ARDVARC automated drill system improves penetration rates by up to 27 per cent.

Mine operators can improve drilling penetration rates by up to 27 percent when drill rigs use the FLANDERS ARDVARC [One Touch] automation system.

The report’s findings looked at the effectiveness of using ARDVARC [One Touch] at two hard rock mines and compared the penetration rates achieved to those when the drills were manually operated.

Using ARDVARC, mine operators can convert a manually operated drilling cycle to an automated drilling cycle with ‘one-touch’ of a button by monitoring the drill signals to ensure the equipment operates at a safe maximum potential.

The penetration rate is the speed at which a drill breaks through the rock and is a key variable contributing to drilling costs.

“The penetration rate is an important metric for measuring the performance of a drill because it gives a good indication of how the drill is going in those ground conditions,” says Joshua Goodwin, Director of the Autonomous Center of Excellence.

“And that’s how the drill can make the most productivity gains.

“The higher the penetration rate, the more productivity you’ll get — because you’ll be able to drill holes quicker, and you’ll get more holes.”

The report found that mine operators at both sites considerably improved drill penetration rates when they used the ARDVARC automated system compared to manually operated rigs.

Mine Site 1 — penetration rates increase up to 27%

Overall, there was an 8 percent increase in productivity at Mine Site 1 when the ARDVARC system was used with its Pit Viper 271 drill rig fleet.

Six of the eight machines improved their productivity when using the automated system compared to manual operations.

The best result saw one PV271 drill increase its penetration rate from 2.36 feet per minute (Ft/Min) to 3.02 Ft/Min — a 27.96 percent increase in productivity.

When the ARDVARC [One Touch] automated system was used on a Bucyrus Erie 49RII drill rig at Mine Site 1, there was also a significant increase in the penetration rate.

The penetration rate increased from 2.07 Ft/Min to 2.59 Ft/Min — an increase in productivity of 25 percent.

Mine Site 2 — penetration rates of all rigs improved

At Mine Site 2, a hard rock mine, the One Touch system was used with a fleet of four Pit Viper 271 drill rigs.

All four machines improved their penetration rates using the automated ARDVARC drilling system compared to manual drilling.

Overall, there was a 6.7 percent increase in the penetration rate at Mine Site 2 when using One Touch.

Goodwin says such results using the ARDVARC [One Touch] automated system are not uncommon.

He says there are other key benefits of using the ARDVARC system, such as the way it helps less experienced drill operators become 90% as effective as the top drillers at the mine site.

“If you use the ARDVARC system, the operator doesn’t have to know how to drill the hole; all they have to do is press the button, and the system will drill the hole for them,” Goodwin says.

He says ARDVARC can bring new drill operators up to speed and deliver more consistent results rather than possibly spending weeks or months learning the ropes at the mine site.

“It means the newer and less qualified operators can perform much better, much quicker than the ones who have to learn how to drill themselves rather than utilizing the simplicity of ARDVARC,” he says.

“ARDVARC [One Touch] will potentially help them get even better than they would ever get otherwise.”

The system also improves machine leveling tolerances, usually taking less than 40 seconds.

“With the ARDVARC system, we level the machine to 0.2 degrees,” says Goodwin.

“That will ensure the hole is drilled on an exact vertical because the machine will be level, and you’ll get those directly vertical holes which help the blasting process.”