CRCMining and SmartCap

The Cooperative Research Centre for Mining (CRCMining) has developed a baseball cap head ware technology to measure and manage drowsiness in real time, in order to overcome a significant driver fatigue problem in the coal mining industry.

Known as the SmartCap Operator Fatigue Management System, the baseball cap technology solves a problem identified in the mining industry and is expected to be of much wider benefit to other workplaces where fatigue is a major concern.

Supported by CRCMining member Anglo American Metallurgical Coal (AAMC), the SmartCap has evolved from a field-proven prototype in 2008 to commercial trials in 2010. AngloAmerican is currently deploying the driver headware to its heavy vehicle drivers and heavy machine operators at its coal mine sites across Australia, and CEO Cynthia Carroll has confirmed deployment to mines in other countries will follow during 2011.

Each baseball cap contains electroencephalogram (EEG) brain monitoring sensors concealed in the cap lining and uses an operator’s brain wave information to calculate a measure of drowsiness. This calculation is wirelessly communicated to a display in-cab, or to any Bluetooth enabled device to alert the driver or operator of fatigue.

Such fatigue is most pervasive in long-haul transport and heavy industries such as construction and mining, where it is responsible for hundreds of fatalities and injuries each year as well as millions of dollars in lost productivity. In the absence of appropriate fatigue management strategies and technologies, this problem is exacerbated by the combination of an aging workforce and increasing demands on operators to achieve production quota.

‘Mining companies are committed to safety, and this commitment has translated into a successful collaboration that will benefit the global mining industry, and the wider community,’ project manager Dr Daniel Bongers said. ‘This project has been good for industry, and good for Australia. The coming year is full of promise and excitement for the project team, for CRCMining and for the mining industry,’ he said.

With the look and feel of a typical baseball cap, the SmartCap has overcome operator acceptance problems experienced at mining sites where camera or response based technologies have been implemented in the past.

 

CRCMining, SmartCap, Shelston IP