Today we were contacted by a vendor who came looking for our opinion on his product, and whether we thought it would be of use in the mining industry. Sometimes it can be easy to discern whether something will have any value to a miner, yes or no, quite simple. Other times it can be more difficult, and you wonder if hindsight will render its use obvious and maybe you deserve a bit of a kicking for being so closed minded.
Today’s product is nothing new, we have seen it in the form of a little orange man we drag about whenever we check what the hotel we are staying in looks like, show someone the house we grew up in, or just how my street would look if it was ever sunny in Vancouver. This product is of course Streetview, not by Google, but a smaller company who sells the equipment to do our own little street survey.
Mapping specific to mining is nothing new, InfoMine sell maps of mines throughout the world complete with geology, property status and commodity group. If I were asked a few years ago if miners would pay for this, I’m not sure my answer would have accounted for people’s appreciation for this kind of visual information.
So, if we turned Streetview into Mineview, would this be of any use to anyone? I can’t see how this would make any money for the mine so it would have to be installed entirely for the benefit of the workers on the mine, but in what way, what benefit?
One thing that always struck me about a producing mine is how suddenly it can change. You may drive around the same way every day and overnight work on a pipeline may cause that road to be closed and you could be faced with travelling along an unfamiliar road to your destination. Could an up-to-date Mineview help? It would certainly have to be updated very regularly to be of any use in this regard. Maybe what we are looking for is a rapidly changing mine map to help us with these detours, would Mineview be useful here?
If you have ever tried having contractors who are unfamiliar with the site try to find you? I’m sure that the ability to see landmarks along their route ahead of time would be appreciated. An increase in productivity for the mine maybe?
Where I think the real value of this kind of system would lie is in the area of site orientation for new hires. If you have ever worked on a mine or even a large construction site you have had a first day and a safety induction. The safety induction outlines general areas on site, muster points and emergency procedures. The amount of information can often be overwhelming, you are being told where you will be working, where you must go during an emergency, and how to get there….. all this for a site you have not even set foot on. The ability to take a virtual tour here would be of real value and I believe could be used to justify the cost in increasing awareness for new people on site (new hires, contractors and visitors) who are statistically more likely to be injured in the first place.
So I ask, what do you think? If you were a mine manager would you consider a Mineview type system? What uses can you identify? Or is it just another example of a creature comfort that we don’t really need? DIY Streetview.