Bull’s Eye on Productivity
According to Upp, just a few inches make a difference. This is proven in the straightness of each hole as well. The high wall face shows clear evidence of the straight holes. “We don’t have a lot of back break on the high wall, and a smooth clean wall is left behind,” Upp says. This unplanned surprise also has reduced any safety issues and costs associated with removing hanging rock.
A driller’s perspective
Conco’s driller, Matt Cobb, has years of experience on a rock drill and says he was skeptical at first. “I think I’m like most experienced drillers when I say a person can do better than the computer because I can react to what is going on in the ground,” Cobb says. “And, for a time, I can drill as fast as the computer, but for how long is the question.” He said all drillers will drop a steel on occasion, but the computer never drops steel, shift after shift, day after day.
The automation function frees up the mind too. “When you’re drilling, your mind is always working, ready to react to the changing ground,” Cobb explains. “The computer on this rig allows me to think about other things and relax a bit.”
Cobb says the computer also allows him to multi-task while the drill is in operation. Once he starts the drill in auto-drill, he can leave the cab and check holes for blockage and place cones over open holes.
When the rig first arrived, Cobb ran two drills side-by-side to see if he could keep the same pace as the unit. Cobb would set up with the new rig, start auto drilling, and jump in the older Atlas Copco ROC 848 to drill a hole manually. When the new rig was finished, it would sit and wait for him to move it to the next location. He would then do the process again. “It’s not something I’d want to do for a long period of time, but it got me caught up,” Cobb says.
He says he especially likes the GPS system on the new rig. To set up the pattern, the first hole and last hole is set, and a computer extrapolates the rest. A memory stick transfers the information to the rig’s computer, and the operator just follows the screen.
“I match up the bull’s-eye on the screen with the transmitter on top of the feed, the computer tells me it’s straight or if I need to make adjustments,” Cobb says.
There are many subtle benefits as well. Because of elevation changes in the quarry, Upp said the drill has allowed the operation to flatten out benches. And because the hammer adjusts with a split second to the ground conditions, it is more efficient and less stressed. The computer also monitors maintenance schedules to keep the rig running at peak performance.