Provix: Thermal Vision Vital in COVID-19 Fight
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Provix: Thermal Vision Vital in COVID-19 Fight

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Karly Winfield - Provix
Vice President of Technical Sales


Q: How has Provix’s expertise been deployed in the development of COVID-19 applications?

A: Provix is a video integration company and a video system supplier. We also work with collision avoidance systems and other safety systems. Among other uses, our technology is ideal for enhancing visibility around heavy machinery. Thermal cameras are at the center of these applications. When COVID-19 broke out, we adapted our thermal cameras to the new industry needs. We altered the alarm parameters of our thermal cameras and fine-tuned them for screening people’s temperature. We are now supplying a resource to minimize COVID-19-related risks.

Thermal cameras measure a person’s temperature. If someone is within range of the camera, the system will measure his forehead temperature. We set the camera to an alarm parameter that lets you know if the person is within or outside the allowed temperature. This allows us to determine whether they have a fever, which is one of the main symptoms of COVID-19. Our cameras work very well at a mine site where there are tens of employees coming on shift at one time. You can quickly identify the precise individual who is coming in with a fever. The scanning takes just one second per person, so queues are dramatically reduced.

Many companies are implementing temperature screening procedures for their employees. IR thermometers at security points are a common technology for doing this. But these thermometers have risks, which thermal cameras can reduce. It is no longer necessary to have somebody manually administering the test in close contact with the person being tested as thermal cameras can be operated at a safe distance. Also, thermal cameras are a much less expensive alternative than another popular screening method: running quick COVID-19 tests. The ROI for thermal cameras is clear, they are non-contact and quickly deployable.

Q: How do your FireWatch cameras work and what issue do they solve?

A: FireWatch cameras are also based on thermal measurement technology. They are similar to the COVID-19 detection cameras, but the application is different. FireWatch cameras are well-suited to monitor areas in a mine where heat-related work, such as welding, is carried out, creating the potential for a fire. Typically, a mine would have to deploy a person on fire watch to monitor the area where the work was completed. But that is risky for the person doing the watch. It also leaves room for human error. Instead, we deploy a security system that will send an alert if the temperature becomes too high. Instead of having someone posted on fire watch for five hours, you can monitor it via camera. It is safer and more effective as it frees up personnel for other jobs.

Q: How can Provix help miners that are interested in switching to remote operations?

A: Remote work and automation are trends that predate COVID-19. The pandemic has accelerated these trends. Provix supplies technologies like remote controls and camera systems that allow miners to operate their vehicles remotely. We have systems that let operators see what is happening around the machinery. When you remove a person from the machine, you remove eyes from the machine. You need to install new eyes to operate safely. Our camera systems are the new eyes. You can then operate the machine safely either from a remote location or on-surface if it is an underground operation.

A successful application of our technology took place at the Diavik diamond mine, which is owned by Rio Tinto and Dominion Diamonds. It is Canada’s largest diamond mine. We supplied safety cameras for their bolter machines. Bolters are used in underground operations. Engineers put screening in place first and then they bolt. We installed systems to allow operators to sit back in a shipping container a few hundred feet away from the machines. The camera we provided has a zoom range of 36 times. It allowed the operator to control the bolter. The operator could see 36 times better with the cameras than he could have sitting directly in the machine. As a result of the intervention, drilling production was increased by 50 percent.

Q: What mine rescue solutions does Provix provide?

A: Our mine rescue applications are based on the same technology as the thermal cameras. We use them to detect a person or a broken-down asset. We supply systems to the OEMs that manufacture the mine rescue vehicles. Typical mine rescue vehicles are outfitted with thermal cameras and blue LED lighting. We supply both technologies, as well as gas detection systems and wireless and hard-wired communication systems. The technology we supply has been involved in major mine rescues, like that in Copiapo, Chile, where 33 men trapped 700 meters underground were rescued after more than two months.

Provix specializes in enhancing visibility; specifically, video camera systems with rugged capabilities. The company develops cost-effective solutions, from thermal imaging in the mining and oil sands, to FireWatch cameras for heat detection, to temperature sensing for industrial and healthcare applications. They supply collision avoidance and safety systems for heavy equipment.

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