The mining industry inspection issue presents diverse challenges for workers and organisations, sometimes on a daily basis.
A fast-changing environment means there is a constant requirement to monitor different assets, safety equipment and processes. Workers and organisations are today suffering from outdated, inefficient inspection methods based on the highly-dated pen and paper checklist inspection system. Deficiencies can slip through the safety net, and sometimes go unchecked for too long; causing expensive repair or remedy costs. Since the introduction of the PDA (Personal Digital Assistance) in the 1990s, there is however a growing new way to inspect things at the workplace. Paperless inspection systems are now allowing many different businesses and firms to completely transform their inspection process, putting efficiency and effectiveness at the top of priorities.
Whilst the PDA ushered in a new era of handheld technology in the workplace in the late 1990s, the smartphones and tablets have taken up the mantel in the 21st century. The power of the modern mobile or tablet device vastly exceeds what was ever imagined possible in PDA times and brings many more features and ways of recording than the pen and paper method. The system is based around an application on the device that works just like any other commercial app but is also paired with a back-end database or web portal interface. Users of the mobile device application can take advantage of the mobile device camera to take pictures of deficiencies such as that in any Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), recording breakages or excessive wear using the touchscreen annotation of the image and attach it to a checklist or the process. In just one image, the entire deficiency can be presented, allowing the repair or maintenance team to quickly determine the best action to take. The camera function can also be used to scan barcodes and RFID. Workers using the smartphone or tablet device can similarly make use of the standardised response checklist layouts for rapid information entry, and benefit from automatically suggested corrective actions – based on custom predetermined logics. Reference material such as manuals, drawings, inductions, or specific compliance forms like ISO 21984, ISO 14001, ISO 17096 or 53.020 can be added to any checklist alongside previous inspection reports or images. This allows field inspectors and technicians to quickly examine assets or methods in line with regulations, previous performance and safety.