GMG Functional Safety project wins Mining Magazine 2018 Safety Award

February 7, 2019

We are excited to announce that GMG won Mining Magazine’s 2018 Safety Award for the Autonomous Mining Working Group’s Functional Safety for Autonomous Equipment Project.

Yearly, Mining Magazine asks its readers to nominate, and then vote on, “people, companies, or groups that they feel have demonstrated outstanding commitment to advancing the state-of-play in mining over the last 12 months.” They announced the winners last week.

Project co-leaders, Gareth Topham – Principal Adviser, Functional Safety at Rio Tinto–and Chirag Sathe – Principal Risk & Business Analysis technology at BHP – are both happy to see the project recognized.

The project has already had a high level of engagement. To Topham, “[the award] reflects the incredible response we have had by the industry to partake in [it].”

For Sathe, this recognition “reconfirms the belief that we are on the right path to ensure that safety requirements are clear at each level in the autonomy construct.”

More broadly, Topham explains, “The award reflects the industry drive to continually improve and evolve our approach to safety.” It recognizes “that wherever there are fatality risks, we should and will reduce the risks as best as we can.”

The award reflects how the project meets an important need

Nominations opened in November, the month after the project launched. Reflecting on why this project was recognized at such an early stage, Sathe explains that there are two main reasons:

  • First, safety awareness is becoming increasingly ingrained in daily practices, “driving companies to be more vigilant while implementing new technology for mining.”
  • Second, there is currently “confusion and frustration” among mining companies, product developers, and product suppliers because it is unclear which standards to follow. This project addresses this pressing need for clarity.

“There is an industry-wide acceptance that such guidelines are crucial for the technology adoption,” Sathe further elaborates. This project will also potentially “increase innovation, as it will promote interoperable product development and provide new product developers (small scale developers) who are working on new and exciting technology with a clear understanding on what is required to get their product approved.”

Project progress

Since a productive and well-attended workshop in Perth last November, the project group has been hard at work. They developed a table of contents for the guideline and planned two more workshops – February 18 in Perth, Australia and March 26 in Edmonton, Canada – to develop the content further. The current goal is to publish the guideline by the end of the year.


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