Machine guidance tools are no longer a luxury they were regarded a few years back. Now, they have become standard in critical operations in exploration and mining due to changing conditions in mining. .
The cost of running mining operations has skyrocketed due to increase input costs, in addition to regulators’ vigilance on safety. This has prompted mine operators to seek smarter, safer and cost effective technologies of increasing productivity. And machine guidance tools fit the bill. A Survey manager at Botswana mining giant, Debswana, could not put it better when he observed about the necessity of machine tools: the problem facing mining engineers is to maximise the economic benefits of a project without putting the mine workers and mining equipment at risk.”
Machine guidance tools are being used in drill navigation, eliminating errors that surface with conventional drill guiding.
Case in point
A classic case of a machine guidance tool is the ProVision Shovel system, which actively guides operators through a high-precision GPS to dig the correct material. The system keeps the designed bench grade while respecting dig limits, and working within the machine’s optimal operating specifications.
ProVision Shovel system developer and supplier comments, “The system integrates with mine planning software, providing operators with real-time updates to ore boundaries for improved resource management. The guiding system shows real-time track elevation against plan, helping to reduce bench grade rework and improve drilling performance on subsequent benches.”
It is extremely difficult to supervise several operators in a project. As expected, mistakes, which could have been easily avoided with earlier detection and minor intervention or supervision, occur.
Every modern mine has a wide range of equipment such as shovels, dozers, graders and draglines which are required to function together to keep the haul cycle turning, as Devon Wells, an expert from OEM, Wencom, comments. Conveniently, integrated machine guidance keeps the equipment connected in real time. Beneficially, it identifies and prevents potentially misdirected loads through seamless integration with various systems.
With an integrated system, all plant equipment stays in sync, allowing each unit to work from the same database easily sharing information, this could be shovels or dozers, loaders or light vehicles.
A system which meets all requirement of an integrated monitoring system is ProVision office application. ProVision office application allows supervisors to monitor all equipment at once from the office, avoiding travel time between work areas. With all these capabilities, dozers can easily maneuver around hazards and other equipment, even in foggy or dusty conditions.
The most fascinating part about the integrated systems is the user interface feature, which is very user-friendly, provides visual feedback to the operators, making it easy to see the information which is required to make important loading decisions.
Raising employing awareness
To ensure that employees’ are acquainted with the system, education and training on machine guidance initiatives could be a way of bringing expectations in line with the technological capacities possessed by guidance tools.
Indeed, mine operators need to balance the potential value of machine guidance tools to increase efficiency and enhance safety, with the efficient training and education of operators. This is imperative as it is not only a question of how enterprises collect guidance data, but also what they do once they have it.