People plant interface with FTC Group.

In this issue we have looked at various aspects of keeping machinery safe on site. In this feature we look at Midlands based FTC Group and how they can keep your operatives safe when working alongside your machines.

FTC Group run a small but highly qualified team and pride themselves on their specialist knowledge of the industry. Originally set up to provide safety systems for forklift trucks, the company has expanded its portfolio to offer a range of safety systems designed for construction equipment and to increase the safety of operatives working alongside them.

In an ideal world operatives and machines would be kept apart at all times. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and despite health and safety professionals decreeing that keeping men and machines apart at all times is achievable, it certainly isn’t. Keeping plant and personnel apart is key to preventing injury but as this is sometimes impossible, this is an area FTC Group are putting their efforts into making as safe as possible.

Manufacturers have been fitting rear, side and 360 camera systems for a number of years to great success but whilst the cameras provide a great view around the machine, it is still down to the operator to look at the screen to see who or what is coming close. Aftermarket suppliers have also been supplying their own camera and rangefinder systems along with travel alarms and illuminated exclusion zones, also to great success. FTC’s system combines the technology from a rangefinder system with in-house developed software.

FTC’s Pedestrian Detection Camera is, as its name suggests, not just a rangefinder but one linked to sophisticated programmed algorithm software able to distinguish not only between animate and inanimate objects, but between people and things. And since it can tell people from objects, unlike some other systems it is uniquely positioned within the construction sector. Another benefit to the FTC system is that it does not require people working on the ground to wear tags in order to be detected and avoided.

At the heart of the FTC system is a complex algorithm feeding off the data sent to it from cameras mounted around the machine. Manufactured with a 140-degree field of vision, the installation of three or four of the cameras around a suitably shaped body can give a full 360-degree view.

FTC Business Development Manager, Sean Hamill explained: “In essence this system offers customers a completely modular safety system that is easy to manage and extremely effective, tracking pedestrians in real time with a full HD screen and any configuration of alerts required.”

Watching out for and recognising people around the machine is one thing, warning the machine’s operator that there is someone in their space, is another. The system has a detection zone of up to 30 metres. This zone can be divided into programmable green, amber and red areas, whereby pedestrians are tracked in-cab on an HD screen with each of them marked in red, amber or green dependant on their distance from each camera. As the system is modular and bespoke, FTC say it can be fitted t any make or model of equipment.

“This system is non-invasive, which means fitting can be done on any vehicle with ease.” Sean explains “Customers are always pleasantly surprised with the speed the system can be installed reducing their downtime to a minimum. We are also questioned about the suitability of our systems and the ability to integrate with other safety and camera systems already installed on a machine. We can happily say there have never been any issues thus far. The system is also extremely intuitive and easy to use, meaning operator training and inclusion into site or company H&S policy is made that much easier. We at FTC Group also offer consultative training and advice where needed to help with this.”

The Pedestrian Detection Camera system can be configured in a multitude of ways, some of which include having one rear view camera with in-cab HD screen and alert. At the opposite end of the range, options include four cameras giving a 360-degree field of vision, in-cab HD display alert, external beacons and multiple configurations of lights, MDVR recording capability and full online access.

“The product has been extremely well received.” said Sean “We have seen orders increasing exponentially from end users ordering directly, to large plant hire companies and even dealer networks all quickly realising that this technology is almost a must-have in one form or another.”

Sean said: “FTC Group is a market leader in the FLT sector, we are preferred suppliers to many dealer networks and even manufacturers, our product range has always kept pace with technology, demand and needs of the industry. Over the last 24 months, we have seen steady growth in the construction and plant market, but with the recent development of this particular product and natural progression into this market, we have seen sales and demand soar. FTC Group is a respected brand that the FLT industry has come to trust over the years and the construction and plant sectors are quickly following suit.”

Used in conjunction with FTC’s OptaFleet fleet management software, the system can identify areas of heightened risk on site as well as operators who may need further safety awareness training.

It’s no great insight to say that automation and use of technology are the future in many fields, providing greater efficiency, accuracy and freeing up labour for the work that only humans can do. In the field of heavy machinery that FTC’s Pedestrian Detection System addresses, it’s a matter of saving lives.

HS2 has already determined that a pedestrian detection system that is managed by contractors themselves will need to be in evidence on machinery in order to gain access to its sites, and that is now the direction of travel across the industry as a whole. What FTC Group is supplying is a solution that is tailored to particular operational requirements and can be easily overseen on site.

One of the leading lights in the UK plant hire industry is Plantforce. The South West based hire company have installed a full Pedestrian Detection Camera system to a new Kobelco SK210LC destined for work on their phase of the HS2 project. Fitted with four pedestrian detection cameras, all with 140-degree viewing angle, an in-cab dashboard alert and additional perimeter arc danger zone lighting have been fitted to the excavator by FTC Group providing a full 360-degree field of vision from the operator’s seat.

We hope to bring you a full report on just how the system is working and helping increase safety on the UK’s largest civil engineering project in a future issue.