Africa|Automation|Business|Components|Design|Environment|generation|Health|Mining|Proximity|Safety|Sandvik|Sandvik Mining|Sensors|Storage|Surface|System|Technology|Underground|Equipment|Solutions|Drilling
Africa|Automation|Business|Components|Design|Environment|generation|Health|Mining|Proximity|Safety|Sandvik|Sandvik Mining|Sensors|Storage|Surface|System|Technology|Underground|Equipment|Solutions|Drilling

Surface drills with automation functionality

An operator controls rigs at a remote operator station

An operator controls rigs at a remote operator station

20th March 2024


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Mine automation is being extended for use on surface drill rigs, helping to improve safety and productivity.   

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ AutoMine functionality is available for its i-Series models in the company’s intelligent range of down-the-hole top hammer and rotary blast hole drill rigs.

“Sandvik AutoMine system essentially replicates the machine control system to enable remote automation over the mine’s Wi-Fi network,” says Sandvik Southern Africa business line manager: automation and digitisation Kabelo Nkoana. “There is an awareness that safety could be compromised when rigs are operating close to a highwall, or when there are unstable geological conditions on the bench. Automating a drill rig in these conditions is an important contributor to safety.”

The i-Series machines include features such as the onboard data collection unit technology for engine operation and other major components. Various operational and machine health data from the sensors are collected in the Knowledge Box and transmitted to cloud storage for analysis and real-time reporting to support informed and accurate decision making. This creates the foundation for the automation process, which also enhances reliability and performance.

Nkoana explains that the machines’ extensive sensing capability enables it to pick up valuable data about its working environment and allows it to operate autonomously within its design limits.

“This means that it will respond quickly to changes in its drilling conditions – in the properties of the rock it is drilling, for instance,” he says. “By not exceeding its limitations, its operating behaviour will extend the life of consumables and components, generally leading to a lower total operational cost.”

The company is also incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into its next generation AutoMine system solutions, with the launch of its concept loader and underground drill. The AI system uses perception-sensing technologies to detect obstacles, and can make decisions about its movements when there is a person or other manual equipment in proximity.

Nkoana highlights that mines in southern Africa are gradually moving toward ‘smart mining’ through digital monitoring and control, as well as automation.




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