Fragmentation analysis for site-specific solutions

Hexagon

Hexagon’s technology provides accurate blast information that’s used to recover more of a mine’s resources.

This technology provides operators with a suite of solutions for monitoring the particle size characteristics of material from mine to mill for drill and blast optimisation. Only when drill and blast outcomes are measured can you understand performance and determine if the processes must be modified for best effect.

Hexagon’s technology suite for fragmentation analysis is called Split, and it’s based upon more than 25 years of research and development. 

The technology has grown to encompass an array of image processing technologies, which mine operators can install on shovels, conveyors and crushers to analyse the fragmentation of post-blast material. 

A team from Arizona in the United States, led by Split director of business development Tom BoBo, set out to commercialise the technology ahead of its time in the 1990s. 

Twenty years later, Hexagon acquired Split Engineering to accompany its broad offering of technologies for planning, operations and safety. 

BoBo says Split was a popular product as mining companies came to learn the true value of fragmentation analysis. 

“Out the gate, we had at least 15 different mines within the first three to four years. Looking forward, there’s more opportunity to get across some of the larger iron ore operations,” BoBo tells Australian Mining. 

Hexagon drill and blast business development manager Rangan Ramanathan has been involved with the engineering of effective drill and blast processes for decades.

He explains why it is so important to measure drill and blast results, such as blast movement and fragmentation, before reassessing execution and design through analytics.

“In the drill and blast design process you are designing to an outcome. And you need to find a way to measure whether what you’ve achieved is what you set out to do. That’s where solutions like Split come into play,” Ramanathan says. 

While the entire Split suite can be used across a mine site, customers are able to approach Hexagon with an issue and walk away with a solution. 

To ensure its customers maximise the advantage of Split, Hexagon undertakes a thorough assessment of each operation’s needs.

BoBo says the process from initial enquiry to installation is extremely collaborative between Hexagon and its customers.

“Once we get the purchase order, we undertake two phases. The first involves a site visit and a site-specific design,” he says. 

“We come out with a design report, which gives details of tasks for the customer and details of what we need to procure and integrate for their site-specific system. 

“Once this phase is complete, we ship the gear to be installed as per the design and we return to undertake the final integration, commissioning, calibration and training.”

Roughly 25 per cent of customers use the entire suite in a holistic way across their mine sites, while the rest approach Hexagon with a specific part of the operation which needs optimising. 

Of course, this is totally up to the customer, according to BoBo and Ramanathan. Some customers prefer a more supportive relationship, while others are happy to have the technology installed and figure out an appropriate solution themselves.

An added benefit of Split’s monitoring capability is operators can use it to realise when equipment isn’t functioning to its full capacity, BoBo explains. 

“I’ve seen examples where a customer’s scheduled maintenance was a month away and Split was telling them they just weren’t achieving their desired particle size. So, they had to bring maintenance forward to optimise operations, and this is where Split pays for itself,” he says.

Split has also had customers use the information to interlock systems where, if oversize material is detected three times within a minute, it will stop the machine and potentially save equipment from being damaged, as well as ensure operational quality control.

A drill and blast suite to suit miners of all kinds, Split caters to customers so that they can get on with the job.  

 

This article appears in the August issue of Australian Mining.

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