Mining teams preserve valuable resources with rugged Algiz plates
Communication and data transfer between geological surveys in challenging underground and surface mining environments.
Using powerful, robust tablets Algiz military-standard for fast data collection and processing.
Real-time decision-making and efficient use of resources, thanks to one of the world’s most reliable mobile technologies.
When you’re drilling into materials so hard that you have to pierce them with actual diamonds, rough handling of the equipment is part of the job. Mining is a struggle with a hard surface. It also causes particle-laden air, a multitude of weathering influences and all lighting conditions, from total darkness to sunlight.
Add to this large, constantly vibrating machines that produce water and dust, and you have a cocktail of dangers that most people would never dream of bringing their normal ICT equipment, consisting of a lightweight tablet computer.
But James Hunter, the resourceful CTO of Axis Mining Technology, is not “most people” – and the Algiz 8X is no ordinary tablet either.
When Hunter started looking for the ideal lightweight tablet to integrate into Axis Mining Technology’s Champ Gyro geological exploration solution, his list of requirements was daunting:
“Mining teams need technology that manages exploration equipment, provides geolocation data and connects to the web to transmit data collected in the field,” says Hunter. “The tablet needs to be on the drill site at all times and if it cannot be charged, the ability to change batteries while the drill is running is important. All of this must be done under harsh mining conditions, with minimum disruption and downtime. If necessary, they should be repaired to reduce the total cost of ownership.“
To summarise: an all-in-one geodetic field controller, GIS unit, data collector and communication device that stays charged, is suitable for harsh environments and can be repaired but not replaced? Wow. Fortunately for Axis, this was not too much for Handheld.
We will come to the conclusion, but first let’s rewind. The details are worth “digging out”.
Mining teams inspect, pull and analyse core for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they are looking for specific minerals and natural resources and need to know whether their drilling route will hit what they are looking for. In other cases, mineral composition is assessed to identify signs of health and structural integrity.
“They use a diamond core or reverse circulation drill to a certain depth and then gyro the borehole with one of our specialised Champ Gyro tools,” Hunter explains.
Diamond core drilling and reverse circulation drilling both involve sample collection and analysis. Diamond rods have – you guessed it – diamonds embedded in them, allowing the machines to drill through the hardest stuff on Earth and extract the core intact. RC drilling is faster but less precise, quickly extracting core fragments for analysis when needed.
Technological advances have made this process much more efficient in recent years. But even with powerful drilling rigs, the most powerful drill rods and the latest underground exploration technology, the success or failure of a mining team can depend on timing and other factors. Too many delays and huge, expensive machines waste time and energy, not to mention their depreciation and risks in such a demanding environment. And there is work for the teams, managers and geologists on site.
Based on the above, the winning tablet cannot only be a powerful field controller, data collector and communication device, but also a reliable work tool – because functional solutions, even if they work, are only really functional if they don’t lose power or break down in the middle of the job, right?
Enter here Algiz 8X : an IP65 rugged tablet tested to US military standards, with a long-lasting, replaceable battery.
Mining teams load the Champ Gyro gyroscopic surveying tool into the drill rod, which is connected to a wire winch with a depth counter. The tool and the depth sounder are connected via BT to an Algiz tablet running the proprietary Champ Gyro software.
“For a borehole to be useful, it needs to be pointed at a predefined coordinate of a subsurface target,” Hunter explains.
Surveys can be carried out at several depths along the same borehole, after which the survey tool is brought to the surface. The Champ Gyro software processes the data and displays it to the driller on the tablet screen. The driller uploads this on-site data to the company’s On-Site cloud platform, where it is reviewed by an on-site geologist.
Hunter says that with the help of the robust Algiz tablet, which handles communication and data transfer, the geologist can review the data and report back to the site team on important decisions and instructions in just a few minutes.
“Sometimes it’s simply a question of has the well reached the desired target depth? Has it reached the right dip, slope or subsurface coordinates? If so, the geologist can instruct the team to stop drilling and prepare for the next well.”
In other cases, it’s more complicated: “If a hole needs to be reoriented to get it back on track, this requires directional drilling and special drilling equipment and techniques such as a directional motor or a drill wedge.
By integrating communication capabilities into surveying systems and managing them via ultra-rugged tablet technology, communication between teams and site managers becomes almost seamless. This virtually eliminates unnecessary downtime and helps miners make the most of their staff, tools and resources.
The rugged, dirty, greasy, wet and humid environment has proven to be no match for handheld tablets. “The signs are often abused, but they cope quite well,” reports Hunter. If and when repairs are needed, Axis can actually carry them out. This means they do not need to be replaced, avoiding longer congestion and other costs. Handheld is committed to making durable devices that can be repaired and reduce total cost of ownership and environmental costs of ownership.
And the initial costs? That’s not a bad thing either. “The initial investment is very competitive compared to other major brands,” says Hunter.
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They are always available for opinions and explanations:
Handheld Expert: Blaž Lepenik
Mojca Kugler, source: Cutting Down on Downtime, Handheld