Why drill automation is important – and how FLANDERS can help

Customer Problem

Surface drilling above existing underground workings can be dangerous – if the underground stopes were to collapse beneath the weight of the drill, the operator could be injured.


We’re experts in drill automation; we’ve been doing it for years since 2005.

That’s when we carried out our first autonomous blast hole drill.

Such a safety consideration was paramount at Newmont Mining Corporation’s Phoenix gold and copper mine when they contacted FLANDERS.

Our Solution

FLANDERS’ goal was to remove the operator from the drill cab while maintaining the ability to drill on top of the underground stopes.

The solution was for FLANDERS to install our ARDVARC® drill control system on an Atlas Copco Pit Viper 271 drill which successfully eliminated the hazard.

The system enabled the operator to relocate to the administration building and remotely monitor the autonomous operation of the drill from a safe location.

When the drill is on top of the underground workings, it operates autonomously in a “proving” probing or void detection mode where the system detects the beginning and the end of a void.

This information, mainly the depth and the size of the void, is displayed in real-time to the command centre operator, who can then determine if it is safe to continue to the following hole location in the pattern.

This detection, and all other drill activity, including the changing of the drill steel, is continuously monitored in real-time by the operator located safely in the drill command centre at the administration building.

The benefits of working with us

“This was yet another example of our innovative approach,” says Mike Lane, General Manager of FLANDERS in Western Australia.

“Our drill automation retrofits can transform a manually operated drill into a remotely operated machine.”

“Not only are there the obvious safety benefits, but our drill systems can increase the productivity of our customers’ operations.

“If you have a drill problem, we have the skills and technology to work with you to solve it.

“Our facilities in Western Australia are regarded as a centre of excellence for autonomous mining systems, and we specialise in developing and implementing solutions for mobile and fixed plants.”