June 2007 – Billings, Montana

Our discussion centered around wireless communication and information systems. These systems are getting more affordable, user-friendly, and practical as each week passes. There are a number of providers and platforms available in the market. Solar panels are becoming widely used for powering wireless bridges and equipment. Falkirk Mine is using wireless data transfer systems on their coal haulage trucks. At this point, each operation has specific needs and conditions of operation for wireless systems. It is a technology that is not “one size fits all”. Look for multiple and rapid advancements in this equipment and technology in the future.

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Crowne Plaza Billings Hotel
27 North 27th Street
Billings, Montana

Meeting Minutes

June 6th, Wednesday
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Registration and Hospitality room

June 7th, Thursday
7:00 am – 8:00 am


8:00 am – 8:30 am

Opening remarks/Business Meeting
– Ed Barnett President

8:30 am – 9:30 am

Group Discussion
– Divide into groups to discuss Safety, New Innovations and Technology, Problems and solutions, and Future Meeting Presentation Topics. Summary of discussion will be presented the following morning.

9:30 am – 9:45 am


9:45 am –10:45 am

The Benefits of Knowing Your Commutator Profile
– Gary Lozowski of National Carbon Products, Mark Rokusek of Foundation Coal

10:45 am – 11:00 am


11:00 am – 12:00 am

Work Keys-a business skills assessment system developed by ACT.
– Mark MacLennan – ACT Workforce Development Division

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm


1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

2570 Dragline relocation at North Antelope/Rochelle Mine
– Jim Schackleford – Powder River Coal

2:30 pm -2:45 pm


2:45 pm – 3:45 pm

WiMAX to WSN – The Large and Small of Industrial Wireless Networks
– Chris Poe, Ted Lapis – Automation Electric

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Level Measurement and Plugged Chute Detection – Jack Evans – Hawk

5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Hospitality room

June 8th, Friday
8:00 am – 9:00 am

Group Discussion
– Summary of Group Discussions held on Thursday

9:00 am – 9:15 am


9:15 am – 10:15 am

Design and Installation Consideration for Medium Voltage Drive on a Conveyor Application
– Powder River Coal Installation. George Seggewiss – Medium Voltage Group, Rockwall Automation

10:15 am – 11:15 am

Low Resistance Parallel Ground Paths
– Monte Wilke – Western Energy

11:15 am – 11:45 am

Tuning up DC Motors and Generators for Commutation and Performance
– Rich Hall – National Carbon Products

11:45 am – 12:00 am

Closing remarks
– Ed Barnett, President

12:00 am – 1:00 pm


1:00 pm

Steering committee meeting

Topics Discussed

ACT – WorkKeys-a business skills assessment system

Hawk – Level Measurement and Plugged Chute Detection

Mine Monument

NECP & Foundation Coal–Benefits of Knowing Your Commutator Profile

NECP – Tuning DC Motors and Generators

Powder River Coal – 2570 Dragline Relocation at North Antelope Rochelle Mine

Proxim Wireless – WiMAX and Related High Speed Technology

RLW – Wireless Sensor Networks

Rockwell – Medium Voltage Drive on a Conveyor

Safety Contact

Western Energy – Low Resistance Parallel Ground Paths

Group Discussions

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

Group 6

Group 1 Discussion

Group Leader – Martin Reyes


Jay Bushane North American Coal:
Talked about their company going 3 yrs w/not LTA

National Carbon:
Talked about their achievement of 26yrs with not LTA at their manufacturing plant

Lynn Rasmussen P&H:
Discussed how the safety mine set is very different over seas compare to how its here in the states. Discussed how overseas properties had very little safety training and you pretty much had to rely on your own experience and training.

Martin Reyes Barrick Goldstrike:
Discussed their recent rash of hand injuries, how management has gone out and supplied different style of work gloves for better protection.

Terry Jeans of TXU:
Talked about their employee drive safety observation program called BST were employees do safety observations on each other, the incentive program that goes with it for how many cards are turned monthly in for gifts etc.

Lynn Rasmussen P&H:
Talked about their employee stretch program that they do prior to their start of shift, has been very beneficial in reducing muscle strain type injuries especial in their older work force.

The group discussed how MSHA reaction and change since the Sago disaster, their new way of issuing fines and amounts. Really looking more at individual accountability instead of just the company.

Problems and solution:

The work force shortage in all industries, how everyone is in the same boat trying to find qualified personnel. How they are targeting tech colleges doing apprenticeship program in conjunction with the college so they can tailor the program to their needs.

Powder Rive Coal discussed the fatality they recently had due to unqualified personnel had keys to electrical department locks. They changed all their locks and put in a more controlled way of who has keys for these.

New Innovations:

James Bell discussed a new product for stick welding units called a voltage reducing system. It reduces the voltage when not in used to eliminate the potential.

Future presentations:

Continued training workshops in conjunction with WMEA meetings.

Possible hands on training along with the presentation that is being given.

Doing one main topic for the meeting example; Ground fault protection any presentation given should be related to ground fault protection.

Increased spring pressure benefits. Jeff Koenitzer Helwig

Future location:

Las Vegas!!

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Group 2 Discussion

Group Leader – Rich Hall

We had a round table introduction telling who we were and if we were a supplier or member.

Safety and new issues:

Garry Farnsworth brought up the issue of arc flash protection. Many companies are instituting arc flash protection.

Eric Peterborg brought up problems with wearing protective gear in changing weather conditions. Arc flash equipment is bulky, expensive ad cumbersome to use.

Safety is one of the biggest issues arising on worksites as noted by Kenneth Johnson. More companies require better training in MSHA rules. Jim Shackleford stated that when problems arise the onus falls on the company and then the individuals involved. Ken Scobie said that if due diligence can be shown and you have a paper trail, you can mitigate a lot of the issue that arise. Richard Hall made note of a national brush plant in Canada that has a 25 year accident free achievement and it is because of the safety culture that they have developed.

Jim Shackleford brought up an issue that there are problems between intergovernmental agencies. The ATF had come onto a site without informing the site people to check on the safe storage of the magazine for explosives. They were caught but MSHA cited the site because unauthorized people were on the site.

Mark Demsy noted that there war not consistent rules from site to site. This causes problems for contractors and vendors who go to various places.

Mark Johnson felt that safety rules should be standardized.

Richard Hall noted that safety equipment and procedures vary.

Jim Shackleford felt that a discussion of standards for safety should be discussed by the WMEA group.

New technology:

New technology is changing how the workplace does things. By using wireless technology and using pressure transducers for outputs Garry Farnsworth said maintenance at his mine can monitor greasing of individual pieces of equipment to make sure things are working right and eliminate costly breakdowns.

Hazardous products such as lead and mercury are being banned from worksites and that MSDS’s should be readily available so workers can take steps to protect themselves when they work with various chemicals and agents on site.

Mark Dusky noted that it is getting hard to hire qualified people in any industry.

Jim Shackleford said that they had problems with contractors bringing unqualified people to work. This causes extra downtime and money being spent to correct deficiencies. Having people who know how to do the job, how to work safely and efficiently is a goal we have to strive for.

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Group 3 Discussion

Group Leader – Phil Graybrick


Started the discussion with a safety share – Mark Perkins of Helwig. The suggestion was made that when vendors are working on mine sites, they watch out for others and not just for themselves. If something isn’t right, make it safe.

Another situation was observed by Michael Dame of Hampton Power. When making a trip into their warehouse, he observed a cleaning contractor using a forklift to help co-workers access shelves to clean them. They were actually being hoisted to elevated areas on the forks. The activity was stopped and owner of the company was alerted and briefed on proper safety standards. The rented scissors lift to complete the job.

Joe Echols – lost a son in a car accident and became heavily involved in safety. Unsafe acts will EAT you alive – Education, Attitude, Teamwork. With those three factors you can improve safety.

Jace Rush of P&H talked about establishing live testing procedures. A test lead pulled out of a DataQ recorder and was still attached to the live conductor.

Should not use cheap multimeters. Fluke 87 is Category IV and approved for use. Many mines provide that meter.

The question came up about how often meters should be calibrated.


Remote Racking Device and reduced cycle time when switching. Make sure that you are using the correct type of fusing – proper circuit interruption.

Toshiba talked about their new G9 – H9 drives using simple PLC logic for communication. They also use distributed control.

P&H just commissioned their first AC machine. It has no delay on crowd-propel transfer. It uses IGBT’s in the inverters.

Toshiba talked about their drive control software. It has a Bluetooth wireless connection which allows program access, program changes and downloads without opening the drive. New static drives for motor and generator excitation reduces flashovers due to more finite control.

Jared Benson or Barrick talked about implementing Arc Flash protection. At this time vendors are not required to follow the same rules on their properties and he felt that they should be.

On the subject of arc flash:

The question came up as to how many managers have seen an arc flash film?

Should the mine set up a committee to explore arc flash options?

Some mines have restricted access to MG set areas when digging and limited time the machine house to 2 hours due to noise exposure.

Are noise cancelling earmuffs available? Some one suggested the maybe they are not MSHA approved.

No cell phones are allowed in vehicles in Canada, safety rule.


· Has anyone done any research on DC arc flash?

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Group 4 Discussion

Group Leader – Travis Sondrol


Dave Mathiot with EMS has seen some positive things come from Behavior Based Safety observations, when observing an unsafe behavior they try to communicate the unsafe behavior in a positive way instead of scolding so to speak, say we care about you we want you to go home in one piece please put on you safety glasses

Steve Castillo said that it took three years to really get a safety program in place. In starting it really needed Managements input and backing to make it a success. They also have started a safety points and rewards system that has proved to work well. Also wants everyone to not be on the defensive when approached about doing an unsafe act people are just looking out for you.

Gerard Flegel they do a tool box meeting at the beginning of every shift they go over all the possible hazards that might be in countered for that day

Paul Kling would like to see a presentation on the possible advantages of a rewards based safety system

I talked about Rio Tinto Energy Americas Take 5 program we have re vamped it we have given the work force Take 5 books that they can carry with them. The guys on the floor can use it as a tool to help them recognize hazards. They can also right the items down to remind them the next time and share them with others.

Mike Smith said they recently did a job with Coors the job entailed equipment swap out hot Coors put on a 3 day training course in which they thoroughly covered arc flash and a step by step process for the job. The job was completed safely in on hour.

Don Paterson Would like to see a solution or what can be done to prevent the incident that happened last fall with the electrical fatality. Maybe some one with in the WMEA group could let us know what happened how this unfortunate accident can be avoided by others in the future.

Would WMEA be able to get some shirts and giveaways to give to the mines for safety awards?

New Technology:

Mike Smith told us about a new drive from Toshiba the G-9 that replaces the G-7 Has basic PLC functionality with counters and timers. If installed with the optional card it has programmable inputs and outputs it also has an optional communications card it is for 1-350 hp motors at 460 volt

Don Selkirk, Startco has small format termination devices for ground checks also has a new age feeder protection with IEEE and IEC curve matching and looking to have some new differential motor protection in the next year

Flanders Electric has bought the 3270 W dragline and has it for sale as an operating dragline

Future Meeting Topics:

Future WMEA meeting topics and items to look at:

Gerard Flegel was wondering if any one had any warm weather machine procedures for operating in extreme heat. We have all heard of items for extreme cold just wanted to see if there was anything for heat

The group would like to see follow ups on past presentations how up grades and that sort of thing are doing 3-5 years down the road

Paul Kling was wondering if WMEA would do a discount for first time attendees to try and attract new attendees

The vendors would like to remind everyone about the advertising on the web site www.wmea.net

Setting up motor protection on dragline sync motors

Future Meeting Sites:

Cordalane ID, Alaska, New Orleans

Back To Group Discussion List Top of Page

Group 5 Discussion

Group Leader – Randy Lindborg

Our discussion began with conversation regarding safety in the workplace. The primary topic was Arc Blast/Flash safety. Members of our group from Rio Tinto operations stated that they have a comprehensive program in place. An outside consultant was brought in to assess all potentially hazardous areas and classify them. Color coded cards are used to determine the protective gear necessary to work safely in any particular area. Coveralls, hoods, gloves, and other gear is available from multiple manufacturers. It sounds like coveralls rated at 11.2 cal, are substantial enough for protection in most areas of exposure. However, a drawback to some of the gear is the fact that it is bulky and hot. Newer styles of protection are available in suits that are layered. Layers can be removed if they are not needed for the particular exposure level being encountered. None of us actually has any experience with these newer layered suits yet. To date, the NFPA has only studied and came out with ratings and recommendations for AC areas. DC studies and findings are supposed to come out within the next couple of years.

We talked about personnel exposures in the vicinity of running MG sets. Falkirk Mine has fenced off the entire MG set areas on their machines to limit or prevent access while in operation. They have also established physical barriers adjacent to the sets to minimize hazard exposure to personnel outside of the fenced area. Red Hills Mine and others are utilizing remotely operated cameras, with monitors in the cabs to watch the MG sets while in operation.

We discussed general electrical safety, and recent fatalities that have taken place in our industry. A number of individual issues were identified:

Fatigue at work:
This obviously can contribute to safety problems and accidents. We discussed the fine line we walk between allowing people their privacy and individual choice when not at work, and the responsibility we all have to be well rested and properly prepared to work safely on the job.

Isolated work areas/High Voltage:
Some mines allow work, such as cable change outs, to be done alone. Some require a second person for many jobs. The second person doesn’t necessarily need to be an electrician.

Safety training-specifically for the younger and newer electricians:
We talked about the need for all of us with years of experience to share our backgrounds with the newer people. There is no substitute for years on the job, and communicating our experiences-especially the negative ones, can and should carry a lot of weight with the younger electricians. There are very few of us who have been in the industry for any period of time, who have not been involved in some scary situations. Telling the stories and emphasizing what went wrong should open some young eyes. Mentoring and nurturing our young people in the area of safety is one of the best investments we can make in the future of our industry.

Safety Programs at the individual mine sites:
There are many variations out there. Rio Tinto does what they call “Take 5” risk assessments. There are specific checklists that are filled out prior to engaging in some jobs. This emphasizes the need to look at all possible risks and hazards associated with any particular task. Safety incentive awards are presented to an employee when he/she complete and turn in 40 “Take 5” risk assessment checklists.

Many of North American Coal’s operations, including the Freedom Mine, are using a program called “Safe Start”. The program is centered around 4 primary states that contribute to accidents- Complacency, Rushing, Fatigue, and Frustration. Each of these states can contribute to 4 primary errors-Mind not on task, Eyes not on task, Line of fire, and Balance/traction/grip. Every accident is analyzed and a report is processed using these states and errors as a framework. Personal accountability is emphasized. Every accident is reviewed with every employee at the mine in weekly safety meetings. Our safety statistics have improved substantially in every measured category since the inception of this program 5 years ago.

Overhead Cranes:
We had a short discussion regarding general safety using overhead cranes. Some of the individual items brought up were wireless controls, load cells/load weight displays, and soft starts/soft stops for motions.

New Technology:

Our discussion centered around wireless communication and information systems. These systems are getting more affordable, user-friendly, and practical as each week passes. There are a number of providers and platforms available in the market. Solar panels are becoming widely used for powering wireless bridges and equipment. Falkirk Mine is using wireless data transfer systems on their coal haulage trucks. At this point, each operation has specific needs and conditions of operation for wireless systems. It is a technology that is not “one size fits all”. Look for multiple and rapid advancements in this equipment and technology in the future.

Future meeting topics:

Our group only had time to discuss one topic in this area. Switchgear and electrical apparatus specifications being sent out to engineering and manufacturing firms appear to be quite inconsistent, according to one group participant. It would be helpful to everybody if a standard platform or specification was developed. This may be difficult to accomplish. Every operation in the US is governed by certain MSHA laws and requirements. These standards will be very similar as applied to any mine switchgear and apparatus. There are also custom needs and wants for each operator that are specific to their processes and locations. This topic does appear to have potential for future discussion at a WMEA meeting. Maybe a minimum standard can be established.

Back To Group Discussion List Top of Page

Group 6 Discussion

Group Leader – Kelvin DeHaai


Question brought up if anyone was doing any of the Arc Flash Studies at their facilities.

Was noted that some facilities are doing it on their on and other facilities are hiring consultants.

If you are considering hiring a consultant, one of the first things that they will require from you is an accurate one-line of you facility.

They can then come in and provide you with an Arc Flash analysis, labeling, ect. for your facility.

If you going to do it yourself there are classes available to educate you on what is required.

Was stated that their currently is no date set by MSHA to have Arc Flash implementation in place.

IEEE does not address Arc Flash specifically for mining switchgear.

Don’t take things granted. Even the simplest thing as changing a lamp can “bite” you if you don’t have the circuit de-energized. Someone had a bulb break in their hand while changing out causing an electrical shock.

Mentioned a remote control pendant problem. A supervisor had put the control in his pocket and returned to the office. He apparently sat on the control and activated the crane. In the instance, the only damage was to tool boxes. Crane disconnects have now been clearly marked.


Bussman fuses has a promotion going on from now to the end of September for a trip for two to the NASCAR race series championship in Miami November. Log on to Bussman.com to register.


North American Coal is opening a new mine in Mississippi.

Texas Utilities is opening a new mine in Texas

BLM predicts that 6000 new mining jobs will be created in Campbell County (Gillette, WY) by the year 2010.

Number of “baby boomer” era people are getting to retirement age which will add to the stress of the decreased workforce.

How to recruit and/or keep the skilled labor we have will continue to be a problem.


Maybe Rio Tinto (Aaron Spielman) could give us an update on how their Arc Flash implementation program is going as a follow-up to the presentation he gave a year ago.

Presentation on having some sort of Standard written for Arc Flash for Mining Equipment as an Assembly. Currently the only standards that are written are for individual components.

Boom Stress Monitoring Systems and how information gathered can be properly analyzed without giving the operator another screen to watch in the cab. (WBM out of Denver was brought up.)


Event Details

Start date: 06/06/2007