Longer drill rods, improved fuel burn and upgraded software have made Atlas Copco’s SmartROC T45 Top Hammer drill rig even smarter. The machine is designed to boost productivity at limestone and aggregate quarries as well as construction, open-pit and selective mining operations by drilling faster, better and more accurately.
Mines and quarries understand that profitability, and ultimately the future of the plant, hinges on sustainable productivity. A combination of quality equipment, automation technology and service excellence are fundamental to driving down operational and maintenance costs and driving up efficiencies, safety and equipment availability to boost production.
Atlas Copco’s globally renowned quality is echoed in Powered by Automation, the company’s holistic approach to automation technology that straddles its full range of mining equipment, systems, operations and services. “Automation goes far beyond fully autonomous products,” stresses Hedley Birnie, Business Line Manager, Atlas Copco Mining and Rock Excavation Technique’s Surface and Exploration Drilling. “It encompasses anything from data collection on equipment utilisation and machine conditions to advanced planning and analysis of the operations at hand.”
Automated operations such as remote control solutions, automatic safety features and systems, improved information integration, visualisation and control of operations deliver a host of benefits including better planning, precision drilling, improved accuracy, machine availability and extended equipment lifecycle, enhanced operator safety and performance, as well as improved fuel efficiency for productivity improvement across-the-board.
“While automation technology is fairly new to southern Africa, 16 SmartROCs (three in the Northern Cape, three in Limpopo and 10 North West) of which five have been in operation for several years, we are seeing a growing interest in both the rigs as well as the automation features they offer. Smart mines and quarries realise that the implementation of automation technology is crucial to a sustainable and profitable future and SmartROC is perfectly positioned to meet the necessary requirements.”
Equipped with leading-edge automation technology, the SmartROC T45 delivers optimised drilling and blasting processes. Rig Remote Access (RRA) sends drill patterns, hole angles and depths to the rig with GPS coordinates, enabling the SmartROC T45 to drill holes autonomously and accurately in the right place at the right depth and at the right angle. “It also allows you to reach the desired hole depth while drill tubes are added automatically,” adds Birnie. Recent upgrades have made the SmartROC T45 even more cutting-edge; the lengthening of the drill rods and starter rods to 4,2 m and 6,1 m, respectively, increases uptime due to fewer stops.
“We are continuously updating the software of our SmartROC drill rigs for highest possible rig performance,” says Birnie. Latest updates on the SmartROC T45 include a better drill control system for improved performance in broken ground and better control of the GPS compass. Operators are also now able to turn the HNS (Hole Navigation System) on and off.
With BenchREMOTE, the operator can conveniently monitor progress from the comfort of the cabin situated 100 m away. Decreased operator fatigue reduces errors and increases safety for improved operational efficiencies and boosted productivity.