Virtual reality training applications for the mining industry

On average, one worker dies every working day, and about 16 are injured in mine-related accidents. Inadequate or insufficient training is often cited as a root cause for many mining fatalities. However, training outside the direct working environment provides only limited real-life opportunities and may fail to make a significant impact within the tense working environment itself.

Virtual reality-based training tools can, by contrast, provide simulated exposure to real-world working conditions without the associated risks. This paper discusses contextual requirements and constraints for virtual reality application development, applied to safety training in mines. Advancements in virtual reality technologies were not limited to mine planning and business decisions. She was working with Mines Rescue and Coal Mines Insurance to study the effectiveness of off-the-shelf technologies, such as virtual reality headsets, to deliver virtual therapeutic counselling sessions.

According to the Black Dog Institute up to one in five Australians have experienced symptoms of a mental disorder in any given year, with mine workers being no exception. Dr Pedram said for these workers, the remote location often served as an impediment to receiving necessary treatment. Dr Shiva Pedram helped Coal Services assess the effectiveness of its virtual reality training. University of Wollongong. Dr Pedram was no stranger to virtual reality in mining, having worked on evaluating the technology as a safety training tool for miners as part of her PhD.

The project specifically focussed on training rescue brigades for extreme or catastrophic situations. Much of it was predicated on the idea that while miners have long had comprehensive classroom-based training to learn about the hazards they would encounter on site, it could never be the same as being confronted with these challenges while underground. To overcome this, industry safety training provider Coal Services developed a cinema-like virtual reality room with a degree screen that was 10 metres in diameter and four metres high. Up to eight miners in full protective gear could enter the room and experience simulated explosions, gas leaks and routine safety inspections with the help of 12 cameras projecting 3D images with full surround sound.

According to Dr Pedram, virtual reality used in this way could be an effective way of preparing miners and rescue brigades. According to a LlamaZOO, a Canadian company that creates virtual reality products for mining companies, the safety benefits of using virtual reality in mining could extend well beyond training. The company believed it was not far off to think that operators could control machinery remotely using the technology to virtually be sitting in the cab of a shovel or haul truck.

Potential future uses could also allow operators to make better use of their downtime by employing virtual reality to escape to relaxing scenes, or even using it to engage at a distance with their families. In addition, the employer is required to provide, as training. Roux ]. Whilst employers are primarily responsible for providing safe and healthy workplaces, the Department of Minerals and Energy Mining in the 21st Century is a high-technology industry that is the lead agent in promoting, monitoring and enforcing strives to reduce risk and improve safety through the use of legislation and initiating prosecution in terms of the Mine improved processes and procedures.

This risk reduction process Health and Safety Act of Guidelines regarding the is aligned with the innovative use of technologies often enforcement of the Act were released in January by the developed for other industries. Interactive computer-based South African Government.

This document contains instructions visualisation systems and their content are an example. In particular, this approach has proved successful with respect to producing Unfortunately, while new training rules and regulations have virtual mine training environments [Schofield et al.

Recent Squelch ; Van Wyk ]. Legislated mine training meetings of Safety, Health and Environment managers at South requirements have also driven much simulation development yet African mines indicate that the mining community needs take-up and acceptance by the industry is still very slow. This improved training tools [Baker ; Moldenhauer ; slow acceptance is occurring despite implementations of Wenhold ]. During interviews conducted at two large interactive training simulations such as those described by South African mines, the mine managers specifically requested Unger and Mallet [], and despite the concept of VR being help for developing new safety training methods.

They introduced in the mining industry in the nineties when low cost mentioned the importance of effective training and the need for simulators were discussed by Bise [] and Denby et al. Moreover, Squelch [] described simulations that ; Stander ]. By rely on repetitive classroom style learning with some instruction contrast to this reluctance, other industries such as aviation, oil being given in a physical mock-up of an underground workplace and gas and medicine have embraced the technology [Stothard followed by on the job training.

If it is assumed that current ].

Immersive virtuality enters mining

The 3. Virtual Reality in safety training taxonomy is based on the early work of Milgram and Kishino []. However, it includes modifications to cover subsequent VR has evolved considerably over the last two decades. VR is currently environments mimic the properties and laws of the real world being used and investigated for providing training solutions in a and beyond, what is often overlooked is that virtual reality can variety of industries and fields such as military, medical, power be associated with other environments.

That is, virtual worlds generation and aircraft. VR has a number of features that appear can be augmented with real images and data. For mining well suited to e-training within mining environments and, in operations this presents a powerful tool from both an operations particular, for hazard recognition and associated remedial safety and training perspective where synthetic images derived from action. The primary features of relevance are: View Real World Large Immersive.

Head mounted video displays with Class 2 capability to show video and computer No No Video Full Individual generated graphics simultaneously. Head mounted video displays with capability to see through to real world and Class 3 No No Optical Full Individual show computer generated graphics simultaneously. Head mounted displays with capability to Class 4 show video of real world and computer No No Video Full Individual generated graphics simultaneously. Large screen s , completely graphic environments that are partially immersive Individual or Class 6 and use real physical objects or haptic No Yes Video Semi group.

Large full surround screen s , completely graphic environments that are fully Individual or Class 7 immersive and use real physical objects or No Yes Video Full group haptic devices to play a role in the computer generated scene. Individual or Device with capability to see through to very small Class 8 real world and show computer generated Yes No Optical Non group Hand held mobile device with capability to Individual or Class 9 show video of real world and computer Yes No Video Non very small generated graphics simultaneously.

Individual or Class 10 True Holographic devices. No No Optical Semi group Table 1. Class 2. Video displays as in Class 1, but using immersive head- Class 1. Monitor based non-immersive video displays — i. HMD's equipped with a see-through capability, with computer generated images are electronically or digitally which computer generated graphics can be optically overlaid. Although the technology for accomplishing such superimposed, using half-silvered mirrors, onto directly viewed combinations has been around for some time, most notably by real-world scenes.

Same as 3, but using video, rather than optical, viewing of the "outside" world. Class 5. Completely graphic display environments, completely immersive, partially immersive or otherwise, to which video 6. Contextual requirements and constraints "reality" is added. Class 6. Completely graphic but partially immersive environments The first research question aims to investigate the contextual e. The findings are categorised as relating to users, generated scene, such as in reaching in and "grabbing" something tasks, equipment, environment, and training.

Class 7. Large full surround screen s , displaying completely 6. Users graphic environments that are fully immersive and use real physical objects or haptic devices to play a role in the computer The Department of Minerals and Energy uses the Mining Industry generated scene. These systems are large spaces Energy ], listing job titles in the mining profession. For intended for individual or group experience. Devices with a capability to see through to the real world observed and interviewed, involving mainly the following jobs: Hand held mobile devices with capability to show video Operator, Loco Driver, Panel Operator, Shift Supervisor, Team of real world and computer generated graphics simultaneously.

Leader, Stope Timberman and Winch Operator. Class True 3D holographic or hologrammatic representations that mix reality with the real world. A total of 43 structured interviews were conducted with randomly selected workers from 10 Shaft at Impala Platinum Mine. The 4. It aims to answer answers yielded the following results: The primary research questions are: Some have a very limited understanding of English. Research methodology years. The methods used were: Online questionnaires completed by trainees after completion of the hazard awareness prototype training It also emerged from the interviews that workers are concerned systems.

The researchers noted that the National Union of Mineworkers organised a formal The researcher carried out naturalistic observations in an protest march in December where thousands of mineworkers unobtrusive manner, watching participants working underground.

Concern is also raised about the production the interviews before or after work activities. Photographs and bonuses offered by certain mines, which might place the emphasis video material were taken whenever possible and where on production at the potential cost of safety. Triangulation was used to confirm and synthesize the data collected from multiple sources. Tasks and associated hazards drill operators work in a sitting position while drilling holes for the explosives. Blasted areas are watered down as part of the Many varying tasks within different underground job categories cleaning process, causing the areas to be wet.

Excessive water is were identified in observation and in discussions with SHE hazardous and can lead to slip-and-fall incidents.

Copyright Statement

For this study, it was decided to focus on the hazards associated with these tasks from the perspectives of: With ground falls being the main cause of fatalities in the hazard recognition, hazard identification, and correct procedures industry, it is essential to correctly identify different geological in addressing hazards. Conditions such as shear zones, joints and dykes should be supported correctly to prevent Hazards can be classified as generic or job-specific.

Immersive virtuality enters mining - Mining Magazine

All the falls of ground, and loose rocks should be barred off. A significant underground workers should be aware of hazards in their proportion of rockfall accidents occur during re-entry after workplace, both in the haulage and in the stope area. All of them blasting, when the initial inspection and making-safe procedures should be able to identify and fix generic hazards, while job- are conducted to stabilise the rock before work recommences. For example, a Generic workplace hazards generally relate to support conditions, winch operator may encounter various hazardous conditions while ground conditions, inadequate escape ways or obstructions in working with the winch, which the rock drill operator may not be escape ways, fire, exposure to unsafe electrical connections, exposed to, but since the winch cables and snatch blocks are used humans in proximity of the area where loose rocks are to be within the stope area there are some generic winch hazards which barred, and working under unsafe roofs or sidewalls.

These all workers should recognise.

Virtual Reality In Mining: Pushing The Boundaries

Analysis of the data obtained via interviews and observation led to the categorisation of generic hazards into five task groups: Training environment and organisational Employee actions, Geological conditions, Machinery and aspects equipment, Good house-keeping and Sub-standard conditions. For each of group, workers should be able to recognise particular Training is done in accordance with the unit standards specified hazards, correctly identify them and follow the correct procedure by the Mining Qualifications Authority. Most mines have training in dealing with them.

This training is predominantly instructor-led and occurs in a class- 6. Equipment based environment. In general, the use of technology in training is limited, but some mines do have computer-based training During underground observation, the researcher noted that the facilities. Class room training is usually followed up by practical equipment used by workers depends on their particular duties. For training in the real work environment, until the instructor certifies example, a cheesa might use a pinch bar to make an underground the trainee as competent to perform the work correctly and safely.


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A factor of concern is the lack of assessment after these refresher courses for ex-leaves. Sometimes Workers are required to wear the correct PPE Personal Protective workers merely sign a form indicating that they have worked Equipment , which usually includes a hard hat, overall, boots, ear through the files. Not wearing the correct PPE is also a generic hazard.