Radar sensors are quickly becoming a part of many people’s daily commute to and from work. From Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) to Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) to Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), radar sensors are moving from luxury to economy models of consumer vehicles. There are now over a million of these sensors being produced annually. Because of this widespread automotive usage, medium- and heavy-duty industries are adopting radar sensors for their blind spot monitoring and collision avoidance needs, too.
Technology can be a wonderful thing, especially when applied to heavy-duty vehicle safety. At first, the process of determining which products will be beneficial can be overwhelming, but after doing some research and finally taking the plunge you will realize how much safer your fleet and work site can be.
Normally, PRECO customers use our technology to warn heavy equipment operators of impending danger; an obstacle, a pedestrian, another vehicle. Occasionally, some companies come to us with a completely different set of requirements in mind, such as UK-based Equipe Geosolutions.
Equipe Geosolutions develops new technologies for the global drilling industry. Among its products are portable drilling rigs used by the construction industry to probe the subsoil on which new buildings will be built.
When creating or designing a product, engineers spend an awful lot of time sitting at their desk working on a computer. The focus of this work is using computer aided design (CAD), to speed up the planning process and to minimize errors. CAD technology allows us to bring a product to market faster.
It’s no secret that working in the heavy-duty industry is one of the most productive, yet challenging and dangerous professions. Heavy-duty operators need to be nothing short of superhuman. Not only do they need a honed, specific skill-set, but they need simultaneous small- and large-picture awareness, and a game plan for when things don’t go as expected. Heavy-duty operators need to be able to think on their feet in a heightened environment to make the best decisions possible to avoid collision and injury. That’s no small task considering the inevitable risks associated with these jobs.
Refuse and recyclable materials collectors continue to rank in the top 10 in terms of civilian occupations with the highest fatal injury rates, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2014 and 2015 it was ranked the fifth most dangerous occupation.
The purpose behind testing a product is to verify that what you are shipping to the customer performs according to the product’s specifications. PRECO has a long list of customers, who have specific ideas about how they want their radar sensors to operate. Some customers want a narrow-beam radar, some want wide beam; some want long-range, some short range radar. We like to joke that we’re kind of like Burger King of radars: “Have it your way!”—hold the fries and the shake.
Currently, PRECO is able to calibrate and build custom units because we have a large test range that can verify the product functions according the customer’s specifications.
Forward collision mitigation technologies—those that detect how far and fast a vehicle in front of you is moving, and automatically apply the brakes to avoid a collision if you don’t—are rapidly advancing in the trucking industry. Good news, since forward collision avoidance systems can result in a 20% to 25% reduction in rear end fatalities and injuries. The even better news is that this number is expected to grow to 40% to 50% in the next generation of forward collision mitigation systems, and to 50% to 60% in future iterations.
PRECO’s PreView Sentry and Side Defender systems employ radar technology that detects both moving and stationary objects. These systems are based on Continuous Wave radar, a proven technology that has been around for decades. The earliest large-scale applications of continuous wave radar were for such things as weather radar and missile guidance. A newer variant of this technology, called Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW), is now becoming a mainstay in the machinery and automotive industries.
Since mining companies gain efficiency by moving more tonnage with fewer but larger vehicles, the trend leads toward ever-larger dozers, trucks, draglines and shovels. But the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind zones around them; and these blind zones can lead to potentially catastrophic accidents.
Larger Vehicles Can Mean More Danger
The blind zones around mining equipment can be huge: Sean Martell, PRECO’s mining and construction sales manager, says that when operating large haul trucks, drivers can lose visibility to a hazard when the person or object is as far away as 150 feet from the rear of these massive machines. That’s half a football field.
Picture this: You are flying 36,000 feet in the air, on your way to a family getaway at Disney World, and suddenly the plane experiences a critical system failure. Thanks to the multiple duplicate components and systems on the plane, a new system seamlessly takes over operation of the aircraft, and you and your family safely reach your destination, none the wiser.
The duplication of systems in this scenario is called redundancy, and it’s one of the most common fail-safe methods around. Merriam-Webster defines fail-safe as “incorporating some feature for automatically counteracting the effect of an anticipated possible source of failure.” Fail-safe is further described as “a device or practice that, in the event of a specific type of failure, responds or results in a way that will cause no harm, or at least minimize harm, to other devices or to personnel.”