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DRILL & BLAST


MACHINE STRESS REDUCTION During the trial, Phoenix AI considerably reduced machine stress without impacting productivity, leading to improved life of component such as MastBits, Steel, Rotary Head, Pumps and Shock subs. Te two figures on page 13 show


an increase in stress on mechanical components of the drill (the red and orange lines) even while providing lower productivity (blue line). Te operator does not adjust the drill parameters (primarily feed force) often while drilling where the auto drill constantly adjusts to match ground conditions. Key observations are: the operator


exceeds the maximum penetration rate and risks getting stuck in the hole; as the penetration risk spikes, Phoenix AI autonomous mode reduces the force on the bit while manual mode makes no adjustments; the operator drills at near maximum parameters, causing undue stress on the machine.


automatically generate and adjust force on the drill bit and rotary RPM to match ground conditions. It takes instant action to correct faults in a nearly predictive manner, can test new drilling parameters and determine positive or negative outcomes based upon that testing.


FINDING THE SWEET SPOT By employing AI-based drill automation technology mining companies can address common drill and blast challenges. Tey can eliminate operator variability and automatically mitigate downhole events that can lead to hole failure, machine stress and productivity losses. Bringing together the best of human


and artificial intelligence to optimise the drilling process, Phoenix AI decreases the gap between a good driller and a great driller. It’s like having your best operator in the seat on every shift, combining a layer of machine AI with real-time actionable feedback that eliminates the need for drillers to tune operational parameters on the drill. By taking instant action to respond to


and correct downhole faults, the system ensures the highest quality blast hole. By testing, and learning from, new drilling parameters, the system delivers supports long term continual improvement.


14 www.engineerlive.com


Te system ensures accurate execution of the mining engineer’s design and finds the sweet spot for every drill hole – the perfect balance of speed, pressure and force – to maximise penetration rates and total production without damaging the machine. By making live ground condition data available to the entire drill and blast team, they can determine the correct use of explosives relative to the ground conditions for improved blasting and fragmentation.


Tis technology has shown immediate and sustainable improvements in the field. For example, an Arizona copper mine achieved a 0.30c per foot reduction in drilling costs through the introduction of Phoenix AI drill automation. Tis has equated to an overall savings of US$210,000 in drilling costs, annually. During the two-month trial period, Phoenix AI increased drill production and penetration rates by 30%. Tis included a significant improvement in the overall feet drilled and the average drilling and retraction time per hole. For the mine site, this equated to more holes drilled, in less time, without compromising the machine. In a second trial, conducted two months later, Phoenix AI had outperformed all manual drill operations on site with the highest penetration rate.


PERFORMANCE RATES Blasthole drills were 12% more productive in autonomous mode than the most productive driller operating manually. Compared across three drills and all operators, thPhoenix AI delivered the highest performance and penetration rate of all three. Hole quality is one of the most notable improvements of AI-based drill automation. Correcting downhole issues during the drilling cycle results in high quality holes that play a key role in ensuring optimised fragmentation and blast outcomes.


LOOKING FORWARD Drill and blast teams seek interoperable, integrated digital technologies that can improve decision making and collaboration at multiple levels. AI is enabling greater insight than ever before and will continue to lead the way in optimising equipment and processes across the entire mining value chain. AI-optimised technologies help mining operations improve efficiency and productivity, by making faster, more accurate decisions and reducing human error to optimise machine performance.”


Curtis Stacy is with MineWare. www.mineware.com


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