Smart Lighting, Automation & Safety: An Interview with Nate Klieve

December 19, 2019

International Mining featured "Mine Lighting" as a spotlight in the Dececmber 2019 issue. Paul Moore spoke to our very own Nate Klieve, Managing Director of Mining and Industrial. Here's a look at the interview.

Paul: A big focus in the industry of mine lighting now seems to be “smart” lighting, where lights can adapt to certain situations and conditions, is this an area Phoenix is working on?

Nate: Phoenix has been talking with both our mine site customers and OEM's about "smart" lighting and controls for more than 3 years now. The truth of the matter is, the mining industry is generally behind the rest of the lighting industry in adoption of these technologies. If we look at our own individual consumer lives today, we can turn the lights off in our home from anywhere in the world. Our thermostats can sense when we are coming within 5 miles of our home and adjust the temperature for our arrival. And our doorbells can tell us when a package has been dropped on our doorstep. The technologies exist and are mature today for us to combine to improve operating profitability, productivity, safety and operator experience. When you think about the electrical infrastructure of a mine site, lights are everywhere - either permanent or temporary. They have power, and they have a mounting structure. Integration of the technologies that provide valuable customization, information and data to achieve all of the benefits mentioned previously is really not that difficult.

Paul: With more and more equipment becoming autonomous does that affect the direction the industry will go? Are there different lighting requirements for an unmanned machine whether for practical or safety reasons?

Nate: Regardless of manned or unmanned equipment, the "smart" technologies previously discussed are still going to be the way of the future for lighting within mining sites. There is a common belief from sites that we talk to that a truly autonomous mine is likely generations away mainly within extraction machinery. The trained eye and problem solving of an operator reading the ore body through the bench is a very difficult thing to program. That said, lighting solutions for autonomous equipment will remain important and not too dissimilar from those of manned equipment. Autonomous equipment will still need to be monitored from a control or command center. These monitors will need to be able to see and comprehend what is happening as quickly or quicker than an onboard operator, so the lighting solutions will have to be built for purpose. Also, the autonomous equipment monitoring will be done by camera. Therefore, not only will the lighting have to be optimized for camera settings and characteristics, just like a manned operator can be disoriented by improper or oncoming lights, the camera systems will have the same issue. The lighting on board will have to take all of this into consideration. So, the answer is really 'yes’ to both. The lighting requirements are not drastically different, but a new media through which they are seen bring new considerations. And these changes are both for practical reasons and safety reasons when it comes to a remote monitored/operated machine.

Paul: What level of industry takeup has there been of The Danger Light and again do you have any market feedback on it?

Nate: Since we launched the Danger Light there has been a ground swell of reaction from the mining industry. So much so that we had to quickly develop and launch a DC voltage version because of customer demand. (the original unit was launched in AC voltages only) We have fleets of electric rope shovels and excavators from Colombia to Russia to Australia to Canada and US all adding the Danger Light as a standard safety enhancement feature. The Danger Light is designed and intended to provide visual indication of potentially unsafe locations for equipment, personnel or assets near or around earth moving equipment. Our customers are seeing big benefits in this solutions ability to help their people avoid costly accidents and collisions. In a recent product discussion with a customer of ours, they stated "I am most proud of the fact that we have without a doubt saved a life in the mining industry already because of these lights". That is ultimately why we do what we do at Phoenix!

For the full December 2019 issue of International Mining visit: