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Wheel loaders in the quarry yard loading on-highway trucks are moving fast, around high stockpiles that block visibility and with their customers entering and exiting the quarry yard at various times and locations, says Jason Hurdis, a global market professional at Caterpillar. Excavators, as a best practice, sit on a bench higher than the truck they are loading. Bench failures or bench edge breakaways can occur. Environmental conditions such as snow, rain, fog and light can impact incident occurrence, as well.
It comes down to operator and jobsite worker awareness of the machines movements while working, says Chad Parker, senior product specialist and product trainer at Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas. However, it also depends on everyone being aware of the safety features being applied while the machine is sitting idle. Boom safety locks, [the] parking brake and hydraulic switches need to be engaged while the machine is sitting.
While seat belts represent a longstanding solution, equipment manufacturers continue to introduce safety provisions to enhance seat belt use. Among these provisions are visibility indicators and built-in monitoring systems.
When the seat belt is in use, a green indicator beacon on the cab illuminates, if equipped, says Grant Van Tine, solutions marketing manager at John Deere. If the seat belt is not latched within 30 seconds of releasing the park brake, an alert is reported through JDLink to notify those set up to receive JDLink alerts for the machine, such as a superintendent or equipment manager.
Spending just a few thousand dollars on an optional safety system like this is much more affordable and will help save lives, versus the millions of dollars a company will pay out due to a lawsuit a company will pay due to [a] jobsite fatality, Parker says.
According to Parker, Hyundai offers an all-around monitoring system with intelligent motion object detection as an option for customers. Parker believes this optional offering will eventually become the standard in the future.
According to Hurdis, rearview cameras are standard in most Cat machines. Other safety-enhancing technologies are available from Cat, as well. Aggregate producers can add cameras that cover the sides of machines or blind spot radar-detection systems, collision warning systems or even a system monitoring an operators eye and head position that vibrates the seat if the operator nods off.
Cab design is yet another contributor to jobsite safety, Hurdis says. Mirror size and placement, and dash and internal monitor placement each play a role in providing visibility to all key areas of the machine while also eliminating blind spots.
Improving visibility is a focus at John Deere, too. A project underway at the company is an advanced radar object-detection system that builds on existing technology to include projected path lines and escalating alerts.
Still, yet another safety challenge many aggregate operations face is with the equipment operators themselves, as theres a shortage of skilled equipment operators available today that must be addressed to ultimately take mobile equipment safety to higher levels.
Telematics is another safety feature most manufacturers incorporate within equipment. Through telematic systems, customers can track safety-related statistics in addition to machine location, hours of operation and fuel level.
Customers have to take the data and turn it into action, whether awareness or training for their employees, Hurdis says.If you can monitor it, you can manage it. And if you can manage it, you can change it is a good motto to follow for any operation.
Hyundai also offers a mobile app that delivers operation, location, maintenance and alarm information at a glance a helpful tool for jobsite managers and safety personnel. John Deere offers a similar system through its JDLink mobile app and online dashboard, which includes alert history from the L-Series wheel loader seat belt minder system. Each alert includes details such as date, time, location, machine hours and duration.