Abseiling, drones and 3D modelling — modern practices transforming the resources industries
Structural audits are an important part of maintaining the safety of mines and process plants, as well as their uptime. Yenem Engineering Services of Western Australia has made the integration of modern technology into their services a priority in order to help prevent injury and minimise shutdown time and financial losses for companies it works with.
“The resources industry experiences safety issues, at times brought on by a lack of preventative maintenance and regular structural audits,” Yenem Engineering Services Director Dave Meney said. “The importance of structural audits should not be understated, in fact they can save both the lives of workers and millions of dollars in downtime and repairs.
“For example, a failed gantry bridge at a mine in WA was to blame for the death of a boilermaker just last year. A report into the incident found the gantry bridge had deteriorated due to corrosion and could no longer support itself.”
Many structural audits are limited by a company’s ability to get physically close to a structure, but Yenem is using innovation to get around the issue.
“In the NSW mining town of Cobar, we recently used abseiling as a way of accessing otherwise inaccessible areas.”
Yenem is also adding drones to its inspection artillery to get at otherwise inaccessible places.
“The drones we use can handle 70 km/h winds, and can get to all of the places a human can’t safely,” said Meney. “We also wrote an iPad app, so now we go on-site and take photos and put them in our report in PDF form. We write the report there and then,” he explained.
“A client can have a report within days complete with a risk matrix and practical recommendations. Our clients can save on shutdown time if solutions are delivered quickly.”
The company is also working towards a fully interactive report that clients can immerse themselves in.
“You’ll be able to view a 3D model on a web browser and as you move around the model, you can see high-res photographs, even a report page with a recommendation and a risk rating. So, it becomes an interactive report, that people would enjoy using,” he said. “You can then really involve and engage the people in the conference room — they can actually see the problem, rather than be looking through a 100-page report. We can be there with them, using videoconferencing software like Zoom, answering any queries they have.”
It’s part of a wider plan that Meney hopes to introduce to the mining sector, where Yenem provides a full 3D database of a site’s structures and loads for ongoing management of the structures during their design life.
“The client will essentially have a ‘digital twin’ of each structure, with which we can quickly assess the safety of a structure that has deteriorated, or been modified, or damaged.
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