January 13, 2020
Andreas Lundberg is the supervisor at Norrbottens Bergteknik:
“We are really looking forward to testing the new rig in Aitik. It’s a site with the harshest conditions possible for this type of work; up to minus forty Celsius, water and a lot of rock debris to handle. If it works in Aitik, it will work anywhere. There is no other site with tougher conditions.”
Norrbottens Bergteknik has operators with vast experience in working in Aitik; the unique conditions of the site and the extremely high demands they impose on both the operators and the machinery.
"It will be exciting to put our new SmartROC D65 into production. What is really interesting is of course the automated drilling as well as the ability to work remotely via BenchREMOTE. It will be very different from the way it is currently done, not least with respect to safety."
Andreas has high hopes for all the new features and the improved operator environment. He is also very keen to see whether automated operation will really be possible in Aitik.
“Aitik is extreme. You sometimes have to drill in over seven meters of overburden to get to solid rock. In such cases, we work based on what we hear. We listen and adapt the drilling according to the sound of the hammer. It takes a lot of experience to work this way. I’m cautiously optimistic that this new technology will be able to handle the tough conditions better than experience.”
The overburden affects things and makes the work more difficult in a number of ways.
“When there is so much of loose material to handle, the hole collapses all the time. As soon as you pull the rod up, it collapses again. It’s very time-consuming work. At another location, you could drill five holes in the same amount of time.”
This new rig manages the time aspect much better than its predecessor, mainly because it has the option of using longer drill rods. The new SmartROC D65 handles 8-meter lengths, which means that the operators do not need to change the rods as often.
“With the new SmartROC D65, we just need to add one rod instead of two as before. We will save a lot of time, especially if there is water. It’s really tough to try and join rods when there is a lot of water”.
BenchREMOTE operator station allows the operator to work from a safe distance and manage three rigs simultaneously, significantly boosting production capacity. Norrbottens Bergteknik estimates a considerably higher production rate.
“Having one operator covering two machines is just fantastic. Production will improve greatly, but it all centres around being able to rely hundred percent on these new automated systems. Naturally, we assume that everything will work out, and we are counting on this. We have been able to submit tenders for a significantly higher production rate thanks to our investment in the new SmartROC D65.”