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The pressure on South African underground coal mines to adopt some form of Proximity Detection System (PDS) has increased significantly. But uptake has been slow, mainly because danger zones can only be set to a maximum field size of 15 metres which simply doesn’t detect objects fast enough, especially when they are travelling at 16km/hour or more. This ‘system lag’ problem is compounded when machine operators adopt a sense of complacency – a feeling that they no longer need to be aware of moving machinery because the PDS automatically slows down the machine. To top it off, getting a system requires a hefty outlay of US$314,000 (continuous miner system).

A specialist engineering house located in Australia, Nautitech Mining Systems, has released a convincing solution that might just save Proximity Detection as we know it. Nautitech’s flameproof Thermal Detection System is MASC certified and allows mobile machine operators to actually see people, cables and equipment by detecting their heat signature. Notably, the cameras give machine operators a much longer range of vision (50m+) and also provide a visual confirmation of what is around the machine (instead of relying on tags to be detected). Even in darkness, confined spaces, dust and water spray mist – all the classic conditions present in underground coal mines. And the cost is far more digestible – around US$20,000 for a 2-camera/2-display thermal detection system.

The systems are available now and are:

• Ex d certified (MASC, IECEx, ATEX,)
• IP enabled (stream thermal video live to the surface via a Nautitech power-line modem)
• Already in place at more than ten underground coal sites in Australia

Get started
Please talk to our Johannesburg based representative Christo on +27 78 800 2589 or

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