International Mining Operation Improves Safety & Conformance
- A Savance EIOBoard Client Case Study
"When you have an environment like a mine where safety is of high concern since lives are on the line, it's hard to put a value on safeguards to ensure each person's safety."
Safety & Training Coordinator
Westmoreland Mining (formerly part of Sherritt International) is a North American leader in the coal mining industry with mines in the United States and Canada. Westmoreland's Prairie Mines operation includes six open mines in Alberta that supply thermal coal to electricity generation companies. Production from 2012 totaled 31.2 million tonnes. Prairie Mines staff consists of 40 office workers and 70-80 contractors.
Martin Rowland, Safety and Training Coordinator for Westmoreland's Prairie Mines operations, needed to know how many contractors, visitors, and employees entered the business with exact accuracy. Because Prairie Mines is an open-pit mine operation, government regulations require that Westmoreland keep detailed records of everyone in the building for safety compliance. Precise records are vital for emergency roll call during an evacuation.
In 2012, paper sign-in sheets were still used to keep a record of each person's whereabouts in the building. The process was laborious and inaccurate. Having to physically sign in sign out came to be a major challenge, as people were moving from area to area during the day. Some people, such as delivery drivers, never signed in, creating additional liability.
Payroll was also a problem. While employees use punch cards, supervisors wanted a way to track accumulated overtime during a pay period instead of having to wait until the punch cards were processed at the end of a pay period.
Rowland wanted to find a system that would account for every person in the building with 100 percent accuracy. He needed it to both comply with government performance standards and to ensure everyone could be accounted in case of emergency. He did an online search and found a few options, including Savance's EIOBoard electronic in/out board solutions. The reason he chose Savance was because the EIOBoard solutions did exactly what he needed and more. Rowland believed he could expand Sherritt's use of EIOBoard's features as managers and employees discovered its functionality. He downloaded the free online demo onto his home computer.
Westmoreland initiated an email discussion with Savance about the organization's unique situation, specifically at two mines in Alberta: Paintearth and Sheerness.
The Complete Solution
Savance recommended that Westmoreland install Observint Technologies Infinias eIDC Controllers with existing card readers and matching "out" card readers, along with Savance's Staff Tracking, Visitor Management, and Emergency Mustering solutions. At the Sheerness mine, three Infinias controllers were used to handle three areas of access. This location also had one 15" interactive touch screen kiosk to serve the dual purposes as a vendor/guest check-in station and a staff check-in and check-out point. At the kiosk, staff could leave more details, such as where they were going (lunch for example) and how long they were going to be gone. The staff check-in kiosk also tied in with Savance's Time & Attendance solution to eliminate Westmoreland's payroll nightmare.
One Emergency Mustering tablet was also implemented at this location, which continuously syncs with the system, ready to do roll call even if connectivity to the system is down.
A similar configuration was set up at the Paintearth mine. Here, they only had one primary access point so only one Infinias eIDC controller was needed. Two 15" touch screens were implemented with USB card readers to again facilitate vendors and guests, as well as for staff. This site also implemented an Emergency Mustering offline tablet for roll-call in an emergency situation.
Emergency Preparedness - A Top Priority
The top priority for Westmoreland was the fact that they needed to mitigate the inherent risk of a mining operation. Even with the high safety standards at Westmoreland, there needed to be a way to account for every person on the property. This included office workers, contractors, vendors and other guests. "Some people, like delivery drivers, weren't always accounted for," says Rowland.
EIOBoard Emergency Mustering is hosted on a tablet that syncs with the EIOBoard system at customizable intervals. When the device is disconnected, the tablet goes into offline mode and ceases to synchronize until it is reconnected. When a fire drill or other emergency evacuation occurs, the safety officer uses the tablet for roll call. The tablet software stores existing user data until it is reconnected to the server. The Emergency Mustering tablet is also good for locating a person that may be trapped in an area, as it will help you pinpoint a person's last known location.
Westmoreland Solution Configuration (click to enlarge):
Implementing the EIOBoard system at the Sheerness and Paintearth mines was mostly straightforward and without incident. "There were a few networking issues," Rowland said, "but with Savance's help it's up and running now." Westmoreland also discovered that same setup was not appropriate for both mines. "We needed a different package at each location, and now both are working beautifully."
The most obvious result that Westmoreland is experiencing is a semi-automated accountability system with an up-to-date staff and vendor list available from anywhere on the network or from a tablet device even when the network is unavailable. "When you have an environment like a mine where safety is of high concern since lives are on the line, it's hard to put a value on safeguards to ensure each person's safety." In addition to added accountability to enhance safety, the system also adds many more benefits for the mines. Westmoreland now has an electronic log of every visitor who enters and exits the building. In addition, Westmoreland leverages the system to drive payroll for hourly employees and performance reviews to uphold expected attendance standards and control overtime. In addition, staff can utilize the system to communicate more effectively. They can start up a chat about a project, find out who is covering a shift, review who is on vacation, and much more.
Overall, Westmoreland is pleased with the results of the EIOBoard solution. Employees and vendors appreciate the simple process of signing in and out. Management is especially pleased with benefits they didn't anticipate. For example, it was discovered that contractors had been entering their in/out times inaccurately using the paper logbook. While the accumulated times may not have added up to much, the true benefit of 100 percent accuracy is the reduced liability. "We need to know when they're here, and when they're gone, "says Rowland. If someone is logged in but not actually on the property, it could be a disaster in an emergency situation.
In addition, Rowland estimates a 30-40 percent increase in time saved developing compliance reports, validating contractor hours, and tracking overtime. Rowland is also looking forward to learning how the system will continue to enhance his business. "We're not using it to its full potential," he explains. "I try a new report every month.", and "I think it's really hit the nail on the head. It has accomplished everything we'd hoped for."