Scooptram Automation Total

12 Frequently Asked Questions about Automation

1. What is automation in mining and construction?
A major shift in the mining and infrastructure equipment industry is the trend toward automation, interoperability and digitalization. The automation concept encompasses both autonomous equipment operation and autonomous fleet management.
Automating the control of various machine functions transitions operator experience inputs and traditional inputs to digital inputs from software and sensors. Automation can be run on board a machine, from a remote location, or on semi- and fully-autonomous projects with minimal operator-equipment interaction. Digital information management solutions connect equipment with systems and people to enable data-driven fleet management.
Automation is one part of a complete ecosystem in which people, systems and machines work together for more intelligent mining and infrastructure operations.


2. What are the benefits of automation?
The use of automation technology in mining and infrastructure operations increases safety, productivity, predictability and cost efficiency.
• Safety
A higher level of automation enhances health and safety conditions, delivering a better quality of life for employees. It removes workers from areas where there are higher risks such as ground stability and other mobile equipment in operation. Automation also reduces worker exposure to other hazardous conditions including noise, dust, vibration and heat.
• Productivity
Automation increases production rates and drives higher machine utilization through more reliable and better control of equipment, along with a higher amount and quality of data. It allows machines to operate accurately, even during shift changes, personnel breaks and clearance time, and improves the efficiency of equipment usage through automated navigation, traffic management, predictive maintenance, and more.
• Predictability
Automation eliminates fatigue, distraction and error associated with manual operation, delivering precise, consistent and repeatable performance. Information management solutions can check the status of equipment in real time to drive predictive maintenance.
• Cost efficiency
In addition to lowering costs through gains in safety, productivity and predictability, automation reduces labor needs and logistics investments. In underground applications, it also reduces ventilation and climate control requirements.
Overall, automation has the ability to connect the worksite for a smarter, more integrated operation.

3. Where and how is automation currently being used?
Quarry and construction operations as well as surface and underground mines around the world are using automation. The focus on automation is currently strongest in large mining countries including Australia, Chile, South Africa, Canada, the U.S., and Sweden.
Examples of current automation applications include:
• A surface mining operation in Australia controlling a fully autonomous fleet of blasthole drills from an operations center more than 800 miles away from the mines, reducing costs while increasing safety, productivity and predictability.
• An underground mine in Nevada remotely controlling a production drill from an office on the surface, increasing utilization, safety and overall efficiency.
• A drilling contractor operation in northern California utilizing onboard automation and GPS technology to increase hole quality and secure accurate hole planning and production data.
• Interest in and demand for automation solutions is growing quickly. For example, Epiroc currently has more than 2,500 connected machines worldwide, a number that is increasing rapidly.

4. What automation options are available?
Automation options include original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and third-party solutions for quarry and construction operations as well as surface and underground mines. Solutions available by segment include:
For quarry and construction operations
On-board automation options encompass wireless drilling plan and driller’s log file transmission and functionality that helps with quality and consistency of drilling. Operator assist functions include:
Auto drill, which recognizes drill bits and adjusts rotary drilling performance to rock conditions in real- time to deliver quality holes, consistency in operation, and optimized production.
Auto level to safely and efficiently level the drill per machine specifications.
Auto rod change, which can integrate into existing auto drill software to provide a complete multi-pass automation solution. Throughout the auto drill process, auto rod change reliably and efficiently adds rods to reach target depth and removes rods during the retract and cleaning phases.
• A hole navigation system guided by GPS leads the drill to the exact spot for drilling each hole. This system ensures that all holes are drilled to the correct depth and at the correct angle according to the drill plan, improving precision and reducing non-drilling time. With a GPS-guided hole navigation system, there is no need to manually mark and survey hole positions, which improves efficiency and safety on the bench.
Telematics solutions gather, compare and communicate vital equipment information through a user-friendly web portal. Available for new and existing surface and underground machines, telematics solutions also record information for later use in training, assessment and planning. The software is a key component in a
comprehensive solution to optimize workflow and enhance monitoring and management of equipment fleets. Solutions with open interfaces offer the critical ability to access telematics data from other systems.
A fleet efficiency mobile application can serve as a work-flow optimization partner, helping users keep track of productivity with relevant alerts and status updates. Advanced apps make it easier to manage fleet-related tasks and actions and to obtain input needed to prepare for reporting. Data can be securely stored in an encrypted cloud environment, which operations can also utilize to upload their own relevant content to create a safe digital fleet library over time.
Surface office software manages drill plans, allows for the creation of geo-fences and converts production data into useful information and reports. The software displays data in an easy-to-use layout to map drill usage, evaluate production statistics, track consumables and compare planned outcomes against actual results. Portrayed on charts and graphs, such management tools help with driller training and provide decision-making support.
Retrofit solutions from OEMs and third-party suppliers add automation functionality to machines, making them more productive and efficient. With automation technology advancing at a fast pace, retrofits could serve as a way for operations to keep up with industry trends until they are ready to purchase a new machine. Consultation with the OEM is recommended when considering third-party solutions.

For surface and underground mines
On-board automation options for surface drills include wireless drilling plan and driller’s log file transmission as well as functionality that helps with quality and consistency of drilling. Available operator- assist functions for surface drills include:
Auto drill, which recognizes drill bits and adjusts rotary drilling performance to rock conditions in real- time to deliver quality holes, consistency in operation, and optimized production.
Auto level to safely and efficiently level the drill per machine specifications.
Auto rod change, which can integrate into existing auto drill software to provide a complete multi-pass automation solution. Throughout the auto drill process, auto rod change reliably and efficiently adds rods to reach target depth and removes rods during the retract and cleaning phases.
• A hole navigation system guided by GPS leads the drill to the exact spot for drilling each hole. This system ensures that all holes are drilled to the correct depth and at the correct angle according to the drill plan, improving precision and reducing non-drilling time. With a GPS-guided hole navigation system, there is no need to manually mark and survey hole positions, which improves efficiency and safety on the bench.
Onboard automation options for underground development and production machines include:
Remote access, which allows remote supervision of drill rigs and reliable transfers of drill plans and log files to and from the rig through a wireless network, saving time and resources.
• An operator guidance system, which enables digital drill plan handling and void detection for optimized drilling and blasting and reduced overbreak.
Full automation enabling execution of drilling even through personnel breaks and shift changes. The drill pattern is selected, the boom and feed is positioned automatically and fully automatic drilling takes place including automatic collaring of the hole. A semi-automatic mode is also available. The optimized program hole sequences add precision and minimize wear of components and bits for consistency, controlled production and reduced maintenance.
Digital rock analysis, providing visual and numerical analysis based on accurate data from the drilling process for each hold. It can be used with office support software to optimize drill and charging plans.
• A tunnel profiler that enables automating scanning of the tunnel and calculation of overbreak over underbreak at the face of rock excavation.
Tunnelling automation software for face drilling rigs enables the adjustment of drilling plans on the fly for improved accuracy of the excavation. With this software, the drill rig can create its own drill plans directly at the face of the tunnel. Simply by downloading the contours of the tunnel or mine drifts to the drill rig together with a drill rule file, the drill rig can create drill plans tailored for the section.
With a navigation system for underground production and rock bolting drill rigs, information provided by laser sensors and cameras mounted the equipment enables the operator to simply navigate, position and stabilize the rig to ensure that drilling is executed according to plan. The operator can perform this accurate navigation with no surveyor needed at the drill rig setup.
Ring-to-ring functionality available in a teleremote e-tramming option for underground production drilling equipment enables a face drilling rig to be operated remotely and work more productively in a continuous “ring-to-ring” fashion. After drilling a ring and retrieving the rods, the rig can be teleremotely trammed to the next ring, saving time and work effort.
A remote operator station enables and operator to control multiple smart surface drill rigs from a distance, leading to a safer and more effective operation. The operator can perform all of the same drilling functions that can be done in the cab, with communication between the remote operator station and remote rigs ensured via closed and secured wireless networks. Some solutions also support geofencing for added safety.
Teleremote operation includes remote drill control either from a line-of-sight trailer option or an operating station option in an office for a safe, climate-controlled environment from anywhere in the world. This enables one operator to run several drills at a time for enhanced productivity.
Fully autonomous operation enables rigs to be programmed and sequenced to complete a drill pattern autonomously from anywhere in the world to drill 24 hours a day to complete a given task. This greatly reduces drilling costs, safety risks and operational free will.
Rock bolting rigs offer automatic resin injections, an automatic cement system, and bolt plan navigation to enhance safety and productivity. Some rigs also feature a robust navigation solution.
Automation packages for loaders and haul trucks allow the equipment to be controlled through an operator station from a remote location, boosting productivity and safety. The automation software also makes it possible for operators to quickly and easily transition from manual to automatic mode, which is critical in mines with a dynamic environment or quick advancements. Loaders and haul trucks can learn multiple routes and alternate between them. Flexible remote operator station and teleremote options for loaders and trucks further enhance safety and productivity.
Telematics solutions gather, compare and communicate vital equipment information through a user-friendly web portal. Available for new and existing surface and underground machines, telematics solutions also record information for later use in training, assessment and planning. The software is a key component in a comprehensive solution to optimize workflow and enhance monitoring and management of equipment fleets.
A fleet efficiency mobile application can serve as a work-flow optimization partner, helping users keep track of productivity with relevant alerts and status updates. Advanced apps make it easier to manage fleet-related tasks and actions and to obtain input needed to prepare for reporting. Data can be securely stored in an encrypted cloud environment, which operations can also utilize to upload their own relevant content to create a safe digital fleet library over time.
Surface office software manages drill plans, allows for the creation of geo-fences and converts production data into useful information and reports. The software displays data in an easy-to-use layout to map drill usage, evaluate production statistics, track consumables and compare planned outcomes against actual results. Portrayed on charts and graphs, such management tools help with driller training and provide decision-making support.
Office support software helps with planning, administration and evaluation of the drilling operation in mining and tunneling projects. Drifting and tunneling rigs with support software can utilize planning data for navigation and positioning of the holes to be drilled. The software also continuously and automatically collects drilling data.
Decision-support systems can increase personnel safety and productivity. A position-based system such as Mobilaris Mining IntelligenceTM can be used to track and find equipment, vehicles, personnel and oversee infrastructure in real-time 3D. Due to its open interface, Mobilaris is also easy to integrate with mining applications for information-driven mining and tunneling operations.
Command and control solutions featuring embedded artificial intelligence for multi-vehicle command, control and monitoring that maximize productivity and safety in vehicle operations. Mobius® from ASI Mining is one example of an advanced command and control solution.
Comprehensive solutions connect machines, systems and people using automation, information management and system integration to achieve higher production at lower operating costs. New 6th Sense from Epiroc enables a connected operation to instantly share critical information, synchronize resources and coordinate a response in real time.
Retrofit solutions from OEMs and third-party suppliers add automation functionality to machines, making them more productive and efficient. With automation technology advancing at a fast pace, retrofits could serve as a way for operations to keep up with industry trends until they are ready to purchase a new machine. Consultation with the OEM is recommended when considering third-party solutions.


5. When does it make sense for a company to consider automation?
Automation can benefit virtually any operation seeking to achieve improved worker safety, productivity increases, better predictability, and cost reductions. Solutions are completely scalable and flexible, with implementation and ongoing support available from automation partners.

6. What are the steps of the automation implementation process?
The automation implementation road map varies by operation and needs. However, there are generally eight steps an automation solutions provider takes with a customer in the process:
1) Evaluate the customer’s operation, equipment fleet and needs.
2) Establish key performance indicators (KPIs), create baselines and set goals.
3) Define automation solutions that meet the customer’s unique needs.
4) Review customer requirements including performance of a network assessment.
5) Identify customer operating procedures.
6) Deliver automated equipment and solutions.
7) Conduct training of customer personnel.
8) Provide ongoing support and optimizations.


7. How scalable are automation implementation plans?
Plans for automation implementation are fully scalable and flexible. Automation solutions available today include everything from basic on-board equipment automation to complex ecosystem management systems. If an operation starts its automation and digitalization journey with a customized implementation plan, equipment and systems can be upgraded with added capabilities over time. The right automation partner can create a step-by-step plan that tailors automation and information management solutions to a customer’s situation and operating targets.


8. How do I migrate operators from traditional to automated equipment operation?
The transition of workers from traditional to automated equipment operation can be a significant challenge. Many operators are experienced and comfortable with running machines manually. Hands-on training from an automation partner can quickly instill confidence in running and supervising new technology. After the migration, the partner can monitor utilization and provide follow-up training to help optimize autonomous operations. Once operators are familiar with automation technology, most report high satisfaction with safer, more comfortable working environment and machine performance.
While there is sometimes a perception that automation replaces jobs, the opposite is often reality. For example, some operations must add personnel to build and maintain Wi-Fi infrastructure. Automation also opens paths for employees to more fully realize their potential with expanded skill sets, achieving at higher levels in an improved working environment.

9. Which tooling should I select for my automated drilling equipment?
Historically, mining and infrastructure operations have looked at total cost per foot drilled — cost divided by the product’s average life in feet — when they assess the value of rotary tooling. Operations that utilize automation should shift their focus to total drill cost.
Unlike cost per foot, the total drill cost concept accounts for tooling’s impact on the total production cost of a machine over time. Total drill cost measures not only tooling product investment and longevity, but also the tooling’s contribution to production — penetration rate — and how it minimizes costly disruptions to automated drilling activities.
Take the example of a drill that is capable of moving point-to-point, drilling and changing rods all on its own. While automation essentially removes any lost productivity due to operator breaks, the drill still must be stopped every four hours for a bit change. In this scenario, production will always fall short of its potential.
Now envision using a next-generation drill bit that delivers the same cost per foot but requires changing only once every eight hours. The additional 15 to 20 minutes drilling each shift may seem inconsequential, but over the course of a month will result in considerable production gains and lower operating costs per ton produced in the long term. Total drill cost is the way the mining and infrastructure industry is heading. The concept demands manufacturer commitment to working with customers on data and product integration with an ultimate goal of lowering that number.


10. What support is available for automation solutions?
The implementation of automation into mining and infrastructure operations is scalable and flexible. Automation solutions providers have specialized teams dedicated to supporting customers through the implementation process. After the initial implementation, these teams can provide ongoing support to help customers continue to take the right steps toward safety, productivity and improved operations through automation.
As an example of available support, Epiroc offers Regional Application Centers in key markets cities around the world. These centers focus on supporting customer requests for enhanced productivity and technical assistance for the complete range of Epiroc smart equipment. Epiroc technical service teams at the Regional Application Centers can help convert manual drill rigs to automatic, provide training and educate operators on how to supervise remote-controlled equipment.

11. What should I look for in an automation solutions provider?
The right automation partner has the industry reputation, application experience and flexible approach to help customers on their automation and digitalization journey. An automation provider should be able and willing to bring together cutting-edge technologies, draw on historical data, and work in close collaboration with both the customer and other partners. With an ecosystem view and an open and agnostic approach, the right partner can help a customer integrate equipment, services and information management systems into a custom solution that makes the operation safer, more productive, and more efficient.

12. Whom do I contact for more information about automation?
For more information on automation technology, contact the specialized team at an automation solutions provider. To reach Epiroc’s U.S. Regional Application Center, visit www.epiroc.us, fill out this information request or call Regional Application Center Manager Hans Schill at 720-620-6217.

Third-party partners can also provide information and insight to interested companies. Examples include ASI Mining, LLC, and Mobilaris.

ASI Mining is a U.S.-based company that provides technology solutions for the autonomous operation of mining vehicles. Its products include on-board hardware and software that convert vehicles to autonomous operation, as well as system level software platforms for command and control of autonomous fleets across various mining applications. The solutions integrate with various mobile mining machines, regardless of make or model, and are used by mining customers globally. To contact ASI Mining, visit www.asirobots.com, send ASI a message, or call 866-881-2171.

MobilarisGroup is a world leader in realtime based decision support solutions and associated digital tools, digitizing mines, industries and authorities with solutions that increase productivity and security. Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering increases the usage of information-driven operations within underground mines and tunneling projects. The Mobilaris product portfolio, including Mobilaris Mining IntelligenceTM, features solutions for situational awareness,emergency support and ventilation on demand. To contact Mobilaris in the Americas,visit www.mobilaris.se,fillout thisform