Non-destructive Testing of steel ropes
HSL completed this project, to assess the ability of a range of internationally available non-destructive testing (NDT) instruments to find defects in wire ropes. It was sponsored jointly by HSE, Bridon International, UK Coal Mining and Anglo American Corporation of South Africa
As described in last year's review, six NDT companies were invited to bring their instruments (seven in total) to HSL, Sheffield, for evaluation. The evaluation was carried out using six ropes of varying construction some of which contained artificial defects; others were ex-service ropes containing real defects. In addition, the instruments were taken to a local colliery so that a winding rope, known to contain defects, could be examined. The instruments were also assessed by HSL for mechanical reliability and ease of use.
During 2002, the draft report was completed and considered by the sponsors. A final report was approved, printed and distributed, in both hard bound and CD ROM formats. Circulation was extensive, with copies going to UK, German, South African, Canadian and USA recipients. Feedback has been very good.
The report concluded that there was considerable variation in performance of the various instruments, particularly in the interpretation of loss in metallic area data. A number of recommendations were made as to the future application of the technique, in order to establish a more consistent standard of output. The attention of rope users was drawn to the limitations of the technique in its present state of development, with particular caution being urged in relation to the determination of rope discard criteria.
The use of Virtual Reality for Mine Operations and Safety
This ECSC programme was completed during the year. The University of Nottingham led and focused on developing underlying VR technology. It also involved HSL in the UK and partners from Spain, France and Germany.
HSL's contribution studied the use of Virtual Reality (VR) for the reconstruction of mine incidents and for mine planning, as an aid to mine health and safety management. Three mining incidents have been recreated using VR and the results have been evaluated at the mine where two of the incidents occurred, and have also been presented at the Mines Inspectorate annual conference.
Each of the three reconstructions emphasised different beneficial aspects of VR, and they have highlighted different issues in their development. The reconstructions illustrate a VR training tool, a tool for communicating mining issues to non-mining audiences such as a jury, and an engineer's tool for recording, examining, solving and communicating mine safety issues.
The training tool reconstruction showed that VR provides a very powerful way of communicating and discussing important issues, especially in a group setting where the experience can be shared. The ability to examine the incident from any viewpoint and replay the events forwards, backwards and paused provided strong imagery to convey the message. The realism of VR was important in achieving this.
The reconstruction, which was designed for presenting the issues surrounding a mining incident to a lay audience, suggested that VR can communicate more effectively than traditional plans. This is especially true when there is a need to understand the spatial relationship and interaction between parts of an incident scene. In this case the angle of a fault plane which crossed a roadway and caused a rock-fall and a fatal injury, was illustrated.
The reconstruction which was used to evaluate engineering safety issues suggested that there are powerful benefits to using 3-D drafting rather than 2-D. In this case it was possible to examine in 3-D, the effects of changing the driver's cab design on a free-steered vehicle to improve driver visibility.
Guidelines are being produced which, it is hoped, will help mines to evaluate the potential of using VR themselves and make informed decisions about using this technology.