Orica has a vision to transform how drill and blast is used to unlock mining value, utilising digital and automated technologies to create safer, and more productive blast outcomes for customers.  

At the core of this vision is the digital transformation of the blasting process, where rock recognition informs intelligent and dynamic blasting to deliver predictable and consistent outcomes.

The downstream impact of variable and poorly controlled blast outcomes today impact as much as 80% of the ‘total cost of operation’ of a mine.

This presents an enormous opportunity to deliver value to the industry with intelligent, data-driven blasting optimisation technology.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 1, 2019

Orica has released its next generation BlastIQ Platform, its latest version of a cloud-based platform designed specifically to optimise blasting outcomes by integrating data and insights from digitally connected technologies at every stage of the drill and blast process, driving continuous improvement for customers.

Orica chief commercial officer, Angus Melbourne, describes how Orica is leading the digital blasting transformation with its next generation BlastIQ Platform, saying:

“Orica is uniquely positioned to unlock the value that digitally enabled blasting can deliver to the global mining industry. Building on more than 140 years of experience and innovation in blasting, we have enhanced our ability to deliver value for customers by adding world-class digital expertise and solutions to our existing suite of market-leading products and services.”

“The BlastIQ Platform will enhance blast performance and outcomes for customers by seamlessly connecting data related to the entire drill and blast process under a single platform, linking geoscientific, blast modelling and design data with measured field operations data, optimised blast delivery and advanced learning for continuous improvement.”

A complete blast control solution, enabled by BlastIQ delivers sustainable improvements that reduces the overall cost of drill and blast operations by eliminating rework, excess drilling and explosives consumption.

It also enables greater productivity through autonomous and seamless data transfer between blast engineers and field crews, and facilitates regulatory compliance.

The information management component of the platform allows blast engineers to collate data from across the drill and blast process into a secure, centralised online location to speed up planning, analysis and auditing of blast data to meet regulatory requirements.

Optimised blast designs are developed using Orica’s market-leading SHOTPlus 3D design software. SHOTPlus, which has proven capability to manage simple and complex blast designs, integrates seamlessly with the BlastIQ Platform, allowing blast loading instructions and rules to be communicated to the field to ensure the right explosives are used in the right place and initiated at the right time, every time.

Improved in-field blast quality control and assurance is achieved using the new BlastIQ mobile device, enabling the efficient capture of auditable data direct from the bench.

Blast hole condition data is captured with the BlastIQ mobile device in real-time, allowing data to be shared between operations and engineering personnel from anywhere on-site, empowering rapid decision making and better operational efficiencies.

In a world-first for the industry, accuracy and efficiency of explosives delivery is significantly enhanced through the new BlastIQ enabled delivery system, with loading and delivery to design now fully integrated.

Orica’s mobile manufacturing unit (MMU) delivery system, Bulkmaster 7, can be integrated into BlastIQ to wirelessly receive blast designs updated with near real-time blast hole quality data, while on bench.

Using this data, Orica’s delivery systems load the correct explosive type and quantity according to the original design, adjusted based on blast hole condition measurement and the automated application of a defined set of rules managed by the drill and blast engineer.

This unique, direct integration with the delivery control system automates process control, thereby eliminating interpretation and product selection errors, and reduces overall loading times.

Where a BlastIQ enabled delivery system is not available, a BlastIQ mobile device can be used to capture and record as-loaded data during the delivery process, with the system still updating instruction to the delivery system operator based on updated processing of design and in-field hole condition measurement that precedes loading.

Rounding out the BlastIQcontrol solution is the powerful insights and analytics engine incorporated into the BlastIQ platform.

Data is presented visually to the various users, delivering insights and analytics to help the drill and blast team seamlessly measure and manage key blasting KPIs, thereby providing them the tool to improving blasting outcomes.

In addition to the new functionality and enhanced user experience in the next generation BlastIQ Platform, a comprehensive training, support and customer success programme is being introduced.

The programme aims to tailor each BlastIQ implementation specific to a customer’s needs, increasing the speed of the implementation and importantly, maximising customer’s productivity, cost reduction and regulatory compliance.

Following sustained use at a selection of key pilot sites around the world, the next generation BlastIQ Platform was officially released to the market in October 2018.

Multilingual support was added at the end of the year, as well as the addition of enhanced functionality to support vibration control and optimal fragmentation, by integrating third party drilling and fragmentation data as well as predictive modelling to deliver even greater blast control.

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