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Orange Business Services and De Beers Release Geofencing Solution for Offshore Mining Safety

By Ken Briodagh
September 14, 2020

According to a recent release, Orange Business Services, a network-native digital services company, and De Beers Marine South Africa, a division the diamond company, have jointly installed and tested a customized IoT solution to provide geofencing designed to maintain safe working distances for crew around the heavy machinery involved in marine diamond mining operations. The new solution reportedly was successfully piloted on board the MV Mafuta, currently the world’s largest offshore diamond mining vessel owned and operated by Debmarine Namibia and operating up to 150 km off the coast of Namibia, in southern Africa.

Diamond mining vessels bring crew and heavy machinery into close proximity, and De Beers said it wanted to improve operating safety for personnel, so the Orange IoT solution was developed.

For the pilot, Orange Business Services said it imported the Mafuta’s AutoCAD files and undertook an onboard site survey to map antenna locations in order to geofence a predetermined area on the vessel. Ten crew members were equipped with wrist sensors. If one of the crew breached the geofenced area onboard the vessel, the ship’s bridge was alerted immediately.

De Beers said it is now further exploring additional applications, such as a breach alert function to link the sensors directly to the mining machinery via a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) control system and PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), to facilitate a failsafe cut-off in the event of a breach in the geofence.

“Debmarine Namibia has a very clear aim of ‘zero harm’ across all our operations, and we are constantly looking at ways of enhancing employee safety and especially around the heavy machinery required for diamond recovery operations,” said Gerhardus Theron, Vessel Manager of the MV Mafuta. “The initial engagement consultation and joint workshop with the team from Orange Business Services was very productive and quickly identified the potential for an IoT solution to ensure the wellbeing of personnel onboard the vessels. We quickly moved to a pilot phase, which has now confirmed the potential of this innovative approach that we could embed within our existing safety processes and procedures.”


Ken Briodagh is a storyteller, writer and editor with about two decades of experience under his belt. He is in love with technology and if he had his druthers would beta test everything from shoe phones to flying cars.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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