Experiences from an IREDES prototype project - Production drilling with Atlas Copco's Simba L6C drill rig at LKAB Kiruna mine
The International Rock Excavation Data Exchange Standard (IREDES) initiative and organization was launched during MineExpo 2000 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. IREDES sets the global standard for data exchange between equipment used for rock excavation and equipment users involved in the rock excavation process.
Companies from the mining industry, together with Atlas Copco and LKAB Kiruna mine, were the founders of IREDES. Today, the organization has close to twenty member companies, all of them involved in defining different standards for data exchange.
Since the inception of IREDES, the Special Interest Group (SIG) drill rigs has been particularly active with close to ten member companies; one of the authors, Mikael Ramström, is its chairman. SIG drill rigs is responsible for maintaining the standards for data exchange between drill rigs and users in the rock excavation process.
Within SIG drill rigs, a project group was formed by Atlas Copco and LKAB in Sweden. The project involved introducing the IREDES standard into the LKAB planning system for production drilling using the new Atlas Copco Simba L6C production drill rig.
The purpose of the project was to verify the functionality of the IREDES frame in terms of a full-scale production drilling and production result evaluation. The goal was to obtain operational experience using IREDES digital drill plans, transmitting IREDES XML drill plans over standard Ethernet/TCPIP network with WLAN technology, and in all aspects, verify functionality of the drill rig.
The IREDES format was obtained by converting the existing data from the LKAB block model database by reading out planning data from existing block models and converting it to IREDES file format. Downloading the drill plan from the database to the drill rig is done either by PC card or through a data network (Ethernet/TCPIP). The IREDES file includes site header information about the area such as level, cross cut, and blasthole ring. The drill rig operator can then easily select a drill plan according to the drill rig position in the mine. During production drilling, the drill machine’s performance is then logged and stored in files in IREDES format.
The Simba L6C, a large production drill rig with a COP 4050 rock drill, was chosen for the LKAB-Atlas Copco IREDES prototyping project. Based on IREDES guidelines for prototyping projects released in May 2002, designing of the built-in support for IREDES began.
During the project, the following IREDES data sets where implemented on the Simba L6 C: drill plan import and export; quality log export; and MWD log export (compact version).
Operator experience shows that IREDES itself does not change anything in the operating procedure, however, on the technical side, IREDES XML format opens up many standard Windows programs to interpret data. The mine staff can then use a standard software package to interpret the data in terms of production results, maintenance evaluations, etc. without the need to develop unique technical solutions.
LKAB’s technical development vision is to have machine and instrument manufacturers delivering equipment with standardized data interfaces supporting modern network and application technology, such as Ethernet and Internet. With standardized methods of accessing the production equipment and systems in the mine, added values in the mine process will be explored. Through those added values, the mine process can be developed in terms of both profit and safety.
Atlas Copco’s vision is to use IREDES to develop products that support customers searching for industrial standards in quality drilling and monitoring. By participating as an active partner in the ongoing standardization work in the mining industry, Atlas Copco hopes to increase the market for intelligent products. By being an industrial standard, IREDES will make intelligent products available, at low risk, for small and medium size mining companies.
The result from the prototyping project is in support of the approval of the “IREDES profile for data exchange between drill rigs and users in the rock excavation process.” The project has verified that implementation of the drill rig profile in an underground mining process is possible and that all vital parameters and more are included in the profile.