The GICHD Tool for Management of Mechanical Demining Operations

by Pehr Lodhammar [ Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining ] and Erik de Brun [ Ripple Design ] - view pdf

In response to a need for an operational management tool for the mechanical demining community, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining developed a system called the Management Tool for Mechanical Demining Operations. This system increases the efficiency of mine-clearance operations by using a database that organizes and creates data reports. GICHD is working to improve the system including the addition of a GPS tool in 2012.

Examining UXO found during a BAC task. The item was hard to spot and is likely to have been missed by a previous search. All photos courtesy of the author.Figure 1. Demining Management Tool: Main Menu.
All photos courtesy of the author.

Mechanical demining systems can greatly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of mine-clearance operations. In the past, only some commercial companies and very few noncommercial organizations used machines regularly, but today most make use of them in at least some capacity. Also, in recent years, the number of machine manufacturers has steadily grown, and many different types of machines and systems exist.

The Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining has researched and studied machine-deployment practices and the cost-effectiveness of various mechanical demining systems. GICHD found that the success of operational mechanical demining programs depends on several key elements:

Examining UXO found during a BAC task. The item was hard to spot and is likely to have been missed by a previous search. All photos courtesy of the author.Figure 2. Demining Management Tool: Admin Data Entry.

The research also revealed some unmet needs in mechanical demining:

Examining UXO found during a BAC task. The item was hard to spot and is likely to have been missed by a previous search. All photos courtesy of the author.Figure3. Demining Management Tool: Mechanical Asset Entry.

Using funds provided by the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden, GICHD worked to address these needs by developing a software tool designed to aid in the operational management of mechanical demining in 2011. The Management Tool for Mechanical Demining Operations helps minimize vehicle downtime and maximize output during mechanical demining operations. This process is done by enabling the collection and review of machine-specific operational and nonoperational data.

The GICHD Web page and GICHD training interventions made the tool accessible to the mine-action community. Based on positive operator feedback and requests from the users of the mechanical demining systems, the initial, mechanical, demining-centric tool was expanded to support the management of animal detection and manual-demining operations and is known as the Management Tool for Demining Operations.

Description

The Management Tool for Demining Operations is a simple, macro-enabled, Microsoft Excel© database. This tool tracks the performance and downtime of mechanical, manual and animal detection demining assets. It was developed primarily for field/site management and is intended to:

Examining UXO found during a BAC task. The item was hard to spot and is likely to have been missed by a previous search. All photos courtesy of the author.Figure 4. Demining Management Tool: Mechanical Daily Data Entry.

The database collects operational data (i.e., performance) and nonoperational data (i.e., downtime) for each working asset every work day. The data is then compiled into a series of summary reports, which can be viewed, printed or saved as PDF documents.

The user interface is designed to be intuitive for operators; it has a simple format that contains clearly-labeled data-entry fields. The main menu provides a starting point, and the tool is divided into three main sections:

Using the Tool

When the tool is first used as part of a new task, the user must enter organizational and asset-specific information in the setup areas. The user only needs to enter the information once, and it can be saved and used as a baseline for subsequent tasks. Task and organizational information is entered first, followed by asset information. For machines, users need to input:

For manual-demining teams, users enter the team name, supervisor and a team-capacity estimate. For each animal asset, the animal name, handler ID and a capacity estimate are required. Assets can be added, modified or deleted at any time.

Examining UXO found during a BAC task. The item was hard to spot and is likely to have been missed by a previous search. All photos courtesy of the author.
Figure 5. Demining Management Tool: Example Report, Mechanical Page 1.

Once assets are entered into the database, the daily data entry form (Figure 4) can be used to record operational and nonoperational information for each asset every working day. To begin, data about the site's environmental conditions, e.g., weather, terrain, soil information, is recorded. Under each asset type, individual assets can be selected and specific related information for that working day entered. The following information for each asset is also recorded:

Examining UXO found during a BAC task. The item was hard to spot and is likely to have been missed by a previous search. All photos courtesy of the author.
Figure 6. Demining Management Tool: Example Report, Mechanical Page 2.

Once data entry is complete, operators can access the reporting forms. The demining management tool processes all recorded data and produces a set of reports for each asset group and individual reports for each specific asset. For each asset group, a two-page summary report is generated, which shows tabular and graphical data for all the active individual assets. For any specific asset, a two- to three-page report is prepared, which shows nonoperational details and operational/performance details, alongside environmental conditions (see Figures 5, 6 and 7 for an example of a mechanical asset report). Reports can be viewed within the tool, printed or exported as PDF documents.

Examining UXO found during a BAC task. The item was hard to spot and is likely to have been missed by a previous search. All photos courtesy of the author.
Figure 7. Demining Management Tool: Example Report, Mechanical Page 3.

In 2012, the tool will be improved to include a GPS tracking and visualization function, as well as other features to allow operators to view the mechanical demining unit production graphically. A small GPS tracking device will be fitted to the demining machine, and after each working session, the data collected during clearance will transfer to the management tool. To review the GPS data, the operator needs only to select appropriate dates, and the software will display a map of the area with all path data displayed as an overlay. The GPS tracking report will be viewable and printable.

Conclusion

Based on needs identified during studies of mechanical demining operations in the field, GICHD developed the Management Tool for Mechanical Demining Operations, software enabling mechanical demining operators to collect performance and downtime data and generate useful reports. The initial tool, released in mid-2011, is already used in more than 40 field projects. Based on feedback from operators, the tool was expanded to include manual demining and animal detection, and will continue to help enhance the productivity and cost-effectiveness of de-mining operations.

The tools and companion user manuals can be downloaded from the GICHD Web page and are regularly distributed to operators during GICHD training outreach activities.1 GICHD welcomes feedback from users, which should be sent to Pehr.Lodhammar@gichd.org.

Biographies

Pehr LodhammarPehr Lodhammar is the Mechanical Advisor with the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining and joined GICHD in February 2008. He works with mechanical mine-clearance projects and training and research regarding contracting, liabilities and insurance in mine action. Before joining GICHD, Lodhammar was a Project Manager at the United Nations Office for Project Services, supporting the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency with procurement, mine-action training and construction of demining machines. Prior to 1999, he was a military Engineering Officer specializing in explosive-ordnance disposal for 10 years.


Erik de BrunErik de Brun is Principal Engineer and Cofounder of Ripple Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (U.S.). He has experience in the design, development, testing and manufacturing of products for commercial, medical, mine-action and defense applications. Prior to founding Ripple Design, de Brun designed armored vehicles with BAE Systems and V-22 Osprey flight-control software with Boeing Rotorcraft. He holds a Master of Science in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Science in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University.


Contact Information

Pehr Lodhammar
Mechanical Advisor
Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining
7bis, avenue de la Paix
P.O. Box 1300
1211 Geneva 1 / Switzerland
Tel: +0041 (0)22 906 8341
Email: p.lodhammar@gichd.org
Website: http://www.gichd.org

Erik de Brun
Principal Engineer and Cofounder
Ripple Design
444 North 4th St. Unit 102
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Tel: +001 267 872 5768
Skype: ripple_erik.debrun
Email: erik.debrun@rippledesign.com
Website: http://rippledesign.com

 

Endnotes

  1. Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. http://www.gichd.org/main-menu/operations/mechanical-demining/management-tool/. Accessed 19 April 2012.

 

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