Non-explosive machinery delivers explosive results

Astec-BTI Breakerboss reimagines mobile rockbreaking in underground mines, solving the concerns of managing oversize rocks in a safe yet vigorous manner.

Miners have long faced the challenge of managing oversize rocks without involving explosives.

Their list of concerns extends to keeping people away from underground mines without hurting operational productivity and production schedules.

A remotely operated rock breaker that reduces reliance on explosives, while removing people from the dangers of underground mines is addressing both problems.

Astec-BTI’s rollout of the BreakerBoss 5D provides workers with a safe and comfortable solution for managing oversize rocks from the safety of a remote surface location.

According to Astec Australia national product manager – mining John Williams, the BreakerBoss 5D is a natural development integrating the latest technologies with all the hard lessons the company has learnt from over 20 years manufacturing mining vehicles.

The BreakerBoss replaces the well-known mobile rockbreaker series, while deriving the concepts of Astec’s successful Boss series mobile scaling vehicle.

“The biggest development between (the mobile rockbreaker) series has been in the cabin ergonomics and remote-control options, (considering) miners’ growing emphasis to eliminate workers from hostile environments and look after them in the cabin,” Williams says.

The BreakerBoss provides a relief to both with an oversize rollover protection system (ROPS) and falling object protection system (FOPS) cabin, which is centrally mounted over the articulation point with up-toceiling safety glass.

This design gives operators maximum visibility, comfort and control over their workspace. It is considered the most outstanding feature that resonates with users, according to Williams.

The cabin features airconditioning and an ergonomic airride seat with integrated joysticks for boom control, as well as a relatable steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal for tramming.

“Whilst comfort and control is the new toy, the breaker is still more than suited to do the job at hand with a capability of carrying up to an 8800 joule hydraulic breaker (2200 kilograms) and reaching five metres from the front of the vehicle,” Williams tells Australian Mining.

“A hammer of this size can break the toughest of oversize (rocks) in seconds without the need for explosives, allowing the mine to keep on working.”

Williams says the BreakerBoss 5D is an innovation that reflects advances in technology – some of it is recent and others that have been around and tested in other industries.

“Astec-BTI (has) been producing rockbreaking solutions for miners since 1958, and mobile rockbreaking vehicles have been in our product mix for over 20 years,” Williams says.

It should be no surprise that the BreakerBoss 5D’s next generation controls have been revolutionary to many mine managers. The machine can be operated remotely from a small distance away via radio, or from the surface via the mine’s communication system.

The remote-control system can be controlled either by line of site radio remote or configured into the Astec-BTI BreakerIntel long distance remote control system and other surface control systems.

This BreakerIntel system not only includes long distance controls, but also offers force and speed control, automated movements, collision avoidance, monitoring and diagnostics and the ability to operate multiple rockbreaker stations with a single remote.

The remote-control options give the mine the ability to access and operate the equipment in areas previously deemed hazardous. It also means the vehicle can operate in mine zones that are being developed, and in unstable and hazardous environments such as open stopes and hung up draw points in sub-level and block caves.

The BreakerBoss, being a non-explosive option to handle oversize rocks, also shares the same hydrostatic Poclain drivetrain that has proven itself effective in the Minerunner all-purpose utility vehicle, which can tram above the production flow of traffic.

The drive train features a single hydraulic pump that drives four independent wheel motors. This reduces maintenance cost significantly as braking and transmission is all achieved without any wear parts or mechanical linkages.

The hydraulic drivetrain provides a tramming speed of 15 kilometres every hour, providing enough speed to keep up with the rest of the fleet and mining tyres that will not carve up the drives.

From a maintenance and service perspective, the BreakerBoss is designed with access to the engine (Deutz 129 horsepower). Its hinged access doors allow the cooler and electrical panels to be easily worked on.

System updates are easily transferrable via a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection through the BreakerBoss’ performance monitor (PM) four, which has the dual functionality of a reversing camera.

This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Australian Mining.

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