Gauging extreme temperature and pressure of mining vehicles, this device alerts mine workers, helps avert disaster
In January this year, 15 miners were trapped in a rathole mine in Meghalaya. According to a report in The Hindu, 377 workers involved in mining of coal, minerals and oil were killed in accidents between 2015 and 2017. The mining industry sees a huge loss of lives due to its hazardous environment, and miscommunication between heavy earth moving machines (HEMM) and supervisors due to a lack of network at deeper depths.
Team Magnificent Dreamers from PSNA College of Engineering and Technology, Dindigul developed a product to monitor such machines, and showcased it at the Smart India Hackathon 2019 - Hardware edition, held at IIT Kharagpur, one of SIH’s 19 nodal centres across India. They won a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh for their innovation.
A small box with huge potential
Their product is a small box that monitors, measures and displays values like temperature and pressure of heavy earth moving machines. In critical or extreme conditions, the alarm is triggered and an alert message is sent to a supervisor in the control room. The device also shows the location of the vehicle.
“For the product to work, a pressure sensor had to be fixed in the vehicle’s engine, and a temperature sensor was fixed to the engine’s radiator,” explains team leader Charles. Y.
Developing the product
Apart from Charles, Team Magnificent Dreamers had engineering students Alagu Sundar R (20), Abbas Haris MI (20), Aravindakksan VV (20), Akashbabu GJ (19) and Sudharsana S (20) work together to develop the device.
“We had developed an industrial robot as a part of our college project. That is when we got the idea to test it on a larger working area like a mine,” says Charles.
The team has used technologies like the Arduino USB Board (a microcontroller), ThingSpeak (a cloud), loRa modulation technique for interoperability within existing networks, and a GPS to complete the product.
Working on a device like this was not easy. The members struggled to find and develop a network suitable for communication. As heavy earth moving machines are huge and inflexible, the team found it hard to fix their device in the desired area, initially.
How does the device work?
The practical application of the device includes monitoring, tracking, for data transfer in coal mines, data analytics and alerting heavy earth moving machines.
“Our product’s USP is that it is easy to plug in and out, cost-efficient and helps communication in mining,” says Charles.
They plan to launch the product in the market after some modifications. They want to add additional features – like being able to reduce the temperature and the pressure if it exceeds the threshold.
To instill and foster innovation among students, the Central government started the Smart India Hackathon (SIH) in 2017, and recently concluded the third edition successfully.
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(Edited by Suruchi Kapur-Gomes)