Renewed focus

Black Moth’s unique mobile vision and communication solution is helping improve efficiency and safety for Australia’s road maintenance and asset management sectors.The advent of concepts such as the Internet of Things and cloud computing have given rise to new and interesting ways of using and optimising data in a range of industry sectors. Black Moth is one such technology provider embracing smart information concepts to help improve safety and efficiency practices, predominately for road transport and heavy machinery.

The company specialises in mobile vision and communication solutions with its flagship atlasMX-720 and atlasMX-900 smart vision platforms. These systems include the company’s smartMX-180 high dynamic range smart cameras, which deliver high-quality streamed imagery for monitoring operations.

Cameras are installed on each side of a vehicle, with the inclusion of a fifth special purpose camera that can be mounted anywhere else, and they work in conjunction with Black Moth’s view MT-101 display and tigerMX-5 server.

The Black Moth system offers users myriad possibilities due to its connectivity. The streamed and recorded footagen as well as GPS location, snapshot images and IMU data, can all be used to add value to a company’s existing systems and for a variety of purposes.

The system simultaneously enhances safety and reduces costs by providing the driver with a real-time and top view of the vehicle’s surroundings, reducing the risk of an accident.

Tony Clear, Black Moth Sales Director, says the technology was originally designed as a platform with large capacity to extend to a wide array of applications. One of its early adoptions was for claim mitigation should an accident occur, however the ability of the system to be integrated with a client’s own processes and suit their own requirements means it has evolved into different industries and applications.

“The system has evolved significantly in past months as we build further on the service we provide. We’ve built a platform with a large capability to expand into areas where our customers need it to expand,” explains Mr. Clear. “One of the main attractions of the Black Moth company is our ability to make modifications and customise to suit customers and their particular environments.”

Black Moth first used its unique system to develop a solution for waste management service provider JJ Richards & Sons, which wanted to improve its efficiency and mitigate dangers around its vehicles during operation.

Mr. Clear says a key asset to the technology has been customising it to suit the client, rather than selling it as a package. JJ Richards and Sons, for instance, worked closely with the technology provider to develop a solution that worked for its specific requirements, which focused on hazard protection and data optimisation for its heavy vehicles, integrating seamlessly with their own purpose designed waste management solution.

The capabilities of the technology have allowed Black Moth to explore the relevance of its system in different industry sectors, which Mr. Clear says has been driven by clients finding unique ways to use the system. “As an example, we’re now dealing with many of the major players in the road maintenance industry around Australia”.

Insurance claim mitigation was one of the early applications for the technology, with video recordings from the system being used as evidence should an incident occur with a clients’ vehicle. That application has expanded into other tasks including, monitoring, documentation and compliance in the road inspection, management and maintenance fields.

“You need to prove an accident occurred or didn’t occur, as well as whether a bin was or wasn’t collected. Sometimes you need to prove that a job was done within a certain amount of time,” he says, “Those sorts of thing are happening with the technology and it’s a real benefit for a vast variety of industries, including for road contractors and asset managers.”

The Black Moth system is complete with GPS tracking that loads the positions of a company’s fleet into its own fleet system, or Black Moth’s Universe application, in real time.

“It means teams working for councils or other contractors who are using this system for compliance can document what they’ve been doing, including when and where.

“A customer can use the GPS-tracking capability to see and track where their vehicles have been. If you lose reception and come back into range, the GPS returns with the past track – you never lose tracking of the vehicle.”

If a street sweeper is integrated with Black Moth’s smart vision platforms, for instance, Mr. Clear says the cameras can record and document when the brushes were engaged.

“We can tell whether the brushes were up or down and we’re able to see whether GPS is active or not,” he says. Likewise, the platform can be used on waste collection trucks to show when a bin has been picked up by the vehicle’s lift arm.

Mr. Clear says the system has also found relevance within the asset management space, specifically in road defect inspections.

“An inspector could drive their vehicle along a road network or pipeline path and use the external cameras to record it,” he says. “You could take a regular maintenance shot of a road defect or pipeline joint, for instance, without having to stop the vehicle.”

The system instantly sends the images and location data to the client’s office via a cellular network, meaning the information on the fault can be utilised or classified immediately.

A key aspect of the system’s relevance for this kind of application is its recent addition of a continuous snapshot function.

If an operator is driving along a road, they can take an immediate snapshot of the vehicle’s surroundings through the camera by pressing a button on the driver’s in-cab display. “However, we’ve found customers go to hit the screen and find they miss the exact spot they wanted to record,” says Mr. Clear.

Black Moth developed a solution where the operator can push the button to take a snapshot but it will take pictures at user defined distances before and after the section of the road they want to capture.

“The system therefore records 360 degree images around the point of interest at the required measurement increments, irrespective of speed,” says Mr. Clear.

An inspector tasked with picking up road faults such as road defects, street furniture, signage issues, lighting issues, would hit the button as he approaches the point of interest. Images would be recorded before and after, at speed, without the operator needing to leave the vehicle.

While Mr. Clear says the advances in Black Moth’s systems have enabled the company to explore different markets and applications for its technology, the company still has plenty more developments on the horizon.

“For example, we’re currently talking with companies about when they’re doing paving jobs, using asphalt or concrete pavers and other large machinery.”

He says pavement crews already have safety systems in place, but the Black Moth platform can build on that safety and help monitor operator behaviour. “Companies are keen for the technology for the fact they can review driver behavior when there’s an incident or for random auditing,” he says. The footage can also be used to review the construction phase if a ‘bump’ is detected at the final testing stage.

“We’re also not far out from introducing object detection and we’ll link that to alarm mechanisms,” he adds. “If you can alert a driver it’s one thing, but if you can warn the actual person in danger around the machine, that’s something else.”

Mr. Clear says Black Moth’s platform provides an expandable solution with comprehensive and customised service rather than a set product.

“We monitor the diagnostics of each vehicle out there. We can tell if one of the components has a fault before you see it,” he says, adding that this active service to let the client know something is wrong and help them correct it is second to none.

“If you don’t have that kind of connectivity with vision and tracking systems such as this, you’re missing out on 90 per cent of the benefits.”

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