Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2016-JAN 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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12 unmanned systems inside   December 2016/January 2017 AIR MINING or once a day—helping mine operators make better business decisions. "For us the biggest benef it we realized so far is the stockpile volumes," Allen said. "At most of our mines we don't have enough available space to have separate stockpiles for different ore, so we need to know which ore is in each pile. The mill has to know what we're sending so they can process it appro- priately. If we get it wrong, it reduces our return on gold and that costs us money. A 3-D model of a stockpile is extremely useful and it's much faster than conventional sur- vey techniques." It's also more accurate. When people take the measurements by hand with a laser scan- ner, which is what his team used to do, they can't account for irregularities on the top sur- face because they can't see them, Allen said. UAS look down on the piles, so they can see depression caves and undercuts—giving mine operators more accurate volumes. And of course there's the benefit of cost. Laser scan- ners typically used for this kind of work tend to run about $180,000, he said, while he can buy a drone for about $20,000 and f ly it without disrupting operations. Monitoring and Mapping Stockpile measurement might be the most common use for drones in the mining industry, but other uses are gaining traction—especially monitoring. The topography of open pit mines is con- stantly evolving and drones offer a good way to keep track of those changes, said Lorenzo Martelletti, sales and marketing director for Pix4D, the company that developed the Pix4D Mapper Pro to turn the data drones collect into 3-D models, ortho mosaics and other as- sets. One of the typical monitoring uses is pre- and post-blast analysis. Before a blast, it's important to make sure drill holes are aligned and that no one is in the area, Airobotics CEO and co-founder Ran Krauss said during a mining talk at the UAV Commercial Expo in November. Workers can then look at the 3-D model created after the blast to ensure they achieved their objective. It also gives them an updated map of the mine after the blast. Pix4D recently worked with clients in Ohio and West Virginia who deployed UAS for stockpile measurement and blast monitoring, Martelletti said. They wanted to find a way to make various processes safer, so they f lew a DJI Inspire 1 and a Phantom 2 Vision Plus over stockyards, capturing images at a 45-meter al- titude to achieve a 2 cm ground sampling dis- tance (GSD). The 3-D model of a blast bench created from those f lights was combined with data from a borehole tracking system to iden- tify areas of weakness and over-confinement. The results and spatial information collected will be used for later analysis, engineering ap- plications of potential post-accident compari- sons, and historical records. Allen also relies on UAS to monitor large construction projects, he said. Before, if they brought in a contractor to rebuild a storage facility, for example, they'd just have to accept his progress report because they had no way of actually monitoring what he was doing. Sharing Data With the Kespry UAS, all the data captured goes directly to the cloud to give everyone access to the information—which is especially useful for companies with multiple mine locations. "This helps with logistics and helps management understand where the business is," Kespry's VP of Marketing David Shearer said. "It also allows people to get accurate, reliable measurements on a frequent basis. Instead of taking two days to capture a single quarry's data, it's done in 10 minutes. The person who performs these tasks gets two days of their time back, which helps with the productivity and efficiency of the business." "EVERYTHING IT DOES it does better than I could do and faster than I could do. And it takes me out of harm's way. It has changed my working life a great deal. I've reached an age where the physicality of it was about to get beyond me. The drone allows me to continue doing something I love to do." John Davenport of Madison Materials and Whitaker Contracting The Kespry drone helps mines improve safety as well as efficiencies.

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