Sandvik expects to introduce to market next year (2016) a new concept in remote technology that enables the operator to wirelessly control a surface drill rig through their mobile phone or tablet.
The new offering is part of a research and development strategy aimed at involving customers in the design and testing of new products before they are released to market, rather than making refinements afterwards.
In 2014 the global underground equipment manufacturer introduced a completely new radio remote controlled drill rig to its surface top hammer drill rig offering: the Dino DC400Ri. The concept of this new drill rig drew extensively on the experience of customers and users, and continuing this successful cooperation, Dino customers were invited to join a remote screen beta-test program.
“Customer cooperation is essential in product development, and especially in testing the new ideas in practice,” said Ilkka Lahdelma, Product Line Manager, Surface Drilling. “We want to involve our customers to provide us with valuable feedback for product improvements already in the product development phase, not just after the product is released to the market.”
One of the latest such products developed by Sandvik is the remote screen, which is a wireless screen solution for radio remote controlled drill rigs. Traditionally drill rig operator screens have been attached to the drill rig itself, but this new solution enables the attachment of the screen to the radio remote controller instead.
The remote screen is based on a common mobile device hardware platform with an Android operating system. In practice, this means that any mobile device can be chosen – such as a 7in tablet PC or a mobile phone – to act as the screen. Communication between the drill rig and the remote screen is handled over a WLAN modem that is installed to the drill rig. At this stage, the remote screen provides the operator with three different views: an alignment view for aiming the feed, a drilling view for seeing the drilling parameters and progress of the hole, and a tramming view.
The remote screen option will be available as an optional extra for the Dino DC400Ri in 2016. Currently, the system is being field tested by selected customers who applied for the remote screen beta-test program earlier this year. The aim of the program was to collect feedback and development ideas to further advance the new solution.
Andreas Gundersen was the one of the first to see at first hand the benefits of the latest drill rig technology when his employer, Vestfold Fjellboring AS, bought its first compact Dino DC400Ri rig for a site clearance project beside a fjord in southern Norway.
Within hours of starting to work with the combination of the Dino and the remote screen, Gundersen, an experienced rig operator, was intuitively finding new ways to better perform many of the tasks needing to be done on the busy site. He realized that many tasks could be done in parallel; this included such activities as marking-up the next drill holes, planning and grinding bits, all while the Dino was still drilling. These tasks were accomplished as Gundersen was using the remote small screen to safely monitor the rig’s performance as he continuously moved around. This has enabled even a seasoned operator such as Gundersen more flexibility in choosing how to approach the needs of the job on each shift, securing the most effective and efficient results. These benefits have resulted in overall productivity being demonstrably improved with safety being further enhanced.
“It’s a simple system,” explained Gundersen. “It provides the same information as before, but transferred wirelessly to the screen.
“The challenge for the operator is not about learning how to use this technology, but rather to decide how best to use the time the system has freed. In effect, with so many choices presented by the combination of Dino DC400Ri and its remote screen, there is no need for operators to go deep into technology, but instead to call upon their own practical experience in how best to run a site.”