Dustin Penn, Business Line Manager for Atlas Copco Drilling Solutions in Australia, serves several iron ore mines with the RCS-based PV-271 blasthole rigs. Some have pushed forward from AutoLevel and AutoDrill to more advanced systems to continue to conquer operational and strategic goals. “The issue in Australia,” says Penn, “is the limited workforce and the extraordinary expense of personnel logistics for our customers – everything from employee housing and food service to transportation. It’s a two-hour flight for them to get in and out of the mine.”
The goal for these Australian mines is to expand their capabilities by growing a fleet with the drillers they have, and that means automation. Penn says: “With automation, the driller can become a supervisor of a drill fleet, not just a single driller operating one machine. Automation will not just lower production costs but will also streamline servicing. Multiple services such as water, fuel and visual inspection will be performed at once, more efficiently. Combined with the decreased downtime at shift changes, automation promotes greater Pit Viper utilization.
Penn emphasizes that transitioning to automation requires unified dedication from all management groups at a mine, from senior management to IT and human resources departments, to drilling, planning and blasting. Then the mine has to integrate with the supplier. Penn’s customers set up cross-functional teams to work with
Atlas Copco as they incorporate automation into the mine’s operations.
Epiroc operated under the trademark “Atlas Copco” prior to January 1, 2018.