Maptek helps relieve quarry survey pressure

When Andrew Beardsley from Oakes Survey approached me and asked for our help to better understand changes in quarry structures, I knew Maptek had the technology – we just needed to work out the right way to apply it.

After some discussion, we realised we could try a new approach using the Maptek I-Site 8800 long-range laser scanner and I-Site Studio software to monitor quarry rock faces that would give them the results they were after.

The result is a new approach to analysing rock faces and structures that is safe, cost-effective and accurate. The bonus is that Oakes Survey can roll it out to help other sites.

We put our theory to the test in a quarry in Leicestershire which has been operating for 70 years. Weathering of the higher benches meant that surfaces were less stable, with potential for rock falls. By giving management accurate data that would better indicate the source of the break-offs, they could also ensure safer working conditions.They could soon see that it would make their planning more efficient with safer face monitoring to boot.

We visited 5 times over 18 months to survey the quarry face. We captured the data with the I-Site 8800 laser scanner and created layered panels of the quarry walls in I-Site Studio software. This is where the surface change analysis tool came into play to compare segments or break-offs over time. By using different colours to define variations, we could easily pinpoint changes to the rock face of less than 0.5m. This gave the staff at the quarry a greater understanding of how the walls are changing over time and allowed for greater accuracy in the placement of berms.

Quarry management now has highly accurate topographic data that reflects the true state and shape of the walls and benches. This is a great improvement on the standard generic models that were being used to predict or avoid rock falls. Using Maptek technology allows the operators to easily visualise critical failures, avoiding the risk of potentially costly and unsafe rocks falls.

Of course, the bottom line is a positive effect on productivity! And Oakes survey can use their expertise to roll out this approach at other operations.

Graeme Cowie

June 4, 2012

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