Why real-time data is vital to your drill and blast operations

Why real-time data is vital to your drill and blast operations

You cannot argue the value of drill and blast data.

Capture that data digitally, and you greatly increase efficiency across your entire drill and blast operations.

But what if you had access to that digital data in real-time? Your drill and blast operations would hit a new level of accuracy and efficiency.

With access to drill and blast data in real-time across your crew, you could greatly increase the accuracy of your loading plans as well as improve communication between everyone in the field and in the office. This helps ensure a safe and successful blast time and time again.

In today’s mining environment, the availability of reliable in-pit wifi networks has made it easier than ever to connect both equipment and personnel while working in the pit. Thus, opening the door to the benefits of real-time digital data.

With improved connectivity and real-time communication of drill and blast data, you will have access to a host of new opportunities to improve your blasting operations.

Benefits of real-time digital drill and blast data

Ability to adapt loading to changing conditions

Throughout the relatively short life of a blast pattern, many things can change. Initial conditions and assumptions used to design a blast can change as actual drilling and blasting activities commence. Blast crews must balance the need to adapt with the need to be accurate.

Enter, charge rules.

Charge rules are a set of digital loading instructions which dictate the amount, and type, of explosive product to be used in the loading plan based upon certain hole properties and conditions. Charge rules make it easy for the engineer to quickly design the loading for a given blast based on various hole properties such as depth, hole type, diameter, etc.

The real-time application of charge rules enables crews to maximise accuracy while still adapting to changing conditions.

Access to real-time digital data allows for automatic updates to the loading instructions in the field based on new information of current hole conditions. For example, as the crew is measuring holes and they record holes with water, the charge rules will automatically update the loading instructions for those holes and change the product type to suit current conditions prior to loading.

Charge rules can assist with countless scenarios you may encounter in the field. Amount of explosives can automatically be adjusted to account for a short hole. Loading instructions for product type will be automatically updated to deal with high temperatures in a hole. Even more complex scenarios can be handled with charge rules and real-time data availability by using certain drill data such as hardness, penetration rate, or other MWD data. This reduces the burden placed upon blast crews for a best guess adjustment to the loading plan and instead ensures proper and accurate loading instructions to deliver your target results.

These changes are done in real-time and communicated to the operator in the powder truck to ensure timely and accurate instructions for loading.

Enhanced communication between crew members

The digital capture of drill and blast data, coupled with real-time connectivity, enables more efficient communication across your entire crew.

As the crew is on bench prepping the blast, they can remain in sync and be informed of progress, updates, and issues. Perhaps two crew members are dipping holes with a third is measuring temperature. All of this data is shared among those on the bench, including operators in the powder trucks. This gives truck operators a live view in the cab of each hole’s status, condition, and loading instructions as they prepare to load the hole.

Engineers and supervisors can follow progress on their own tablet, desktop, or even their smartphone. This is especially beneficial if you need to manage multiple blasts within a single day.

With this enhanced communication, you can move away from reliance on paper and wooden stakes for communicating time-critical plans and instructions for a blast.

Increased safety of drill and blast operations

Yes, real-time digital drill and blast data vastly improves accuracy and communication across your drill and blast operations. But you may be asking yourself…why is that important? Isn’t what I’m doing now working just fine?

In today’s fast-paced mining environment, one thing we can never sacrifice is safety. To keep up with demands of increasing production without compromising safety, we must employ tools that help us move quickly while also maintaining safety across the operation.

Throughout the day at a site, many communication methods are employed to keep things rolling. Face-to-face, radio communication, and communication through phone or text. Real-time data availability augments your existing communication methods by leveraging activities you already perform. Drill and blast actuals are communicated to crew members, supervisors, and stakeholders in real time ensuring that issues and conditions outside of acceptable tolerances are dealt with before they become a problem.

Greater accuracy results in minimising, mitigating, and controlling the inherent risks associated with blasting. Putting the right load down the hole minimises impacts to highwall stability or other mine workings. It controls vibration and avoids over loading holes. It minimises flyrock or fume events.

Having the most up to date information of your blast helps to ensure you have the right load for the right conditions and increases safety across your entire drill and blast process.

Real-time drill and blast data: Greater success for the whole mine

Mining operations are getting faster and more complex each day. Blasting is a crucial component that affects all other activities at the mine. Safe, accurate, and timely execution of blasting activities is critical in the success of downstream operations. Digital capture and real-time communication of blast data can help to ensure your blasting program keeps the mine running.


Interested in learning more? Discover why digital records of your drill and blast data help drive mine efficiency in the first post in this series.

Why real-time data is vital to your drill and blast operations

Jesse Oldham
Product Market Manager
January 22, 2019

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