When blowing in the wind improves mine safety

Monday, 13 June, 2016

When blowing in the wind improves mine safety

A wind-powered device is being developed in South Australia to help maintain safety for workers on mine sites.

The ‘Spinflector’ can clean reflectors on delineator posts at mine sites, which helps to improve visibility for machinery operators.

Trampas Cutler, Spinflector Industries’ founding director, developed the Spinflector in Port Lincoln, South Australia and has been trialling them at an iron ore mine in the state’s Iron Triangle for the past five months.

He said at most mine sites, teams of workers travelled almost weekly along major thoroughfares, manually cleaning dust and grime from the reflectors, creating safety issues, loss of productivity and additional labour costs.    

“It’s an endless job, as the reflectors get dirtied with grime over and over again,” said Cutler. “That interrupts production, because they have to put signage in place, they have to have clear radio communications with the trucks to tell them to slow down when they drive past and [there is] the massive safety issue of them being run over by a machine.”

The Spinflector is designed to fit on a 50 mm PVC delineator post and contains a series of brushes to clean dust and grime from reflectors. The device has a built-in wind vane to power the brushes.

“Even on fairly calm days, you’re always going to have the odd gust of wind, and it only really needs to rotate about half a dozen times in a 48-hour period to take the layer of dust off and be effective — it just doesn’t allow a build-up of dirt,” Cutler said.

The mechanical engineer, who has spent many years working on mining sites, said ensuring the reflectors were clean was of upmost importance at night, especially given the remote nature of most mines.

“On a mine site you’ve obviously got no streetlights so, apart from the machine’s headlights, it’s completely black, which can be quite daunting for new operators.”

Presales have already opened for the product, with the commercial launch expected by the end of the year. Cutler said the device had already generated strong interest from Australian mine operators and hopes to eventually market the product internationally.

“It’s not just mining either; it can also be used in civil construction industries as well,” he added.

While most large mine sites have about 20,000 delineator posts, a Spinflector would not necessarily have to be fitted to each one.

“The delineators are anywhere between 25 and 50 m apart, so on busy intersections it would be good to have it on every post, but on a long-haul road, you could probably get away with having it on every third or fifth post.” 

Image courtesy of Spinflector Industries

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