and undertook an on-board site survey to map antenna locations to geofence a predetermined area on the vessel. A number of members were equipped with wrist sensors. If one of the crew breached the geofenced area on-board the vessel, the ship’s bridge was immediately alerted.

The next phase of the IoT solution’s development will look to refine the interface and data collection capabilities and incorporate testing a trigger function to deactivate machinery if the geofence is breached by a crew member.