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UA mining invention comes to life

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In the past ten years, 430 workers died in mining incidents. Now, a new University of Arizona-invented mining communication and sensor platform aims to drastically drop that number.

The technology is known as “SMART (System for Managing Advanced Response Technology) Suite 5.0”. The system senses components of worker health and safety, mine air quality, geolocation, communication and ground stabilization detection. It does this by monitoring real-time communication across all mining operations. The system’s core is the ability to sense a miner’s location and body temperature, predict potential problems and recommend steps to avert health risks.

The inventing team includes Moe Momayez, UA associate professor of mining and geological engineering, Mary Poulton, Distinguished Professor Emerita of mining and geological engineering, and Sergio Cardona, Oro Valley technology entrepreneur. The team worked with UA office Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) to define and patent the invention, identify and build the startup team, and license the technology.

The UA startup company GUIA licensed the technology. While the team’s initial focus for this system is mining, the company is looking to apply the technology to a number of other environments.

“GUIA is the only company on the market addressing this serious issue by offering a single, integrated technology,” Momayez said. “SMART Suite is at the vanguard of today’s available technologies to monitor mine environment, worker health, reduce operational risk and improve safety.”

According to Momayez, the total cost of a mining accident can be devastating, with a possible economic impact of over $5 million per incident. This includes expenses such as basic financial costs, human costs (including rehabilitation, death benefits, bodily injury indemnities and income replacement) and a significant, potentially crippling loss of productivity.

TLA mentor-in-residence Kevin McLaughlin served as an adviser to the team throughout the process.

“It’s been a pleasure working with the GUIA team on their application of internet-of-things technology,” McLaughlin said. “They have developed a system that will positively impact the lives of people working in dangerous environments around the world.”

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