Human Aspects of Automation: A Diamond Drill Case Study

CIM Vancouver 2002
Richard E Ross,
Abstract Over the past 10 years, lower ore grades and deepening mine environments have demanded that mining companies develop new technologies (tools and processes) to ensure a mines economic sustainability. At Inco Ltd., this demand has lead to the focus of technological development within the area of automation.

Delineation (Drilling and Interpretation) is a key step in the determination of ore grade and location and therefore was chosen as a priority area for enhancement through automation. Focusing on the tools (the diamond drill) automation, significant benefits have been consistently achieved in terms of productivity, process efficiency, operational safety, cost reduction, component life cycles and machine reliability. It is suggested that optimum benefits have yet to be achieved, and will not be achieved until the human aspects of automation have been properly addressed. Since project inception the human aspects of automation were recognized as critical to the success of the diamond drill automation project. However, it was only upon the installation of the Automated Diamond Drill in the field and its continued use on a daily basis that this issue received due attention.

The human aspects of automation can be broadly addressed as economic, physical and psychological. This paper, with examples from the field, will discuss the human aspects of automation in each of these areas. The paper will draw from observations and experiences acquired throughout this project and recommend implementation strategies that should be utilized in future automation projects to enhance both the acceptance of automation and the success of the automated process itself.
Keywords: Diamond drilling, Physical Impacts, Psychological Impacts, Automation, Economic Impacts
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