Engineering & Mining Journal

MAR 2019

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MACHINE AWARENESS MARCH 2019 • E&MJ 31 tasks. "The dynamic route calculation algorithms are fairly complex to run and they require quite a bit of power from the system hardware," Välivaara said. "It's all about measuring continuously and on a high-speed frequency the readings from the sensors to determine the current loca- tion of the boom, rock drill and drill bit, and to utilize the data to make higher-lev- el strategic decisions." The boom collision-avoidance system is based on a dynamic route recalculation model that, among other things, predicts potential collisions. It then acts to avoid those collisions by re-routing the boom movement from hole to hole. As a last line of defense, if the booms get too close to each other, the movement will be stopped. "It prevents the drill, when being oper- ated unattended, from shutting down the movements when the boom encounters a possible collision, thereby ensuring that not only is the collision avoided, but also that production is maintained without any interruptions," Välivaara said. "This is par- ticularly important to keep up the produc- tion when the unit is operating unmanned," he said. "During manual boom control, the system also protects the unit from careless operation by first slowing and then stopping boom movements if they get too close to the carrier or another boom." The system leverages the sensors in the boom joints to measure position and calculate the location of the drill bit. "As the location of all of the booms are known, the smart software algorithms can then determine the right positioning strategy when moving them from hole to hole without interrupting each other," Välivaara said. The system manages the boom move- ments automatically, he said. "The sys- tem only needs the desired sequence, meaning in which order the holes will be drilled by the machine." One important result is a net reduction in the amount of manual work in the drill- ing process. The semiautomated drill bit changer can contribute to that reduction. "As well as enhancing productivity, it reduces the risk of personnel exposure to weak ground conditions, such as at the face itself, and also the need to get in and out of the operator cab, which is one of the main causes for various ankle and knee injuries within the underground mining industry," Välivaara said. The system allows the task to be ex- ecuted in a safe location. "It consists of racks of drill bits, six or nine standard bits plus a reaming bit, for both booms," Välivaara said. "The principle is simply to remove the old bit and then retrieve a new one," he said. "The system positions the boom automatically next to the rack from where the operator can then manually re- lease the worn bit and retrieve a new one." The system uses the same sensors as those leveraged by the boom colli- sion-avoidance system, meaning it re- quires no hardware in addition to what is already built into the drills. The main benefit provided is increased operator safety, Välivaara said. "Not hav- ing to get out from the cabin to the front of the drill is a great improvement from both safety and ergonomics point of view." Safety is also one of the main benefits offered by the teleremote-control capabil- ity, which Välivaara described as the "key part" of the package. It "includes a drill- ing control panel that enables the drill to be operated remotely, for example, from the surface of the mine," he said. "This allows the operator to help the unit drill more holes during shift change, blasting and ventilations times, while reducing the risk of equipment damage." Onboard componentry consists of cam- eras, a safety-rated laser, scanners for area isolation, wireless antenna, and a control logic. Off-board components include the remote-control station, viewing screen for cameras located on the unit, and some aux- iliary controls for both lights and cameras. Adoption requires a Wi-Fi network with a minimum of 10 megabits-per-second bandwidth in the mine, Välivaara said. "The package is light and compact, allowing the control station to be easily moved from one place to another," he said. The system allows remote supervision of the drilling automation, and, where needed, operator assistance in drilling holes in challenging locations. "Also, the drill bit change can be done by remote by utilizing the teleremote drilling controls combined with the semiautomatic drill bit changer," Välivaara said. The ideal customer for the package is a miner with robust experience operating underground development drills that is interested in systematic automation, he said. Nonetheless, "anyone interested in reducing operator exposure to the head- ings, and particularly in the front area of the drill, would be able to see the ben - efits of what this package can deliver," Välivaara said. The package is the first of its kind with- in the industry, he said. "Sandvik is really setting the new standard," Välivaara said. "The digitalization strategy for Sandvik Min- ing and Rock Technology is based on three cornerstones: autonomous equipment, con- nected fleet and data-driven productivity," he said. "The automation upgrade package will strongly enhance our offering in the area of autonomous equipment." Above, an automation package will be offered later this year as an upgrade on two Sandvik development drills that will offer a boom collision-avoidance capability. (Photo: Sandvik)

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