From Earth Orbit to Drill Bit:A View for Integrated,Location-Aware Mining Operations

At the Map World Forum in Hyderabad,Martin Nix of Leica Geosystems presented a vision for a true top (think GPS satellite) to bottom (think drill hole) vision of location-aware mining operations. Certainly,GPS solutions for vehicle location tracking have been widely used in mines before but Leica?s vision is to develop an entirely integrated approach that involves highly precise positioning from drill hole navigation and operation to vehicle telematics. A key driver of implementing these new systems is safety as well as improving machine operator efficiency and fleet management. Nix commented that providing visual information to both dispatchers and vehicle operators increases awareness of all aspects of mine operations and empowers all workers with much needed information. Both in the operations center and in the vehicle cockpit,maps and the location other vehicles in the mine can be displayed along with machine diagnostics. Nix explained that centimeter-accurate positioning for mining will avoid digging and drilling too far or not far enough in addition to reducing material loss. So precise and sensitive are these new tools that it will help determine rock type in order to guide drill bit usage and power. How close is Leica to delivering this vision? Nix explains that remote diagnostics is already in place. However,work needs to be done is the use of imagery to be used in real time. More collaboration with suppliers and more work on technology are needed,but incrementally there are many parts available now.

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