Engineering & Mining Journal

MAR 2019

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MACHINE AWARENESS 30 E&MJ • MARCH 2019 we have some logic, and get some optimi- zation that prevents those machines from colliding if they are sharing a task or are sharing a part of the mine." Much of the computing is done on- board, so the rig is "not too reliant" on mine communications infrastructure, Pet- tersson said. "Of course, when we need to coordinate several machines then you need to have some sort of communication in between them and that is handled by a central node," he said. "All machines communicate through the central node, where they are, where they are heading, what their speeds are and so on, and the central node decides who gets to go and who gets to stop." The miner decides the rules, such as which machine has priority over the others. "Typically, we take input from an external system, something that gives us the priorities," Pettersson said. "That usually is some sort of production plan- ning system," he said. "We try to optimize the output in the clearest possible way." One way is by managing traffic. TMS can process data coming in from a con- stellation of sources to arrive at rig as- signments that streamline the flow of an entire fleet. "There might be information about one of the loading points being blocked," Pettersson said. "It might be at the dumping station, or the crusher might signal it is full. A number of signals im- pact how we run, what missions we run, where to stop, and so on." The net result, Epiroc reported, is pos- sible production optimization. "Normally you load from the system into a crusher or onto a conveyor," Pettersson said. "Those type processes like to have a steady flow of material," he said. "If we can have this optimized and really focus on that to make sure you discharge the material at a constant pace, that process will be even more effective." TMS could enter the market as "one of our big upgrades," enabling the company to "market it a little bit more widely," Pet- tersson said. Currently, it is being marketed to se- lect clients. It is best suited for a mine running loaders or trucks on repetitive tasks. It is also best suited for a miner willing to partner on a project, adopt the requisite communications infrastructure, and follow the required adoptive process. Pettersson said he expects TMS to de- liver "big benefits" for customers. He said he also expects its release will sync with the other headlines coming out of Stock- holm. "We are stepping up one level from being just a machine and assistance sup- plier to being something a little bit more than that," he said. The goal is to develop solutions on "open architecture with an open interface so we can actually work with machines" and systems developed by other suppli- ers, Pettersson said. "It is part of our strategy in everything that we do that we think that the future mine is a good eco- system of different systems with different organs," Pettersson said. "We are ready to take a leading role by delivering open systems that are easy to be integrated, but also making sure that we can deliver that while looking at the overall process." Reducing Exposure to Danger An automation package for Sandvik DD422i and DD422iE drill rigs will be released as an upgrade as early as H2 2019, the company reported. The pack- age will be available for both new and al- ready deployed drills. The package offers three capabilities: boom collision avoidance, semiautomat- ed drill bit changeouts, and teleremote drilling controls. Each can be adopted separately. The offering is "all about enhancing the reliability of drilling automation and improving both safety and ergonomics for the operators," Johannes Välivaara, prod- uct manager, underground development drills, Sandvik, said. The package was developed to satisfy a handful of needs. The long-term trend for both miners and contractors is to pur- sue "ways to keep their assets running re- liably, independently and continuously," Välivaara said. The idea, he said, is to grow productivity by keeping equipment in operation where possible during shift changes, blasting and ventilation times. "On the other hand, the deeper mines are seeing more geotechnical challeng- es," Välivaara said. "So, to improve the safety of their workforce, the mining in- dustry is constantly looking for ways to reduce operator exposure to these condi- tions where possible." The capabilities were engineered "to work around these challenges and other known bottlenecks within underground development drilling," Välivaara said. The package is the result of the evolu - tion of a number of predecessor solutions featuring varying degrees of automation. The major developmental hurdle was to define the algorithms that would guide the boom movements within the collision avoidance system, Välivaara said. "Sever- al inventions were discovered during the development work, prompting one doctor- al thesis that was successfully finalized during the project." Another hurdle was building an on- board system powerful enough to field the required computing and processing Fleet coordination in TMS is handled by a central node that uses data from an array of sources, a mine planning system, and a mine traffic control system. At the Epiroc Control Tower in Sweden, customers can explore and develop effective automation and information management solutions. (Image: Epiroc)

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