New technology keeps eye on driver fatigue

An agreement struck recently between Cashman Equipment Company and Seeing Machines could change driving habits for haul truck operators at many northern Nevada mine sites.

Cashman’s agreement to sell Seeing Machine’s driver fatigue monitoring system is the first step in implementing the system throughout all trucks sold through the Las Vegas-based heavy equipment dealer, a primary provider of large haul trucks to northern Nevada mine sites.

The Seeing Machines driver safety system uses a console-mounted camera to monitor driver fatigue and distraction by tracking the driver’s eye and head movements. Currently, Seeing Machines is offered as an aftermarket accessory to equipment sold by Cashman but will become standard in all vehicle sales within a few years, says David R. Griffin, Cashman’s general manager for equipment solutions.

Seeing Machines, headquartered at Canberry, Australia, entered the mining market in 2008 and has since sold more than 4,500 units to mining companies across the globe, says Russ Armbrust, vice president for business development. The company conducted a pilot program with Newmont Mining Corp. in 2010 and placed its fatigue-monitoring system in 16 haul trucks at Newmont’s Phoenix Mine 16 miles south of Battle Mountain.

Armbrust says driver fatigue and distraction continue to be major safety concerns for hard-rock mining companies.

“If you look at some of the bigger mining conferences out there, a lot of the round table conferences taking place, where you get a lot of these companies coming together to talk about their biggest pain points, we are seeing fatigue and distraction in the mining industry at the top of the list,” Armbrust says. “And we are seeing that with our constant requests for information.”

Armbrust says Seeing Machine’s explosive growth in the past few years dictated its agreement with Cashman so it could better access the dealer’s extensive network of contacts within the mining industry.

“They have relationships with all the mines sites in their territories, and that is something we did not have,” Armbrust says. “Working with dealers can catapult our technology into this industry.”

Cashman’s Griffin says the dealership spends a great deal of time working with its customers in northern Nevada and elsewhere to help them better use their heavy equipment. Seeing Machines devices are but one additional part of Cashman’s overall condition monitoring services, which monitor the health of machines working in the field.

Seeing Machines claims an 80-percent reduction in driver fatigue and distraction events with its devices in place. Although there often is initial pushback by haul truck drivers, Armbrust says operators tend to change their thinking when shown video evidence of distraction and fatigue events.

“When you have verifiable events you can show operators, it turns into a huge training tool,” he says.


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