June 28, 2018

Smartphones to be used underground

AO Vorkutaugol, one of the largest coal mining companies in Russia and part of PAO Severstal, has purchased special spark-proof smartphones to perform mining equipment diagnostics and workplace safety audits.

Prior to entering the mine, the wireman opens the Mobile Equipment Maintenance and Repair (EMR) application on the smartphone, logs into the system and enters the workplace. Once underground, the phone transmits to special readers installed in the mines near mechanisms and aggregates. When brought near the readers, instructions for the wireman appear on the smartphone screen. The beginning and end of each stage of work is recorded by the wiremen on their [phones].

If any malfunction is detected the application allows users to select the relevant aggregate or unit from the list, describe the malfunction and even attach photos. The smartphone is connected to the underground Wi-Fi, enabling a message to be sent to the division mechanic’s computer while the electronic malfunction database analyzes the data. Strata, a multifunctional safety system that functions in test mode, provides wireless communication in the mines.

Vladimir Demidov, Manager for the Development of the Maintenance Planning System, explained:

“The Mobile EMR will improve the discipline and quality of work and will also enable any malfunctions to be identified in the app [while personnel are] on-site. The more efficient we are in detecting malfunctions, the faster the mechanics can eliminate them. This will reduce breakdown risks and downtime and minimize the rate of equipment breakdown.”

The first 12 spark-proof smartphones are currently being tested at the Zapolyarnaya Mine. In addition to the equipment diagnostics app, the phones have a Mobile PAB program installed to carry out behavioral safety audits underground. Once the trial period is completed, similar smartphones will start being used in other Vorkutaugol mines.