Constructing, working on, and inspecting tunnels all pose unique problems and challenges for any field personnel, regardless of how well-equipped you are. Safe tunnelling, whether that is in the excavation or monitoring stage is all about minimising the necessary risks and eliminating the unnecessary risks.
Today it has become much easier than the traditional tunnelling methods of previous centuries, largely thanks to modern excavation equipment and boring tools, but also thanks to the approach to work. With a greater focus on employee and workplace safety, increasing efficiency in line with new methods, and constantly improving tunnelling as a whole; there is now great advantages that were previously not available to workers. One of these new tools is digital inspection, a way for management to demonstrate that they care both about the efficiency of the cutting tool and the safety of their mining staff.
Digital inspection within tunnelling helps to promote safe tunnelling. This means that workers on the job are backed up by inspections of their workplace conditions, the equipment that they use, the protective gear they wear and the methods that they carry out. All these things can be monitored and inspected using digital checklists. Running off a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, paperless inspection reports have several obvious and several less obvious benefits to the user and management. Any inspection field personnel or officer can instantly make use of device features such as the camera to record pictures and scan barcodes of necessary equipment/RFID etc. These images and information can be directly integrated into a report to demonstrate compliance. Any image can also be annotated to highlight a deficiency or area of note. For a hands-free approach, speech-to-text services can be used to enter information rapidly, whilst automatic GPS timestamps enter yet another piece of information into the fold. For management, there is the possibility to setup corrective actions that can be pre-configured for an inspection. This means that when an inspector records a tunnel deficiency such as the lighting in the service tunnel, then a pre-configured and pre-authorised corrective action can be applied immediately. If this is the eventual remedy or fix to the issue, it immediately knocks out the down time and bureaucracy of having to source a repair or maintenance team to schedule in a fix. Extrapolated over numerous inspections and/or locations, such small differences can have a gigantic impact over time.