Aiding laser focus

The dream of many sites is to increase production and at the same time drive down safety risks.

The development of realtime digital terrain mapping technology is now aiding one Queensland coal mine in achieving this.

Created in a partnership with LC, MIneWare’s Digital Terrain Mapping (DTM) system uses a series of boom mounted laser scanners and GPS sensors to continuously scan and map the area around draglines as they operate.

DTM is an extension of MineWare’s existing Pegasys dragline monitor, and tracks movement around the dragline while it works, providing live and historical comparisons between the mine plan and the actual ground as it changes.

Andrew Jessett, MineWare’s CEO, said a total scan of the dragline’s operating environment – both inside and outside of the set work area – is created by the scanners as the machine is swinging back and forth during its regular operations.

“This technology allows us to compare actual terrain to design in a visual sense,” he said.

“What this means is that we can significantly improve design compliance and reduce common operating errors by helping the operator know precisely where to dig and where to dump it.

“Operators and foremen can now identify and correct areas not to design as they occur (especially spoil toe), reducing the need for surveyors in the put. This is a big step forward for safety and productivity as problems can be fixed while the dragline is where with minimum coal loss from excavation.”

Regarding the successful trials at the unnamed Central Queensland coal mine, Jessett stated that this continuous pit data coming in is now allowing operators, dispatch/foreman, surveyors, and engineers to monitor operations in a safer environment. 

“With this improved data flowing back to the office, our client can see not only what has been completed but also calculate volumes, geo-tech analysis and monitoring, and check bucket factor  calculations when required,” he said.

“This improves safety by reducing the need for surveyors to complete scans themselves and work in potentially hazardous areas in the pit to check that the machine is digging to design.”

LC director Bruce Leslie add that the core value of the DTM system is the live “continuous reconciliation” process which improves operator efficiency.

“When it comes to correcting dig to plan errors, timing is everything,” Leslie said.

“Once a dragline has moved on, it is too late to go back and correct an issue; if an operator digs in the wrong place or creates batters at the wrong angle then the only time to correct the issue is right then and there, not once the dragline has moved to the next block.”

According to MineWare trials have shown live updates verified to within <300 millimetres of actual altitude in most environmental conditions.

It went on to add that the payback period for the technology, after examining reductions in spoil room errors or low wall dig to plan errors, has been as low as three months.

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