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Smart visors enable asset deployment

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article image The CIS has applications beyond the chemical industry and truck fleets.

A WORLD-leading fleet deployment tool has come from a conversation at a Sydney trade show between two men in blue shirts and King Gee trousers, and a Dominion Electronics representative in a polo shirt.

The visitors were thinking of something to cost perhaps $25,000 per truck. What they got was from-the-ground-up Dominion development and delivery of a total control and monitoring system (CIS). Cost per truck: about $13,000.

This success story starts with one of the ‘men in blue’ saying: "We've seen your literature, and we think your control system would work in our explosive trucks."

He was right, even though at the time, Dominion had no idea what an explosive truck was.

In brief, it's a truck that, unlike petrol tankers, doesn't explode in accidents, even while ferrying powerful explosive chemicals to mine sites.

On the road, the trucks carry their ingredients in separate bins.

Alongside the mine hole where the customer wants the blast, they blend the ingredients into one of more than 1000 different explosive formulas and feed the mixture directly into the planned explosive site.

The actual mixing is done underground, after the meticulously measured ingredients have left the truck.

The mix must be accurate, and the final proportions may be decided onsite in conference between the truck operator and mining engineers.

Think of a cement pour, and you have some slight idea of how this works. The trucks are named MMUs - mobile manufacturing units.

Beyond their manufacturing role, Dominion's visitors said, the MMUs should have automated radio communications to ensure they arrived at the right hole on time, deliver the right ingredients in the right proportions, provide accurate printed delivery slips onsite at the time of each delivery, and prompt, accurate reports on each trip.

And they wanted a solution that would save time and money.

What they deploy today is a Dominion solution: a purpose-designed smart visor atop the windscreen of each MMU.

Its success shows in more accurate and timely explosive deliveries to customer; in reduced delivery times and costs; in faster and more cost-effective communications linking each MMU activity to the host company's SAP enterprise resource planning software.

The successful application grew from Dominion's initial 60-page user requirement specification backed with a functional specification some 200 pages in length.

In the CIS environment, customers send the explosives company "blast plans", detailing when and where they want the explosives, and what explosives they want.

By radio, the explosives company directs an MMU to the site, and feeds delivery details - location, time, mixture - into the smart visor. At the explosive site, CIS digital controls dispense chemicals from the MMU bins, mixing them as they feed to the blast site.

The truck operator can confirm details onsite, and modify them when needed by keying the changes into automated telling machine-style visor pad.

An LCD screen confirms the accuracy to the satisfaction of MMU operator and the mine site engineer before the explosive is dispensed.

Dispensation itself remains the simple push-button operation accurate to within one per cent that's a major benefit of Dominion control and information system.

On site, the operator can also key needed accounting information such as additional charges due to waiting time. Delivery complete and the customer supplied with a printed delivery note, the driver moves on to the next job or else back to the depot.

When within range of the home plant, all delivery data downloads automatically by radio, and autolinks data to the corporate ERP for accounting, invoicing and stock control. The MMU operator plays no part in this.

Many fleet owners will recognise several merits in the Dominion-designed and manufactured control and information system, which weds automation and human intervention in the delivery and mixing processes, and provides accurate record-keeping without wasted time. Dominion Electronics 02 9906 6988.

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