As experts in mine machine control systems and drill automation technology, FLANDERS is looking forward to sharing our case study regarding the benefits from drill automation at the upcoming International Society of Explosives Engineers (ISEE)’s 43rd Annual Conference. Presenter Eric Gerst will be covering Optimized Drilling Through Automation on Monday, January 30th at 9am EST.
As a sneak preview of the presentation, the following is an excerpt from the white paper presentation topic:
“Soft commodity and coal prices have the mining industry focusing intensely on optimizing all levels of production to reduce operating costs. Part of this trend includes the automation of mining machines. As the first tier of the mining process, blast hole drill automation offers benefits through the entire value stream from drill bench to material processing.
The primary function of drill automation is to control the drilling process and reduce the variabilities introduced by manual operation. Variabilities in drill accuracy, operator proficiency, fuel efficiency, and blast hole quality can affect productivity, fragmentation, and mechanical wear on the drill and ground engaging tools. By automating these parts of the drilling process mining operations can improve overall productivity, reduce drill downtime, lower operating cost, and improve blasting results.”
Presenter Eric Gerst, FLANDERS’ Global Business Development Specialist in Automation, is based out of our corporate office in Evansville, IN. Gerst has spent most of his career in the drilling and blasting sector working sixteen years as Senior Technical Representative for The Ensign-Bickford Company and six years at Dyno Nobel after their acquisition of EBCo. in 2004. His work in the explosives industry included sales and technical support for customers in small diameter construction and utility blasting, underground hard rock, open pit metal, surface crushed stone, and surface coal. He was actively involved in the introduction of electronic detonator technology both at EBCo. and Dyno Nobel. Gerst holds US and Canadian patents for a linear explosive product used in de-slagging coal fired power plant boilers.
ISEE’s 43rd Annual Conference on Explosives & Blasting Technique will take place in Orlando, FL at the Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel and Convention Center January 29 – February 1.
FLANDERS will be exhibiting, showcasing FREEDOM for Drills, ARDVARC technology demonstrations in booth # 510.
FLANDERS announced several newly developed products, including expanding the FREEDOM platform and the introduction of a new software platform, INVISION. FLANDERS, a privately-owned and operated partner to the mining industry, continues to draw upon nearly 70 years of experience in serving, and most recently, automating mining operations.
FLANDERS’ Chief Operating Officer, Allen Patterson shared, “These solutions are considered to be some of the most innovative breakthroughs yet.”
FREEDOM is a flexible open-architecture platform that brings new life to existing equipment by replacing proprietary original equipment manufacturer (OEM) control components. This upgrade enables the use of commercially available off-the-shelf products, improves machine monitoring and expedites troubleshooting through a common and intuitive graphical interface. The FREEDOM platform has been developed for draglines, drills, haul trucks, shovels and underground coal transporters, resulting in higher production and lower maintenance.
“By listening intently to our customers, this established platform allows FLANDERS to continually develop and deliver innovative solutions addressing their ever-evolving needs.” Patterson noted.
The unexpected failure of a machine can create disruption, further damage to a machine and loss of production. FLANDERS’ INVISION is an inspection based predictive and preventative maintenance solution. INVISION provides intuitive insight into a machine’s health by using complex algorithms to define the remaining life of components, limit downtime, control costs and minimize safety and environmental risks, while achieving maximum productivity. By utilizing the INVISION software platform, analyzed data becomes actionable data, and is visible to all levels of an organization as displayed through a color-coded visual health presentation. Same day results allow maintenance personnel to quickly prioritize and schedule maintenance activities.
MINExpo INTERNATIONAL 2016
Test drive the best mining control systems the industry has to offer at FLANDERS’ MINExpo booth # 25215 in the South Hall, and learn more about how FLANDERS’ innovations can help transform your mining operations, decrease your total cost of ownership and improve your return on investment.
After a decade of continual learning and progress in developing autonomy within the mining industry through ARDVARC, FLANDERS is excited to be celebrating 10 years as a leader in the development of advanced drill-rig control systems.
ARDVARC is a premier drill-rig control system offering multiple levels of autonomy for multi-pass, vertical, angle, hammer and rotary drilling applications. By applying ARDVARC technology to an existing OEM drill, customers have seen improvements in safety, productivity, availability, machine life and fragmentation. However, this highly sophisticated technology was just getting its start 10 years ago and we are excited to share the story with you.
History of ARDVARC
In 2006, a large surface mining customer requested repair and troubleshooting of its electric drill motors. It was concluded the shortened motor life was due to the improper control of the motor drive system. FLANDERS proposed a solution to upgrade the drives, resulting in a custom solution providing better overall drill productivity. The upgrade of the drive converted the use of monitoring the RPM (varying levels of drilling speed) to the use of monitoring torque (varying levels of drilling pressure). This upgrade ultimately became a primary feature of FLANDERS’ current ARDVARC One-Touch drill system. This collaboration resulted in 20% increase in productivity for the mining customer.
Based upon the increase in productivity, the following year FLANDERS was engaged to develop autonomous technology for all of the mining company’s drills. Using the ARDVARC One-Touch, the operator simply positioned the machine over the desired drilling target, and with a touch of a button, the machine completed the remainder of the drilling process: leveling the machine, collaring the hole, drilling to desired elevation, retracting the drill string and resetting the jacks in preparation for the next propel cycle. The One-Touch drill control system provided status of the machine, allowing the machine operator to simultaneously evaluate drill functionality and drilling elevation. As a result, the first iteration of the autonomous effort was the completion of the ARDVARC One-Touch drill control system.
In addition to converting the drills from manual operation to a One-Touch drill system, FLANDERS also provided high precision GPS for the operator by integrating the drill’s existing GPS system into a guidance screen for the HMI (Human Machine Interface). When FLANDERS added full data collection and data transport features, it allowed for designed hole pattern information to be wirelessly sent to the drill, eliminating the need for the operator to manually survey each drill location. This provided operator assistance through live onscreen feedback of current location versus the desired location, increasing the positional accuracy. The data collected through the ARDVARC One-Touch system allowed the customer to compare and realize a 22% increase in productivity, compared to manual drilling. By the end of 2008, over a dozen ARDVARC equipped drills were in production in the U.S. and Indonesia.
While the One-Touch drill system functionality was a great first step toward full autonomy, the same customer envisioned this fully autonomous drill as a part of a fully autonomous mine. FLANDERS has always been driven by the need to develop better products and techniques and was up for the challenge.
By 2010, FLANDERS engineers had produced their first fully autonomous drilling solution which provided accurate and precise autonomous positioning on the designed blast hole and safety monitoring of the surrounding area for obstacles and hazards using the FLANDERS HazCam 3D imaging system. This breakthrough in automation resulted in up to 30% productivity gain over manual drilling.
By the end of 2013, FLANDERS had deployed seven ARDVARC systems in Australia, two fully autonomous ARDVARCs with special mobile command centers in the U.S. and fully autonomous ARDVARC drills in South Africa and Brazil. Today over 65 ARDVARC installations have been completed with operation in six countries.
FLANDERS COO, Allen Patterson notes, “Our approach to doing business is captured with our tagline, ‘Listen. Innovate. Serve.’ Solving customer problems has driven us since the beginning. Our employees are our greatest asset because we’re all of the same mindset – which is to serve and solve problems for our customers.”
Future of ARDVARC
The future of ARDVARC will be just as innovative and exciting as the past, if not more. FLANDERS’ long term goal is to completely integrate ARDVARC into a completely autonomous mining operation, in addition to removing the operator from the command center.