Barhale uses AI to improve excavator safety

A man in an excavator with an orange high-vis jacket. The excavator has a shield outside with a LED thumbs up.
The digital thumbs-up replicates the well-known thumbs-up procedure used in construction (Image: BCS Group)

Construction group Barhale is using artificial intelligence (AI) on its excavators to reduce health and safety risks.

Subsidiary BCS has installed human form recognition cameras and a ‘digital thumbs up system’ on six of its new excavators and ten diggers.

The machines use AI and other technologies developed by tech firm Safety Shield Global to identify when a person has stepped into an unsafe area around them.

The tech then produces an audible alert to the person in the unsafe zone and also to the driver.

Barhale said that the system has the capacity to report incidents by type and frequency. This data can be used to help improve safety behaviours on site.

Giving a (digital) thumbs up to safety

The ‘digital thumbs-up’ system combines visual and audible signals to let machine operators advise other people when it is safe to approach them.

It replicates the established thumbs-up procedure well-known in construction using LED and sonic indicators.

A green thumbs up light in a ‘digital shield’ when it is safe to approach a machine on site (Image: BCS Group)

When an operator sees a thumbs-up signal from someone wanting to approach them, they will bring the machine to a controlled stop. They will then press the in-cab ‘thumbs up’ button to isolate the machine’s controls, which effectively disables it.

A ‘digital shield’ positioned outside the excavator or digger will then display a thumbs-up, which means it is safe to approach the machine along the recognised corridor in line with the thumbs-up procedure.

Dave Lally, operations director at Barhale, said: “We believe this AI technology will benefit sites and personnel by ensuring the people/plant interface is managed in the safest possible way.

“The system will also give us insight into people’s behaviours, opening the door for further improvements in site safety and process. Adopting this kit on both new and existing machinery puts BCS right at the forefront of plant safety and will give our clients the additional peace of mind of knowing we are taking wellbeing to the next level.”

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