Making Underground Mining Safer through Industrial Design
“I predict that we will be releasing products that set a new standard for the mining industry,” says Raymond Jepson, an Industrial Designer in R&D at Newtrax when asked about the current and future projects at Newtrax.
In the world of hardware and software for the underground mining industry, usability, reparability, and ruggedness are top concerns for our partners. We sat down with Raymond and asked him about what he does and how he addresses these concerns.
“I always wanted to work in technology. I got my degree from a University on the west coast of the USA with a heavy influence from the tech sector but ended up working in traditional consumer products until now,” said Raymond. “I design new enclosures for our new hardware and troubleshoot design and production problems in our current products. Designing new hardware involves helping define the mechanical requirements of the enclosure, drawing and prototyping concepts, building the product in CAD, finding suppliers and inspecting pre-production samples.”
“How can I make this safer, more pleasant, easier to use, or more reliable.”
The user experience is what first comes to mind when asked what he’s the most passionate about. “The user experience is always my top priority, and it’s even more important in Newtrax products. Every day I ask myself, “How can I make this safer, more pleasant, easier to use, or more reliable.” Because of the difficulty of mining, even the small improvements represent a huge gain for our end users.” he said.
Working toward the best user experience for Raymond means addressing some of the biggest challenges our clients face.
- The need for ruggedness
These technical challenges inspire Jepson. “We want our products to be the lightest, most rugged, easiest to repair and best to use. That means having to be fanatic about every detail.” When asked how we achieve these goals, we learned that the key is the perfect combination of the right conditions. “We invest in bringing the best products to market, from product management to human resources and the product themselves.”
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When we asked Raymond why having good industrial design was so crucial to the industry and miner safety, he had this to say: “Ease of use is critical when it comes to personal safety devices like cap lamps: with so much happening in a mine where full attention is required to work, the last thing we want is for a miner to be distracted by using their cap lamp.”
Not only do the products need good design to function with ease, but Raymond also elaborated on why the choice of material is just as important. “Few environments contain more unpredictable materials than a mine: hydraulic oil, fuel, shotcrete, explosives, cleaner and other solvents are piled up everywhere. Any of these can cause materials to degrade, therefore we need to carefully consider where our products will be used.”
Each role is crucial to the success of a product and how it will perform in its environment. It was easy to see that Raymond is passionate about the challenges of the underground mining industry and plays a big role in its continuous improvement.