SANDVIK has a display piece of machinery at MineX that is a form of automation.
The DD422i development drill still requires a human operator to get into the mine but once it’s in position and has its required tasks and design installed, it has the ability to be independent.
In other words, it can function on its own during shift changeovers, therefore giving the mining company an extra five hours a day that would be productive.
Sandvik business line manager Malcolm Campbell transported the 26 tonne machine to Mount Isa’s mining expo from Perth.
His sales pitch was that the development drill improved the quality of the excavation while reducing overbreak.
“That’s the additional rock loaded and pulled away that contractors don’t get paid for,” Mr Campbell explained.
Instead of the operator determining the holes by eyesight, the development drill was able to decide it from its program. This reduced risk of damage to the rock. It also meant the operator did not need to go near the rock face to mark and determine where to drill next.
“It knows where to drill next,” Mr Campbell said. And it removed human error where a larger excavation risked diluting the ore – which ends up costing the mining company through the later processes.
Mount Isa based Sandvik customer service manager Matt Cain said the development drill’s independence meant that it could work during a shift change.
Theoretically, if it took an hour to drive to the crib room and another to return, and this happened twice daily, then there was about five hours in lost time against the company.
“You still need an operator to come in and hook it up. You need to connect it to power and water,” he said.
“It won’t replace an operator. It makes their job easier.”
During the last MineX two years ago this technology existed. It was being field tested and available with tunneling but it had not been available for use in the mining industry at that time, Mr Campbell said.
Since then there had been five sold in Australia with numerous others across the world.