Modern Mining: Featured News

The IntelliShot™ electronic initiating system – AEL’s latest offering – has set a new technological benchmark to improve mining efficiencies through better blasting practices for the mining sector, according to Ashlin Pillay, Product Manager Electronic Initiation Systems at AEL Mining Services.

The need for efficient mining is driving mining companies to reinvent their strategies and adopt agile planning and new operating models that utilise innovative technologies to extract the most out of the process stream. “AEL intends not only to deliver superior initiating technology to the mining industry but also to provide tools within its systems to manage the blasting data in the pre and post-blasting stages to enhance blasting efficiencies,” says Pillay.

The IntelliShot™ Commander and IntelliShot™ Tagger.

The IntelliShot™ 4G detonator allows for the delay and location to be stored in the detonator during tagging which improves the programming speeds, up to seven times faster than previous systems, during the blast process.

IntelliShot™ is the latest innovation in electronic initiation and promises a fast and simple deployment method, along with autonomous detection and testing of detonators, and energy monitoring right up to the point of blasting, he says. “This removes all the uncertainty from the blasting environment, allowing the operator to pre-test the entire detonator network to ensure functionality according to the blast design and prevent unforeseen blast delays and outcomes.”

By managing the uncertainty at blast time and effectively coordinating blasting frequency, it becomes possible to manage operation downtime, disruption and unforeseen disturbances caused by blasting activities. Large blast patterns or multiple benches can be blasted easily and safely due to the system’s unique market-leading capability of being able to initiate 16 000 detonators per blast.

The IntelliShot™ detonator, a component of the system, is a fully programmable electronic detonator that can be tailored to fit all types of blasting operations. As mentioned the new 4G detonator allows for the delay and location to be stored in the detonator during tagging which improves the programming speeds, during the blast process. Additional features include an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) with 15 times more memory for storing and tracking unique identification numbers.

Another key element of the system, the multi-purpose IntelliShot™ Commander, can be used as a Bench Commander, Base Commander or a Repeater as and when the function is required. With a line-of-site of up to 3 km, the system has a long-range communication capability which is further enhanced by a repeater functionality – giving the user a defined 6 km communication range allowing for improved safety at blast time.

The IntelliShot™ Tagger is a unique hand-held device with a dual function: it allows the user to conduct on-bench activities such as tagging (which writes the delay and location to the detonator), while also carrying out the full functionality test and creates a blast interface to the Commanders during the blasting stage.  

This allows the Tagger not only to assist in detonator troubleshooting, but it can also record the GPS location of the detonator. Furthermore, it tests leakage, troubleshoots the bench, can test up to 400 detonators at a time, and has excellent battery management technology.

“We are able to put the whole blast design onto the Tagger, which can then be taken to the bench and connected to each detonator,” says Pillay. He highlights that in both its functions – as a tagging device and as an interface to the Blast Commander itself – the Tagger is inherently safe. “It will not initiate a blast as the detonator requires a blast command before the blast sequence is activated,” he says. “The IntelliShot™ control equipment has a number of inherent safety protocols built into the software and hardware to prevent unintended initiations taking place on the bench.”

The system offers three tagging methods that allow for greater flexibility in user preference – catering from simple blast designs with fixed delay formats to complex blast designs utilising survey coordinates.

Due to the advanced safety features of the IntelliShot™ system, the risk of unintended initiations has been significantly mitigated. The system software offers additional flexibility by enabling the use of a tablet as an optional control instrument to connect wirelessly to the Bench Commander. Featuring a full-colour graphic user interface, the information is displayed in larger format – making it more readable. Additional benefits include being able to download the full detonator list and being able to access the full blast design with a comprehensive view. This allows the user to apply quick edits to the blast plan simulation. Password protected BlastCards store encrypted blast commands and RF settings which use Near Field Communication (NFC) to aim and fire remotely from the Bench and/or Base Commander.

According to Johann Smit, Director Marketing & Supply Chain at technology development house DetNet – which supplies AEL with the IntelliShot™ componentry as part of a global strategic partnership – the application of this latest technology has resulted in improved fragmentation and loading, which are vital aspects of more efficient and sustainable mining.

Smit also emphasises the importance of the company’s blast design software ViewShot® 3D, designed by DetNet and endorsed by AEL, to explore efficient avenues in spatial techniques for blast design.

“Blast design management is an integral part of efficient mining practices and the latest ViewShot® 3D makes this process easy and efficient,” he says. “You can now create optimal blast designs with a market-leading software tool capable of complete design, planning and analysis of your blast. The blast design can be wirelessly transferred onto the Tagger. ViewShot® 3D offers a number of unique features, including the ability to calculate the energy map distribution, optimise delays, predict fragmentation and even use animation to simulate blast timing. By integrating ViewShot® 3D with the IntelliShot™ system, users can deliver precision blasting and ensure unparalled safety during blasting operations.

Pillay concludes that AEL is gearing up to be an influential participant in the technology transformation in mining, now made possible by the digital revolution.

“Our role at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge technology to the mining industry allows us to continuously reshape the mining landscape with our numerous offerings,” says Pillay. “With our latest contribution to the electronic initiation sector, AEL will continue to be an enabler towards the next phase of the digital horizon in mining.”

Through their IntelliBlast™ value proposition, AEL offers a holistic and flexible approach to achieve optimal blast outcomes using their differentiated products and services.

Contact Modern Mining

Title: Editor
Name: Arthur Tassell
Email: mining@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Bennie Venter
Email: benniev@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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