Acu-Vib Electronics: Precision and Intelligence for Mining Operations
Hearing loss is one of the most common occupational health and safety challenges confronting mines across Australia. Whether it’s blasting or crushing practices, the use of earthmoving machinery, or mineral processing applications, mine operators are subject to unavoidable noise generation.
This excessive noise can result in workers’ compensation claims as a result of deafness and the impact on quality of life. Settling these claims presents an expensive proposition for mining companies. Reducing the prevalence of this problem reduces the healthcare cost burden placed on companies, which means they can allocate more of their capital to resource extraction and less on compensation.
However, detecting hearing loss is difficult as it builds up gradually over time as workers are exposed to noise. In order to better understand the day-to-day noise hazards workers are exposed to, sophisticated monitoring of noise exposure is critical.
Companies are regulated by law to implement noise monitoring systems into their operations. Now, Svantek’s portable and wearable noise and vibration monitoring devices present operators with the most comprehensive and sophisticated system on the market.
Distributed by specialist calibration and acoustic instruments supplier Acu-Vib Electronics, Svantek’s noise monitoring products solve a range of problems facing mine operators.
Health & Safety – Noise & Vibrations
For the personal worker, Acu-Vib offers the SV104BiS noise dosimeter. The device is small, lightweight, compact and cable-free, which means it easily attaches to the worker’s shoulder without inhibiting their work or movement.
This dosimeter records audio events through an attached microphone (with lifetime warranty) and offers real-time analysis. It transmits to an OLED display screen, which is visible in full daylight or darkness. Unlike traditional dosimeters, regardless of working conditions, the worker can quickly check on potentially hazardous noise exposure on a clear and brightly-lit display screen.
The SV104BiS is intrinsically safe in accordance with ATEX, IECEx and Anzex regulations, ideal for underground mining conditions where exposed batteries are prohibited. The device features a robust half-inch shock-resistant MEMS microphone, with a large dynamic range of 90 db. This allows it to measure noise from 60 dbA to 140 dBA. Health and safety regulations stipulate that average noise exposure above 85 dBA over an eight-hour working day is considered hazardous, and this dosimeter is perfectly designed to track these levels.
Aside from the innovative design of these wearable devices, the software underpinning its functionality is equally impressive. The SV104BiS links to an analysis system called Svan-supervisor.
Acu-Vib sales manager, Julian Kielt, highlighted the remarkable capabilities of this system.
“It’s software that’s dedicated to occupational instrumentation and report generation,” he said.
“It comes free of charge. Although some companies charge for the software, we offer clients the ability to download if automatically for free with purchase. You can save the files and set-up file, then simply just reload that setup file. Then you go on to the website platform, connect the device ready for the worker to perform their job, then download the report at the end of the day.”
An impressive feature of Svan-supervisor is the precision of its data generation, and the predictive capabilities built into the system. Worker safety can be tracked and analysed to exact time and location.
“You can use the system to map out the worker’s day, and track at each point their exposure to a potential noise or vibration hazard,” Kielt said.
“The exposure is recorded through the device and transmitted and analysed by Svan-supervisor. You’re essentially predicting how workers should operate, because the exposure might hit a certain level after three hours of work or so, the exposure might become too much, and then you can organise workflow to keep exposure within safe limits. All of this can be pre-defined with the software, if someone needs to change a job, or move to a different section, after three of four hours, because of exposure. And then you can divide up an eight-hour or 10-hour day, to reduce noise exposure, and mitigate how much noise a worker is exposed to. It’s a sophisticated reporting software program with predictive capabilities.”
Svan-supervisor can also analyse noise exposure captured over a period of an hour, and then stretch it out to calculate noise exposure over an eight-hour period. In this way, from a single hour of work, the worker and the company can properly and accurately determine potential noise exposure across a full working day, and then act accordingly to mitigate any potential safety failure.
Svan-supervisor fulfills complex tasks, but the setup and running of it is relatively simple. The software program is also tied to Svantek’s range of vibration monitoring devices. Like noise hazards, worker exposure to excessive and repeated vibration can have deleterious effects on health. Hand-arm vibrations resulting from jackhammers and drills, for example, can lead to pathological changes in the nervous system of the hands and fingers, commonly called white finger disease.
With no cure for damage to the nervous system caused by vibration, protecting the safety of workers comes down to one option – a preventative monitoring system.
The SV103 hand-arm vibration dosimeter and analyser fulfills this function. The dosimeter attaches to a strap that wraps around the arm, linked in turn to the hand in which the vibration occurs. Like Svantek’s noise vibration monitors, the SV103 is compact enough to take vibration measurements without interfering with normal working activities.
It’s integration with Svan-Supervisor supports data download, instrument configuration and provides a complete set of tools for the determination of occupational vibration exposure from measurements in accordance to ISO 5349-2 standards. Measurement results are expressed in m/s (squared) and can be directly compared to limits given by the European Directive 2002/44/EC. It’s also possible to convert units into Points widely used in the health and safety sector.
For whole-body vibration monitoring, Svantek has designed the popular SV100A. This device is particularly suitable for truck and heavy machinery operators and is already widely used throughout the Australian mining industry. The instrument is fitted to the seat upon which the operator sits. The device is equipped with both RMS and RMQ detectors which allow the calculation of daily vibration exposure A(8) based on RMS and VDV simultaneously. All measurement results are stored in a large 8GB internal memory, which permits continuous recording over long periods.
The Bluetooth interface enables current results to be previewed on a smartphone or tablet using the SvanMobile Android application. And like the noise monitoring devices, the mapping and predictive capabilities of Svan-supervisor makes this product particularly attractive.
“Imagine a miner is driving over a certain stretch of road. The SV100A tracks the vibration. It can then say, well, this miner shouldn’t travel on this road for longer than four hours, because the vibration exposure will exceed set parameters. So he should then hand over to someone else. A mine site can do its research, its measurements, and then figure out what these drivers are encountering at work,” Kielt said.
“You can map out the vibration that a worker is exposed to throughout the day, and with those data insights, you can create a sort of work log, saying workers can only work four hours at a time in this area of the site before they have to hand it over.”
This degree of precision is why Svantek’s noise and vibration monitoring systems are so remarkable. The marriage of tough and compact hardware with intelligent software means that when a company purchases these products, it isn’t purchasing a simplistic monitoring system, but one that actively helps them plan and map out a comprehensive and effective safety regime, all built upon precise data and real-time information flow.
Environmental – Noise & Vibrations
In addition to worker safety, Svantek has developed products to ensure that mines can operate under strict noise and vibration control guidelines designed to protect the surrounding environment and community relations. The blasting of rock and ore generates noise and vibration, and if these exceed certain limits, and if a mine site is situated too close to a nearby residential zone, the quality of life of residents can be negatively impacted.
Svantek’s portable SV200A noise monitoring terminal and its SV258 Pro indoor/outdoor sound and vibration monitoring system help companies comply with environmental regulations in a precise manner. The SV258 Pro is designed for simultaneous noise monitoring and ground and structure vibration logging. It sits on the ground in a lockable case, nearby a structure of interest, to record.
In the general cacophony of a mining operation, it is often difficult to isolate which particular sources of noise are breaching standards. To solve this vexing problem, the revolutionary SV200A, a top-tier noise monitoring station on its own, features built-in noise directivity technology. It can isolate and locate any source of noise, both vertically and horizontally, from an area of measurement, exclude other sources of noise, and then map out and report the targeted noise source using Google Maps.
The SV200A is linked into SvanPC+ software. With regards to reporting capabilities, when a monitoring station records a breach in noise levels, an alarm is triggered, with SMS and emails sent directly to workers in the field. Additionally, due to the noise directivity feature, operators know exactly which source of noise has breached a set threshold.
Whether it’s the precision of noise directivity or real-time analysis of vibration effects on workers, for companies who want precision and intelligence in their operations, Acu-Vib’s Svantek products are the way to go. All units are calibrated in accordance to NATA specifications in the Acu-Vib Electronics accredited Sydney Laboratory in Acoustics & Vibrations.