The new design in drilling

As the mining environment evolves, the shift towards automation and removing the miner from the coalface is becoming more prevalent.

This is particularly relevant for underground mining and drilling, where the risk is increased compared to open cut operations.

Especially for hand drilling operations with individuals using jackleg drills.

However a new drill design is aimed at taking some of the danger and difficulty out of jackleg drilling, and was recognised as a finalist in the global James Dyson design engineering awards.

The project, dubbed Skorpion, is a compact drill carrier "designed to bridge the features and safety of large scale jumbos with the size and versatility of the jackleg drill," designer Borys Chylinski, an industrial design student at Canada's Humber College, explained.

He stated that while jumbos are ergonomically designed for operators, their size often makes them too large for many mining operations, and miners are instead forced to use jacklegs, which are virtually unchanged since the 1930s, and due to their weight, poor ergonomics, and high rate of vibration, cause a number of hand and vibration issues to operators.

The Skorpion overcomes this by "removing the user from danger by using a combination of wired and wireless systems that reduce direct exposure to the noise, terrain, and harmful vibrations of mining.

The compact drill carrier is designed as a vehicle to access uneven terrain and confined mining spaces easily.

It is operated by a single user who stands on a platform at the rear of the machine, and using wired connection trams it to the site for drill or scaling.

"The quadruped all-terrain system allows for optimal mobility over rough terrain and optimal stability when the drilling mast is fully extended," Chylinski said.

"To improve visibly within the typically dark drifts the Skorpion has been equipped with high power, floor to ceiling LED light that are designed to illuminate the entire drilling face as well as the surrounding terrain when the unit is mobile.

"Once the drilling face is reached the operator can detach the control panel and initiate drilling remotely from a safe distance."

It is powered by a hybrid air-electric system, and when tramming the in-hub motors run off battery power.

In order to drill it must be connected to compressed air and water systems, while the compressed air is also forced through a motor that recharges the battery, reducing fuel consumption.

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