In recent times, we have seen a steady shift towards full or partial automation in underground mines. Mining automation is mostly focussed on three areas: process, control and analysis software, and equipment, e.g. the use of autonomous or semi-autonomous LHDs.
Automation can improve mining productivity as machines are more accurately controlled and operated, and shift change delays are reduced or eliminated, etc. Safety is also enhanced due to better situational awareness and other warning systems and simply because some of the manpower is removed from the underground environment.
Another area of underground mining that benefits from automation is information gathering– for example, data collected for convergence monitoring purposes. By reducing the amount of time it takes to gather and process data, automated convergence monitoring can help miners spot potential safety hazards faster, allowing them to make better decisions faster. This improved awareness and responsiveness can have a massive impact on overall mine safety. A mine overseen by people with real-time accurate information and supported by automated control systems runs more efficiently and safely.
Of course, knowing the “why” of automated convergence monitoring is important, and the benefits speak for themselves, but what about the “how”, the way in which the data is collected? This is less complicated than it might seem – simply make use of the uGPS Rapid Mapper™ underground laser (LiDAR) scanner in your mine. This innovative, purpose-built device generates dense, accurate 3D point cloud data while on the move (e.g. attached to an ATV or another mine vehicle), delivering crisp, detailed data sets to engineers quickly and efficiently.