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Practices around drill and blast operations vary greatly from site to site, particularly when it comes to recording actuals data.
At many sites, actuals data such as hole depth, presence and amount of water, hole temperature, loading, etc. are recorded on paper. At other sites, some of this data may not even be collected.
Maintaining records of your actuals provides a number of benefits for your site. Recording this information helps with everything from design conformance to blast outcome investigations, and even maintaining regulatory compliance.
However, while simply collecting and recording your actuals is crucial, making them digital will enable you to increase efficiency across your entire drill and blast operations.
Collecting actuals data is valuable. But if you collect it on paper, it is likely to just sit in a filing cabinet.
For situations where you need to understand the “why” behind a decision or scenario—why digging is hard at the toe or perhaps investigating a fume event—researching a particular blast can take several days (and usually more) with paper records of drill and blast data.
The digital capture and storage of drill and blast data enables quick access and analysis of blast data as it is stored in a central location. This significantly cuts down investigation time.
Beyond blast investigations, increased data accessibility enables you to apply your learnings to future blasts.
Today, at many mines around the world, drill and blast data from previous blasts is not commonly used to inform future plans and designs. This is primarily due to the practicality of accessing and using paper records within the demanding time constraints of the mine’s operations.
But, not taking advantage of this data is leaving a lot of efficiency (and money) on the bench.
When these records are available and accessible through digital means, engineers and blast crews are able to more readily use this data in their day-to-day processes. For example, you can easily compare a current blast design to the inputs and outputs of a blast on the bench above—allowing you to take similar conditions, such as rock type or water, into account.
Access to digital blast data also allows you better to correlate blasting inputs and blasting outputs.
Unfortunately, for most mine sites, drill and blast data—such as drilling data, loading data, vibration readings, drone footage, and even “digability” and shovel strain data—is heavily siloed as a result of how it is stored.
With data stored digitally in a central location, it becomes a “one-stop-shop” for a given blast’s data. This allows for proper analysis and record keeping. And, even better, with the proper tools the data can be spatially correlated and viewed in 3D, allowing for a deeper level of understanding.
Correlation of drill and blast input and output data is an important step for the continuous improvement of your blasting operations.
When blasting inputs are captured digitally and compared to blasting outputs, engineers and crews are able to correlate certain blast KPIs, such as fragmentation or vibration, back to the blast inputs. This injects your blasting program with actual empirical evidence to improve operations rather than relying solely on anecdotal evidence.
A vital piece of the drill and blast process is follow-on reporting—for both the greater mine operation as well as regulatory requirements. However, across the globe, we hear about how much of a time sink this activity is for site personnel.
With digital records of actuals data there is an opportunity to streamline reporting efforts which will reduce the amount of time blast personnel spend on tedious paperwork-related tasks.
Digitally recording explosive usage, drill actuals, load actuals, shot firing times, etc. can ensure that when data is input and recorded, it is only done once. When a piece of blasting data is input into a digital system, it can be set up to propagate to all the appropriate reports. Thus, eliminating duplicate entry of blast data. Additionally, certain data can be pulled directly from equipment, which eliminates manual entry entirely for that data.
Imagine the added advantage to a blast crew of significantly reduced time spent on paperwork. It enables you to spend more time optimizing for a particular outcome, potentially being able to load and shoot larger patterns, or, most importantly, improving safety by relieving stress placed on blasting crews.
With digitally captured drill and blast data, you can increase efficiency across the entire blasting operation. But, if you want to make the most out of your digital blast data, you need to access this data in real-time.
Stay tuned for our next article where we’ll discuss how to improve your operations by enabling real-time communication of your drill and blast actuals.
Interested in learning more? Contact us to discuss how digital blast data can enhance your blasting operations.
Product Market Manager
January 9, 2019