Manage communication and transfer data during geological surveys in tough underground and surface-mining environments.
Deploy powerful, military-standard, rugged Algiz tablets to collect and process data fast.
Real-time decision making and efficient use of resources, thanks to some of the world’s most reliable mobile technology.
Drilling crews need technology that provides geo-location data, has hot-swap batteries, and connects to the web to transmit field data.
When you’re drilling into materials so tough you have to cut through them with actual diamonds, well, roughing up your equipment is just part of the job. Mining means contending with hard surfaces. It also guarantees particle-filled air, a host of weather elements and every light condition from total darkness to bright sunlight.
Factor in huge, constantly vibrating, water- and dust-producing machinery, and let’s just say you have yourself a cocktail of hazards most people wouldn’t dream of introducing a lightweight tablet computer into.
But James Hunter, the savvy Technical Director of Axis Mining Technology, isn’t “most people” — and neither is the Algiz 8X an ordinary tablet.
When Hunter started his search for the ideal lightweight tablet to include with Axis Mining Technology’s Champ Gyro geological surveying solution, his list of requirements was intimidating:
“Drilling crews need technology that operates survey equipment, that provides geo-location data, that connects to the web to transmit data collected in the field,” Hunter says. “The tablet needs to be at the drill site all the time, and if it’s not possible to charge it, then being able to hot-swap batteries is important. All that has to happen in a tough mining environment, with minimal breakages and downtime. And preferably, they should be repairable to lower total cost of ownership.”
So, to summarize: an all-in-one surveying field controller, GIS unit, data collector and communication device that stays charged, handles rough environments, and can be repaired rather than replaced? Whew. Thankfully for Axis, this tall order wasn’t too tall for Handheld.
We’ll get to the resolution, but first, let’s rewind. The details are worth digging into.
Drilling crews survey, pull and analyze core for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they’re looking for certain minerals and natural resources, and they need to know if their drilling trajectory will hit the right stuff. Other times, they’re assaying mineral composition for signs of health and structural integrity.
“They’re using diamond-core or reverse-circulation drilling, which involves drilling to a depth, then performing a gyroscopic survey of the drill hole with one of our specialized Champ Gyro tools,” Hunter explains.
Diamond-core and reverse-circulation drilling both involve pulling and analyzing samples. Diamond-core rods contain embedded — you guessed it — diamonds, allowing rigs to drill through Earth’s most solid substances and pull up intact core. RC drilling is faster but less precise, quickly producing core chips for analysis when they’re all that’s needed.
Advances in technology have made this process vastly more efficient in recent years. Yet even with powerful rigs, the strongest drill rods and the latest in underground surveying technology, a drilling crew’s success or failure can all hinge on timing: Too many delays, and you have huge, expensive machinery wasting time and energy, plus crews, managers and site geologists waiting around for next steps while they’re on the clock.
That’s why the winning tablet needed not only to be a powerhouse field controller, data collector and communication device, but also a reliable one — because even if a solution’s functionalities are a go, they’re only actually functional if they don’t lose power or break in the middle of a job, right?
Enter Algiz 8X: the IP65-rated, U.S. military-standard-tested rugged tablet that stays charged and operable (and has a hot-swappable battery, just in case).
Here’s how the Algiz rugged tablets and Champ Gyro tools work together:
Drilling crews load the Champ Gyro gyroscopic survey tool into a drill rod that’s connected to a wireline winch with a depth counter. The tool and the depth counter both pair over BT with the Algiz tablet, which is running proprietary Champ Gyro software.
As the tool is run into the hole, it measures the wireline from the winch and sends depth information back to the tablet. Crews then perform a survey to collect depth, inclination and azimuth data at chosen points in the drill hole.
“The drill hole needs to be directed to a predetermined subsurface target coordinate to be of value,” Hunter explains.
Surveys can be conducted at multiple depths along the same hole; then, the survey tool is retrieved to the surface. The Champ Gyro software processes the data and displays it to the driller on the tablet screen. From here, the driller uploads this data to Axis’ onSite cloud platform for review by a site geologist.
With the Algiz rugged tablet handling communication and data transfer, Hunter says, the geologist can review the data and report back to the site crew with mission-critical decisions and instructions in as little as a few minutes.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as, has the drill hole reached the desired target depth? Has it reached the right dip, inclination or subsurface coordinates? If so, the geologist might direct the crew to stop drilling and prepare for the next hole.”
Other times, it’s more complicated: “If a correction needs to be made to the hole to move it back on course, that involves directional drilling and special drilling equipment and techniques, like a directional motor or downhole wedge.”
By integrating communications capabilities in surveying systems and running them through ultra-rugged tablet technology, communication between crews and site managers becomes nearly seamless. This virtually eliminates unnecessary downtime, helping mining operators make the best use of their personnel, tools and resources.
The Champ Gyro carry-box’s foam padding holds drill rods and slimline overshot assembly gear. Next to these is packed the Algiz rugged Windows tablet.
It turns out that rugged, dirty, greasy, wet and humid environment is no match for Handheld tablets. “The tablets get a lot of abuse, but they handle it quite well,” Hunter reports. If and when repairs are necessary, Axis can actually have them repaired instead of having to replace them, because Handheld is committed to making durable, repairable devices that decrease both total cost of ownership and environmental cost of ownership.
And the up-front cost? Not bad, either. “The initial investment is very competitive compared to other major brands,” Hunter says.