Material Transport Systems
IMC-TS continued work on this ECSC supported project on development of a computer-based transport modelling system. The objective of the modelling system is to provide a means by which mines will be able to model their planned, or existing, transport arrangements. Users will then be able to use the resultant models to predict and/or evaluate the risk factors associated with the transport system. In order to facilitate widespread use throughout the industry, special emphasis is being placed in making the model user-friendly and ensuring that it will run as a standalone application on PCs using a Microsoft Windows based operating system.
Trials have been conducted by modelling selected sections of a mine's underground rail transport system, running a simulation of typical operational tasks, and then comparing the simulation results with those obtained via observation of the actual transport tasks. The trials showed the coding and methods used to represent the transport system objects to be satisfactory. However, the simulation elements of the model were, at the time, based on "hard-coded" logic. Hence, as the complexity of the transport tasks simulated increased, so did the potential for differences to occur between the simulated and observed results.
These problems are currently being addressed during the on-going process of validation and testing of the computer model. It is planned to conduct user trials in mid 2002, to enable an assessment of software practicality and usability to be made.
The use of Virtual Reality for Mine Operations and Safety
The University of Nottingham leads this ECSC programme, also involving IMC-TS and HSL in the UK and partners from Spain, France and Germany, to study the use of Virtual Reality (VR). The University has focused on developing underlying VR technology.
IMC-TS has concentrated on potential application areas, developing two virtual reality models and scenarios and validating a third. These three models are:
HSL has now developed a system for fast turn-around of Virtual Reality reconstructions in mining. Its features include:
Following a recent mine incident, the Mines Inspectorate requested a VR reconstruction of the incident site, and this is being carried out as a matter of urgency as part of this project. The VR model will be distributed as a non-linear ‘real-time’ interactive model on CD-ROM rather than a linear movie. This will allow viewers to freely navigate the scene and will include a system for highlighting and labelling critical details in the scene. It is anticipated that the model will be useful to the Coroner and to the mine for training purposes. The incident reconstruction has changed the priorities in the project. Consequently, the intended design of a safety inspection training system for mine officials will now be limited to a set of guidelines on how this would be done. Two other incident reconstructions have been completed.