A large surface mine in the US had a significant area unsafe for human access, and mining operations were limited. Clean-up efforts were implemented, and it became apparent that drilling and blasting procedures would be necessary to return the site to normal operations. An unmanned drill rig would be required to resolve the issue safely.
FLANDERS was called in to use its ARDVARC® drilling technology onsite.
ARDVARC® (Advanced Rotary Drill Vector Automated Radio Control) drills are self-propelled and guided by a human only to identify the hole location and properties.
ARDVARC® is told how and where to drill, and it self-propels, aligns, and completes a hole without further human intervention, then moves autonomously (self-guided) to the next hole and sequence of operations.
For this situation, the target equipment was an Atlas Copco DML drill already located at the mine.
FLANDERS immediately assembled a quick response team (QRT) of leaders in several critical disciplines, including electrical, hydraulic, mechanical, communications, field service, and fabrication.
The QRT constructed a mobile command centre, customised to fit on a pick-up truck, with a custom operator console in the front passenger space and operated from the rear seat position, with room for an observer/trainee.
Another essential part was devising an ARDVARC® specific radio and GPS solution, as the clean-up effort’s communications could not disturb the mine’s native radio data system.
Remotely controlled bulldozers and excavators were implemented to prepare the surface, and ARDVARC® safely and precisely located and drilled even the most inaccessible locations.
Overall, the FLANDERS solution, from initiation of installation to fully autonomous operation, was implemented and commissioned in only four weeks.
The customer immediately ordered a second unit for a Sandvik D90 drill.
The second unit also had its command truck configured to work non-competitively close to the first.
The two units quickly repaired the mine structure, and a decision was made to return to man-on-board drilling operations.
However, the mine managers soon noticed a significant decrease in the production of quality holes — approximately 50%, or 1-for-2, compared to using the FLANDERS units.
As a result, the customer soon returned to using the two ARDVARC® units.
(Atlas Copco DML and Sandvik D90 have registered trademarks of their respective companies and are not the property of FLANDERS.)