Invariably, every profession has its occupational hazards. For mining professionals, mainly, the risks are little too varied and often quite severe. While mining today is substantially safer than before, mines are still some of the world’s most dangerous, harshest, and hazardous working environments. It is, therefore, incumbent on mining companies to ensure adequate safety and protection for the miners and strive toward the goal of zero harm. Today, this task has become a lot easier, thanks to the advent of innovative technologies. The digital transformation of mines is paving the way for a safer mining environment. And the intuitive end-user interface is simplifying all aspects of the system, setup, and testing. Take the use of atmospheric monitoring in mines, for example. Such a technology-driven approach can help mining companies in the early detection of toxic gases, particularly carbon monoxide (CO), methane, and so on. And the entity at the forefront of this transformation is CONSPEC Controls. A leader in the field of gas detection, CONSPEC Controls has been serving the mining industry with MSHA products since 1968. “Our primary focus is to provide top-notch safety and atmospheric monitoring system to ensure the environmental safety of mining personnel and eliminate operational downtime,” states Rick Calamera, the mining specialist at CONSPEC.
Notably, CONSPEC has been designing, developing, and manufacturing gas detection instruments and control systems since its inception for several sectors, such as O&G, power generation, wastewater, commercial, and HVAC solution. CONSPEC’s gas monitoring systems are perfectly suited for use in hazardous areas of underground coal mines. These user-friendly systems are engineered to continuously coexist with new and existing control equipment to monitor different toxic and combustible gases continuously. “We combine state-of-the-art manufacturing with cutting-edge research to create intrinsically safe and specialized instrumentation and equipment that meets individual customer applications and requirements,” adds Robert Collins, the vice president and general manager of CONSPEC’s North American unit.
The company has recently released a groundbreaking Atmospheric Monitoring System (AMS) and a new line of monitors under the OPTIO brand name, which is deemed a game-changer for the mining companies. It can support the detection of not just one but also multiple gases such as CO, CH4, NO2, H2S, O2, and more. Unlike traditional systems, the OPTIO airflow, fan controller, I/O monitor, H2 comp, and diesel monitors consume a fraction of the power, eliminating additional added equipment.
Additionally, this new product can also be used to manage operational processes, such as exhaust and ventilation systems, as well as MSHA approved air velocity monitoring, all within one monitor. Utilizing Allen Bradley PLC, the AMS can offer end-user the ability to monitor and control these processes for underground mining operations. And the open architecture of the system allows easy integration with clients’ existing gas detection systems.
What’s more? Tim Beers, the technical applications manager of CONSPEC, says, “The AMS can also be part of an Ethernet-based network, utilizing fiber optic cable as the communications backbone throughout the mine.” OPTIO can provide wireless technology in sections such as the gates or where the scoops operate, from a wired backbone.
Supplementing such a product line, CONSPEC goes another step further with its customer centricity and robust support systems. “We take a customized design approach in developing our solutions that meet client’s exact need,” underlines Cope. Corroborating his statement, a case in point would be CONSPEC’s recent engagement with a mining company. Adhering to the MSHA guidelines, the client needed to develop an extractor gas sampling system in their mines. It was a new sort of approach to getting rid of the combustible gases of the mines. As the client was pulling a large volume of gases up to the surface from their gob area (part of the mine from which the coal has been removed and filled up with waste), they wanted to monitor the gases inside the sample stream to make sure that it wasn’t explosive or toxic. “And we were hand in hand with them to develop several highly customized products for their specific application,” recalls Beers. He further adds, “We went out to the mine to ensure the devices were installed correctly set up and provided the training and support for that product after it was installed.” The final monitoring system was also able to discriminate between diesel machines and unintended sources of toxic gases, thereby mitigating the instances of false alarms.
Such proven capabilities of CONSPEC have come handy time and again in making the world of mining safer than before. And it has also helped the company find its niche in the mining industry. Moving forward, CONSPEC is now poised to enhance its capabilities further. At the same time, as Calamera notes, CONSPEC is planning to expand further into the domain of underground hard rock mining, i.e., extraction of hard minerals such as gold, silver, iron, and more. “Right now, we are laser-focused on taking our offering to other related domains and ensure all-round human safety, even in the depths of mines,” enthuses Calamera. “With the technology from Conspec and the OPTIO line, Conspec will help lead their customers into a safer, more productive solution for the better of the industry.