Why your digital mine needs Proximity Detection

When vehicles and personnel are travelling on the same shared roads and pathways, there is an inherent risk of collision.

This is why it’s critical that all mining, industrial and construction operations invest in a reliable Proximity Detection system that puts a stop to potential risks before they arise.

At MST Global, we have engineered a Proximity Detection solution that provides operators of heavy machinery real-time visibility to personnel and light vehicles in their immediate vicinity, significantly improving safety.

How does it work? The system detects when pedestrians or light vehicles breach pre-set Warning and Danger Zones, alerts everyone giving your team plenty of time to take action.

The comprehensive solution is unaffected by environmental low light, rain, dust or fog and is easy-to-install, making it an attractive, cost-effective option for harsh environments such as the underground mine.

But it isn’t just for the underground – this solution is also a great fit for open pit operations, ports, industrial and construction sites.

In this blog, we explore some of the key benefits of MST Global’s Proximity Detection system, points of difference, and how the technology can improve safety at your smart mine.

How our Proximity Detection system works

First up, let’s dive into the four core components that make up this system including:

  • Controller
  • Magnetic Field Transmitter
  • Operator’s Display Panel
  • Personnel and Vehicle Proximity Tags.

“Starting from the inside out is the Operator Display Panel,” MST Global General Manager Product Management and Marketing, Mark Palmer said.

“This is designed to not distract the operator and allow them to make quick decisions based on what’s going on around them.

“The Personnel and Vehicle Proximity Tags are what we call ‘haptic devices’ which alert people to danger via flashing lights, vibration and/or a beeping sound to overcome all of those distractions in the workplace.

“Then there’s the Magnetic Field Transmitter that creates a low frequency magnetic field, (a bubble around the vehicle). This is the technique that we use to detect the people or equipment in this area.

“Lastly, we have the System Controller, which ties all of those bits together and interfaces with the vehicle as well.”

Why Magnetic Pulse Technology?

One of the system’s key points of difference is it relies on magnetic fields for detection, rather than WiFi or GPS tracking.

We decided to use magnetic pulse technology as it offers unrivalled precision-tracking and is highly effective in detecting distances for both underground and surface environments, whereas GPS can only be used on the surface.

This means the system is enabled to work independent of everything else so in an emergency event or power-down situation, you know it will still operate and keep your personnel safe.

“The magnetic field creates a sort of a bubble around the vehicle, a 360-degree level of coverage,” Mr Palmer said.

“Once you’ve created the bubble around the vehicle, as the vehicle moves, the bubble moves with it. So essentially that protection zone is always in place around the vehicle.”

The Detection Zones explained

The best part: the system can be customised to meet your exact operational requirements and safety protocols.

There are three detection zone thresholds configurable from up to 20 metres:

  • The Warning Zone
  • The Danger Zone
  • The Safe Zone

“I tend to think of the Warning Zone as the pre-alert. So, in other words, to let the machine operator know that people or other vehicles have come into the vicinity and aren’t necessarily a danger,” Mr Palmer said.

“But they need to be pre-warned so that if it does breach the next threshold, the Danger Zone, they’ve already been made aware.

“This means decision making is easier for what to do next. From the pedestrian perspective, the Warning Zone alert that they get through their Tag, warns them that they’re getting a bit close before it becomes a critical situation.”

In the event that personnel breach the Danger Zone, pedestrians and vehicle operators will receive another alert, and for heightened safety, automated Equipment Stop or Vehicle Speed Reduction can also be implemented as an extra layer of protection.

But what about the personnel driving the vehicles who are classified within the Danger Zone? That’s when the Safe Zone threshold kicks in.

“This is a really interesting concept because the operator is just as much part of this protection concept as the people around the machine,” Mr Palmer said.

“The Safe Zone is actually around the cab, so when the operator is within that zone, they’re excluded from the safety side of things, so they don’t keep triggering the system.

“But, if they were to get out of the cab for any reason, they come out of the Safe Zone, into the Danger or Warning Zone.”

The set distances for the detection zones are easily configurable through a simple user interface, which is password protected and only accessible to authorised personnel on site.

Up to 15 transmitters and 50 tags can operate within the same coverage area, and up to two transmitters can be retrofitted onto the vehicle (i.e on the front and back for maximum fields of detection).

Zones can collapse or vary in size, dependent on the vehicle/equipment speed or operation – the choice is yours.

Compatible with your existing fleet

MST Global’s Proximity Detection system is also very easy to use and install and can simply be retrofitted to your existing vehicle fleet, making it a cost-effective option with less financial outlay.

“It’s not restricted to a particular OEM, so, it’s easy to install to different pieces of equipment,” Mr Palmer said.

“Even if you do have an existing fleet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t fit this system to it. There’s always an opportunity there to improve the safety, of your equipment and your people.”


If you’d like some more information on our Proximity Detection solution, contact our team of technical consultants today or download our information packs.

August 18, 2022