Hastings Deering is launching Caterpillar's 'autonomous ready' MD6420B rotary blasthole drill rig this month.
Cat announced the development of the rigs late last year.
The MD6420B comes as standard with automation features including auto-level, auto-drill, auto-mast and operational system interlocks.
Designed for heavy open pit and surface mining, Cat says the new model of drill has a range of features from the ultra-class to the mid-size rotary drill line.
This includes greater operating fuel efficiency, safer and more precise electro-hydraulic controls, computer controlled drilling, as well as the automation of certain functions, most likely through Caterpillar's integrated MineStar system.
The control system also includes real-time machine health monitoring and built-in diagnostic tools. The on-board electronics suite has a Help page where all manuals and schematics are preloaded.
The MD6420B can drill holes as wide as 311 millimetres in diameter and has a multi-pass depth of 74.4 metres, which Cat says"makes it ideal for high-production drilling in both hard- or soft-rock applications".
It has a single pass hole depth of 12.8 to15.8 metres with a working height of 62 500 kilograms.
The rotary blasthole drill features heavy duty structures, including a new Cat 345 undercarraige with GLT, and a cascading and self-levelling staircase that improves entry and exit from the deck.
Hastings Deering’s Executive General Manager of Mining Adrian Carney said that Cat drills had a wider footprint than many people realised.
“Our customers are looking to lower their cost per tonne, remove ‘waste’ from the system and to optimise productivity.
“This is where technology can make a difference – the ability to drill faster and smarter, to the correct pattern and target depth every time.
“Importantly, technology is not just about the future – technology is here and now and is becoming more standard in new models. Our new MD6420B rotary blasthole drill comes autonomous ready. This means that our drill will utilise a wide range of technologies right now, and also provide a future proof platform to make sure the drill can scale up to take full advantage of future developments,” he said.
Also standard is a distributed PLC / CAN bus control system that is fully electronic with a state–of-the-art user interface. Drill monitoring and diagnostics are displayed on a large built in touch-screen panel.
The drill is pre-wired to support Terrain for drilling, part of Cat MineStar System. Terrain for drilling improves drilling accuracy, provides feedback on variations in bench geology, tracks drill and operator productivity, and allows remote, real-time supervision of drilling activity and blast planning.
The hazard avoidance features help operators stay away from previously drilled areas and other site hazards. Terrain also features real time recognition of rock properties, providing valuable information to miners.
Carney said the Cat drills are also one of the first to move towards fully autonomous mining capability.
“Cat MineStar Command enables remote, semi-autonomous or fully autonomous mining equipment solutions.
“It offers unprecedented improvements by allowing single operators to run multiple machines through semi-autonomous operation. We are very excited that Command will include tele-remote operation in early 2015, with fully autonomous pattern solutions available late 2015.
“We’re really moving into a phase where the biggest technology advancements will make substantial differences to our customers. Due to this we are also expanding our drill product line-up and introducing new products over the next 12 months starting with the MD6420 and the MD5150C hydraulic track drill.
“We recognise that full autonomy is not appropriate for a number of our customers, and that’s why we are focusing on a scalable path to autonomy, extending our geographic presence, truly integrating Caterpillar systems and processes like never before. The future for Cat drills is incredible – where there’s drilling – we’re there," Carney said.