Sandvik has released a new Dual Controls package to improve fleet optimisation, versatility and performance for its leading DD422i and DD422iE face drills. The Dual Controls package was designed to address a wide range of needs identified by mining contractors who are currently using development drills for a variety of tasks, including boring, bolting and meshing.

This option combines better drilling intelligence with readiness to sustain rough, multi-task usage. Development of the Dual Controls concept was carried out in close cooperation with Byrnecut, a leading global mining contractor.

“Sandvik approached us to give feedback on the development of the machine, which we were happy to do,” says Pat Boniwell, managing director of Byrnecut Australia. “Our key operators, trainers and technical people were involved in that process.”

Johannes Välivaara, product manager for underground development drills at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, explains that many Sandvik customers, particularly mining contractors, have been using conventional DD421 hydraulic controlled jumbos side-by-side with intelligent DD422i and DD422iE drill rigs.

“In this arrangement, the hydraulic drills are used for required ground support work, whereas intelligent drills are used for boring purposes, delivering long and accurate rounds with minimised overbreak,” he says. “Combined with Sandvik automation, the intelligent drills can maintain production even during shift changes.

“We wanted to challenge this paradigm with the new DD422i Dual Controls package in order to make it a preferable option vis-à-vis traditional hydraulic controlled drills, allowing a single platform like the DD422i or DD422iE to be used for multiple and different applications.”

To this end, Sandvik partnered with Byrnecut Australia to design what the company considers to be the revolutionary solution required to address the challenging and wide-ranging needs of mining contractors for optimising their drill rig fleets.

Key features and requirements of Dual Controls

“Operator safety and usability was the main focus of the design, as this is particularly important within multi-task operations, where the operator needs be comfortable in using the machine for both ground support and standard face drilling purposes,” Välivaara says. “We took our newest cabin design as a benchmark and analysed what changes were required to the drilling controls to make it a preferable option over the DD421.”

These changes, combined with drastically reduced noise levels, improved drilling visibility and several other improvements, capitalise on the best features of the Sandvik DD421, DD422i and DD422iE rigs.

“The torque drilling control system has proven its performance in providing the best possible drilling productivity while simultaneously reducing the costs of drilling consumables,” Välivaara says. “We wanted to make these benefits available for the ground support applications as well.

“The SB60 booms, combined with Sandvik split feeds, have long been the industry preference, particularly in Australian mining applications. This configuration allows us to provide both drilling intelligence and robustness packaged seamlessly together.”

A single platform for different drilling applications offers several other benefits, including increased commonalities in spare parts, service principles and general ease of use across the whole fleet.

“With the updated DD422i package options, our customers can choose from multiple specifications to suit their application needs,” Välivaara says. “This includes the Platinum option with long fixed feeds, with capabilities for full face drilling automation, and the new Dual Controls with split feeds, for manual multi-task operations. This provides modular options for the boom and drilling assemblies, whilst the carrier and cabin remain standardised.”

The new unit also comes with a battery-electric driveline as an option for improving sustainability.

“We launched the industry’s first highly intelligent mining jumbo with electric driveline system and since then, these units have performed in multiple mine operations globally,” Välivaara says. “Combining this technology with the Dual Controls package creates a truly viable diesel alternative.”

On-site product development and testing of Dual Controls

Development work for the Dual Controls package, including a usability study in Australia, was done in close cooperation between Sandvik experts and Byrnecut Australia. The combined team tested various drilling controls and concepts in a virtual simulator. This allowed the design process to be highly iterative, enabling new ideas to be easily implemented and validated before beginning the construction of the first prototype unit.

Once the prototype had been tested extensively at the Sandvik test mine in Tampere, Finland, it was shipped to Australia to validate its performance in real mine conditions and operations.

“The first Sandvik DD422i Dual Controls unit was field-tested at the Jundee gold mine in Western Australia in close cooperation with Byrnecut,” Välivaara says. “We wanted to compare its performance within true multi-task operations against the DD421.”

The Dual Controls package tests were completed in four months with impressive results.

“We’re seeing approximately 10% improvement in productivity and nearly 20% improvement on drill consumable costs,” Boniwell says. “The operators really like the upgraded platform; everything from the improved cab ergonomics, sound reduction and general comfort of the machine.

“They’ve got all the benefits they’ve had historically in terms of usability, with the added benefits of improved drill control and future potential automation sequences.”

“One of the best things to come out of the trial has been the interaction between the two parties,” Boniwell says. “The operators can see that their feedback has directly resulted in changes to the machine, which has gone a long way in making the operator acceptance almost seamless.”