Innovation and Technology

Ideas at Work: Using Technology for Practical Solutions

How Teck is innovating to improve safety and visibility, and reduce cable damage at Greenhills Operations.

With the amount of technology in our daily lives, almost everyone has dealt with the challenge of a damaged cable. At home, this could result in a minor inconvenience, but at our operations, a damaged cable could have much more serious consequences.

At Greenhills Operations (GHO), a number of cables were at risk of being damaged, either as a result of being run over by heavy equipment or by being buried by snow. Damaged and lost cables were also leading to operational issues and replacement costs, a challenge for GHO and shared across other Teck operations. And while Teck has established extensive procedures to safely manage live cables, any solution to further reduce the likelihood of a live cable disconnect was a welcome layer of defence.

Prasad Gudivada, Electrical Engineer and Deployment Specialist, knew there had to be a solution to the cable challenges at Greenhills. After surveying several sensor solutions in the market, Prasad proposed an idea to include the use of GPS contours and lighted cables. 

“Two potential opportunities came to me,” said Prasad when asked about the inspiration behind the concept. “One was cost savings, and the other and more important opportunity was the significant improvement in safety. My intent was to see if we could improve reliability through engineering to achieve progress in both of those areas.”
Prasad presented his idea to the Ideas at Work Fund and was approved to bring the cable visibility project to life. He then began working with a number of vendors using their pre-built modules to address the issue. 

“We were exploring different vendors to address our pain point,” said Prasad. “Some were successful and others were not. Upon reviewing technology and features of a few pre-built modules from PYGO Inc., we ended up approving one of their solutions to suit our needs.”

The project allowed for greater data analysis, helping to identify trends and ultimately process solutions. In addition, those on-site could simply tap specific sensors, using heavy-duty tablets designed for field and industrial settings and have the ability to view the GPS location of a cable or see its energized conditions. From that information, there was reduced risk of losing buried cables, as the sensors could transmit a data packet under two feet of snow, adding an additional layer of safety.

The next stage of the project will be looking at end-to-end testing of 20 sensors over the span of almost two kilometres. This will provide a baseline and essential information when looking at the potential to roll out similar systems throughout Teck sites.  

“Field runners who deal with the day-to-day were all too familiar with the problem, and experienced the challenges firsthand,” explained Prasad. “To see this project resonate with the people on the ground and to find solutions to specific issues has been really rewarding.” 


Ideas at Work and RACE21™: What’s the connection? 

Ideas at Work and RACE21™ are two important programs that work together to help drive innovation and technology at Teck. 

Ideas at Work focuses on innovation with a level of uncertainty—think of it like an incubator or a test site for new ideas. RACE21™ has a strong focus on technology implementation. Once Ideas at Work projects are tested and show potential value and feasibility, they can be implemented and scaled through RACE21™. 

For further information on developing Ideas at Work Fund submissions, reach out to the Technology and Innovation group by contacting Dan Parker (Coal), Tammy Salway (Base Metals) or Keith Mayhew (Corporate).