Autonomous drilling delivers benefits across the mining operation
Accurate drilling and blasting helps make every other aspect of a mining operation smoother, safer and more productive. Even minor deviations from the pattern can have a big impact, with unevenly blasted material that is harder and more costly to handle, resulting in higher cost per ton for the entire operation.
With high precision and more accurate depth tracking, autonomous drills can work far more accurately to plan. That means more accurate blasting and better-shot material, less time spent removing overburden, and higher productivity.
Most importantly, an autonomous drill removes operators from the dust, vibration and other hazardous conditions that surround a working drill — and keeps them safely away from blasting areas. No operator is safer than one who is overseeing the machine from a comfortable location far from the hazards the machine itself faces.
The newest generation of Cat® drills offers all of the benefits of autonomy, starting with the release of the new Cat MD6250.
The MD6250 comes with a number of standard automated functions that help an operator drill more accurately, with simple controls and touchscreen monitors that allow for easy operation.
With the addition of Cat Command for drilling, the MD6250 is capable of drilling in autonomous mode. An operator seated at a remote station designed to mimic the drill’s cab can control up to three drills at the same time, programming them to drill single rows autonomously.
This means that a single operator can drill multiple single-row missions with a high level of accuracy – without ever leaving the safety and comfort of the remote station.
“The MD6250 is built with 100 percent Cat parts, technologies and electronics,” said Caterpillar Product Manager Mark Vannette. “It has the reliability and support our customers are used to with Cat products, and it delivers the technologies they expect to make their drilling operations successful.”
When the drill is not being operated autonomously, operators sit in a safe and comfortable cab, with ergonomic seating and controls and excellent visibility. An improved HVAC system helps keep them comfortable and reduces exposure to dust.
Caterpillar recently unveiled the MD6250 at an event at its drills production facility in Texas. More than 100 Cat dealers and customers spent three days at the facility, where they saw the first MD6250 off the line and learned more about the drill and how it can impact their operations.
In addition to the factory tour, attendees were given the opportunity to examine the MD6250’s major components, as well as attend classroom sessions about the individual features of the machine. The event also included an autonomy demonstration where audience members were trained and allowed to launch autonomous missions themselves.