At the cutting edge

Jon Lawson

Jon Lawson provides a ‘bit’ of news from the drilling sector, spanning advances in software and hardware as well as new rigs making their debut

Atlas Copco has launched a new piece of automation software for drill rigs.

The design enables the rig to create its own drill plans directly at the material face.

This is made possible by downloading the contours of the mine drift (or tunnel) with a drill rule file, allowing the machine to tailor its own plan specifically for the circumstances it is facing.

So rather than importing the 3D mine model into software such as Underground Manager then manually creating the drill plan, the set of rules and the 3D model are input to the drill rig by USB or WiFi. The rig will then make its own drill plans.

One advantage is that this mitigates problems caused by differences in rock or soil cross-section.

Johan Jonsson, global product manager - Face Drilling Equipment (Boomer-range) tells IME, “This dynamic tunnelling package will greatly simplify and reduce the waiting time in many mine and tunnel projects globally. By also creating the drill plan for the actual section where it’s navigated the quality will be improved at the same time.”

Several trial projects have been used to test the new software, including one with Atlas Copco’s customer Veidekke, which is working on the State highway 80 project in Bodø, Norway, removing about 500,000m3 of rock to create two 2.5km tunnels.

Jon-André Nilsen, manager Surveying Technic Underground for Veidekke comments, “The collaboration with Atlas Copco to develop the dynamic tunnelling package went well. They were responsive to our feedback and made adjustments to the program. Today, the drill rig operators make niches manually. They can turn out way too big or way too small. The dynamic tunnelling package makes our drilling more precise. We can make changes to drill plans directly on the rig. We can move cuts or drill holes. We are more flexible at the tunnel face compared to making all the changes at the office. We use the software to make niches. This makes the work more precise.”

Kent Simensen, drill rig operator, adds, “The dynamic package is very easy to use. It is two keystrokes and you are started. The contour turns out very accurate. The end result is identical to the drawing.”

Following on from the success of the project, Jonsson has an update. “The roll out of the package continues globally now and we have so far received orders from Norway, Finland and Sweden. The big benefit with the new software function is that you now are much more flexible. Instead of doing predefined and fixed drill patterns in the office, you now download the 3D model for the tunnel or mine to the drill rig and the drill rig by itself makes the drill pattern at the location it’s navigated to for the actual section and volume it’s supposed to drill.

“The pilot project in Bodö, Norway is running ahead with good progress and we also have units (a Boomer WE3 and Boomer E2) in operations in the Stockholm bypass projects. This will be a really interesting project with a lot of ramp tunnels and changes in cross-section that will hugely benefit from using our dynamic tunnelling package. This is especially important in projects like this, where the contours change.”

Find the thread

Rockmore International has invented what it claims is a new method of improving performance and service life of extension drill tools in surface and underground percussive drilling applications. Dubbed the Vector Rod System, the XT design features a new thread design incorporating new guided cylindrical contact zones between the male and female joints. These are placed in the nose and rear of the thread connections.

Pejman Eghdami, executive vice president of Rockmore International explains, “We specifically targeted an increase in thread service life while enhancing drilling performance in extension drilling applications… we have considerably improved drilling productivity and increased drill string lifetime by introducing these new design features in the XT thread configuration. And just as important, the new XT design is fully reverse-compatible with industry standard T-style threads, enabling the Vector Rod System to be a practical choice for premium drilling tools.”

The company says it has identified several specific improvements with the new design, which is the product of several years of R&D behind the scenes. With improved thread alignment, impact duration when rattling rods during uncoupling connections is reduced, leading to less wasted energy, cooler couplings and better retention of thread grease.

One direction

Ditch Witch of Oklahoma, USA is expanding its range with the launch of the JT40 horizontal directional drill. The machine features a variety of advances including tracker information that is integrated into the displays, and a real-time carriage-position indicator to facilitate more precision.

Seth Matthesen, Ditch Witch senior product manager, horizontal directional drills says, “The unit integrates machine data into an innovative display to keep operators informed and productive on the job. As with all of our products, we continue to seek customer feedback to improve uptime, profitability and performance, and this machine features several new pending patents to do exactly that.”

Operator comfort has not been neglected, and the JT40 can be ordered with a fully enclosed cab with heating and air conditioning, or be open plan with just anti-vandal panels. Power comes courtesy of a 160 HP, Tier 4 Cummins diesel engine with a two-speed, rotational drive system

MITO you

Fraste, hailing from Nogara in Italy, is launching a new hydraulic rig called the MITO 8. Featuring the Fraste articulation system, the machine is offered with a wide range of accessories available for rotation and roto-percussion drilling.

The new drill expands the Mito range that includes the larger MITO 20, MITO 40, MITO 60 and MITO 40 CS.

Update from Sandvik

Sandvik’s Pantera DP1100i has been updated. The hydraulic, self-propelled, crawler-based surface top hammer drill is offered with a choice of powerplants, either a Caterpillar C9, producing 300hp at 1,800rpm for Tier 3 markets or a Caterpillar C9.3, producing 300hp at 1,800rpm for Tier 4F.

It’s remote access-ready, with an enhanced drill parameter set up and step-by-step trouble shooting instructions. The cab is ROPS and FOPS certified and it features Sandvik’s Ergo cool design.

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