Sandvik delivers safer drilling with automation enhancements

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has rolled out automation upgrades for its 400i series drills, DD422i and DD422iE, to deliver safer 24/7 underground drilling.

The upgrade helps address increased health and safety concerns relating to geotechnical challenges when carrying out deeper mine operations.

To reduce operator exposure under demanding conditions, Sandvik’s upgrade package delivers automation with its boom collision avoidance system, which can be taken as an individual enhancement or as part of a total solution package.

The system uses a dynamic route recalculation model that predicts potential collisions. This prevents the drill from shutting down when the boom encounters a possible collision when being operated unattended. It also ensures that production is maintained without any interruptions.

During manual boom control, the system protects the unit from careless operation by first slowing, and then stopping, boom movements if they are too close to the carrier or another boom.

Another feature is Sandvik’s semi-automatic drill bit changer, which is able to drill perimeter holes in an automated and unmanned process without excessive risk of wall collisions.

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The operator will also spend less time in front of the drill, reducing personnel exposure to weak ground conditions (such as at the face) and the need to get in and out of the operator cab (which is one of the main cause for various angle and knee injuries in underground operations).

The bit changer consists of racks of drill bits (six or nine standard bits, plus a reaming bit) for both booms. The principle is simply to remove the old bit and then retrieve a new one from the boom aside when the need arises.

Another key part of the new package is a teleremote drilling control that allows the drill to be operated remotely, which allows the operator to help the unit drill more holes during shift change, blasting and ventilation times.

Teleremote drilling can also reduce the risk of equipment damage by allowing for remote supervision of the drill when operating unmanned.

By using the Sandvik DD422i / DD422iE automation upgrade package, more holes can be drilled during an operating period, improving overall productivity of the underground mine development process.

Where required, it also acts as a solution to reduce operator exposure to potentially dangerous conditions at the face, thus making overall drilling production more reliable and also safer.