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SAFETY - Is it really our TOP Priority ?

SAFETY - Is it really our TOP Priority

If not, let's do it


It was yet another shocking and distressing incident happened that caused a number of fatal casualties and countless injured persons. Referring to the recent accident occurred due to landslide in a Coal mine in Odisha, India on 23rd July 2019. Many mining personnel's and equipment's buried under the thousands of metric tonnes of rock. And this is not for the first time, a number of such incidents/accidents were witnessed by the industry in the past all over the world and still we are not able to provide a safe working environment for the community.

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Although there are no accurate figures, but estimates and statistics suggest that almost 12,000 to 15,000 people loses their life in a year in such accidents worldwide.

While industry experts say the number of fatalities has decreased considerably since the early 20th Century, there has been no shortage of tragic mining accidents in recent years. ( ref: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-11533349 )

The news flashes for a couple of hours on news channels, papers, followed by rescue operations, few suspensions and putting some inquiry commission for further investigation. But do we really need another investigation? Or some strong steps to follow the safety norms and recommendations which may have been provided during prior such investigations.

On one side we are making proud moments for ourselves and country by establishing milestone in the technological advancement in all the sectors including space technologies, which is also being recognized throughout the world, but at the same time on another side, we are not even able to leverage the existing technologies to provide a better and safe working environment for workers and the society. That too for the industry like mining, which is the back bone for the growth and up-liftment of all other industries as well as for human beings.

Being a mining professional and serving the industry for almost last 13 years across various countries, and more specifically working on technology side since last more than one year with Infosys, I couldn't stop myself to bring and highlight this point again that we have to take some strong decisions and necessary steps to eliminate such un-wanted incidents, and it is possible by adopting proper technologies which can ensure the safety measures, which is doable and need not require any rocket science to implement.

"We have to inherent the safe working practice among ourselves as a practice & culture and not by force for doing so just for the sake of records".

Considering the volume of material handled by mining projects and cost associated with it, loss of a single shift without operation/production is significant in nature. The occurrence of such accidents plays significant role in loss of production and revenue. If we take the example of the above incident, where we lost the life of few workers, injured many others which off-course can't be measured and re-covered against any cost, but as a fact the project was shut down for a couple of days after the accident, and it cost millions of dollars. Both such losses could be saved by just adopting some technologies to ensure safety measures. And the cost associated with this may be a very negligible fraction comparing the overall loss. And this is applicable to more or less in all such incidents.

How Technology Can Help?

The technologies which are readily available for us can play very crucial role for improvising the safety standards in such working conditions like mining and construction sites, plant operations etc.

In most of such cases, incidents can be avoided if the key parameters associated with operational processes and/or working plans/designs are being monitored properly. Capturing the data in real time or near real time, analyzing the current and historical data for any specific trends, etc. can  help in predicting any  failure or unsafe working conditions well in advance. The technologies like AR/VR, AI, ML, Automation, Image processing, etc. can  help in providing early predictions of such unsafe conditions which can save not only the money, but more importantly the lives of individuals. It is very unfortunate and hard to believe fact, that people are using technologies for fun and entertainment like in gaming, film industries, and other such sectors, which not bad at all, but at the same time unable to leverage the benefits of such technologies for essential areas where there is a risk to life.

While working with Infosys, we got the opportunity to work closely with various technologies and the good work the team has done across all the industry segments like Medical, Automobile, Agriculture, Aerospace & Defense, Industrial manufacturing, utilities, etc. Developing platform and solutions for Digital Twin, Smart Factory, Autonomous vehicle, Development of next generation self-learning AI platform like KRTI 4.0 for operational excellence, various projects on Environmental Monitoring for a number of processing plants, Autonomous haulage, Next generation Autonomous Drilling, Collision Avoidance system, Proximity Detection, Drone based real time monitoring and many such projects for world's leading companies are just a few examples from the vast projects list. 

This gives an opportunity to use the existing matured technologies from one industry segment and leveraging it for the industries like mining, construction, etc. which are still struggling to get the benefits out of it. Using the same thought process, it was observed that Drone based real time or near real time monitoring can play a crucial role in capturing the required data and predicting the failure and unsafe conditions well in advance and we can avoid such accidents as mentioned earlier. The good part is Infosys is already using this technology in other segments. For example, in the Agriculture industry Infosys developed a solution for monitoring the Crop health using Drone, soil sensors & IoT devices, and not only specific clients but the whole industry started getting benefits out of it. The same concept can be applied for monitoring such mine sites where it is very difficult to get the required data using manual method which is more time consuming, unsafe and sometime the area of interest are not even reachable. The Drone can be used for capturing the required data efficiently and quickly. Which can be transferred to concern department in real time for further processing and monitoring.

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The image captured by Drone, along with other data generated by sensors and devices like displacement, stress, pressure, etc. can be used all together for measuring and monitoring any displacement of rock or structure, development of cracks, fractures, and any unstable features like wedges, cohesion, pore pressure, toppling, etc. and predicting unsafe working conditions well in advance so that necessary measures can be taken, which greatly enhances safety and peace of mind on-site.

This is one of such example where we may need not to re-invent the wheel to solve the problem, but to use the existing technologies and learning from the good work done in the past despite of any industry segment, and leveraging the same to solve the issues. Infosys, which focuses on these aspects and committed to its clients for providing the best of the breed technology solutions to make a safer, healthier and efficient working environment. Structuring ENCAS (Engineering Consulting and Architecture Services) group at Infosys, and enabling a fortnightly connect with industry and domain specific SME's is such a great step taken by ENCAS leadership and senior management. Where all such critical resources and like-minded people come together and shares their good experience and work done in their respective domain. This enables and provides a mechanism for a smooth transition of technological use cases from one industry to another.

 

The same idea and concept can be further explored to have a consortium of various industries like railway, road, construction, mining, oil and gas, etc.on a regional or national level where people can discuss and share their industry or work specific issues, their possible solution and how the best practices, technological solution, etc. can be adopted from one industry segment to another for the overall benefit of the industry, society and ultimately the peoples working there.

 

By providing a safe and healthy working environment, we are not only avoiding such accidents, but also increasing the efficiency of individuals and the overall process. As quoted earlier, safety should be in our practice and culture and not to be adopted by force.

The life of each individual is a gift & valuable, let's allow technology to make it more safe and beautiful.

"Tomorrow: your reward for working safely today."- Robert Pelton

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