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Orange Business Services, De Beers co-create IoT solution to enhance crew safety in offshore mining

Successful pilot used digital IoT technologies and wearable sensors to monitor crew proximity to heavy machinery. (Image source: kees torn/Flickr)

Orange Business Services and De Beers Marine South Africa, a diamond company of De Beers, have installed and tested a customised IoT solution to provide geofencing to maintain safe working distances for crew members around heavy machinery involved in marine diamond mining

The solution was successfully piloted on board the MV Mafuta, an offshore diamond mining vessels owned and operated by Debmarine Namibia and operating up to 150 km off the coast of Namibia in Southern Africa.

The Orange IoT solution was developed in response to De Beers’zero harm’ objectives. It was followed by an initial engagement and joint exploratory workshop with the Orange Business Services team in South Africa. It focused on IoT technologies, such as Bluetooth Low Energy locators and wearable sensors, as a precision crew locator tool, integrated with on-board antennas and an Orange software engine.

In the pilot, Orange Business Services imported the Mafuta’s AutoCAD files and undertook an onboard site survey to map antenna locations to geofence a predetermined area on the vessel. Ten crew members were equipped with a 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 SA, an R&D arm of the De Beers Group, is now exploring additional applications, such as the breach alert function for connecting the sensors directly to the mining machinery via the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) control system and the Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), to facilitate a fail-safe cut-off in the event of a breach in the geofence.

Keith Matthews, country manager for South Africa, Orange Business Services, commented, “This smart IoT solution developed with De Beers is an excellent example of innovating and co-creating with our customer.

“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 salt water. 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.”