Sandvik Introduces the New Digital Driller to Safely Train Underground Drill Operators

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology are introducing a new version of its operator training simulator to safely train underground drill operators or maintenance teams. The new Digital Driller family – which now includes the DS422i – provides advanced simulator training having been designed specifically to improve both operator and drilling performance, delivering real benefits for underground operations.

This new version features the very latest developments in underground drilling simulation to provide low weight, a safe training tool that is highly portable, enabling it to be used where it is most needed – on site.

The Digital Driller family has been developed to improve performance in the mining and tunneling underground hard rock drilling. It is purpose-designed to simulate the operation of a real rig – specifically the DD422i/iE, DT922i, DL432i, DL421, and now the DS422i – using the same control system software as found on the Sandvik drills. It provides comprehensive technical training, enabling the development and refreshing of operator skills, whilst enabling operators to develop progressively. This ranges from the skills required by the novice operator to conducting the entire drilling cycle, with all the versions of Digital Driller being fully integrated with Sandvik’s iSURE software – a tunnel and drill plan management tool for accurate drilling, charging, and blasting.

Digital Driller significantly reduces the drill start-up period through ensuring that rig operators are fully familiar with the features and the capabilities of the relevant Sandvik rig from day one. This produces a shorter transition to using the real equipment resulting in quicker familiarization, improved efficiency, and productivity. Additionally, as training is simulated, there is no risk of equipment damage, zero consumption of rock tools and fuel, zero emissions, and no exposure of the trainees to risk when becoming familiar with a new drill rig.

With its compact, small size, the Digital Driller and its wheeled carrying case are easily transported by a single person anywhere it is needed. It is designed to deliver training in a simulated working environment with drill rig operators and maintenance teams learning about drill rig capabilities before moving onto the actual equipment. With a very short set-up time, the operator training can begin even before the rig has been delivered and commissioned, providing increased levels of operational efficiency, with no learning curve having to be gone through prior to using the rig on site.

Digital Driller provides three levels of drill rig operator ability training, namely Drillmaster, Professional, and Beginner. This means that through using Digital Driller, a trainee is able to progressively learn to use all functions of the drill rig and to set parameters of the control system, accurately controlling the boom in a pre-defined plan. As the trainee progresses, other tasks are added, such as marking and setting angles and drilling start points as well as drill hole collaring in varying start positions. Furthermore, the trainee is shown how to navigate the rig to match the drill plan using navigation tools and drill in varying rock conditions, use different cable bolting processes – such as cement or grouting – and undertake cable installation. The Digital Driller has also been designed to assist in safe daily maintenance and to manage other customer-specific applications/functions.

Digital Driller comes with purpose-developed software that includes a range of specific operator exercises for recording and measuring operator behavior. This means that the trainer is able to initiate machine faults, incidents, or hazards in order to train and assess operators thereby ensuring they are able to respond correctly to any scenarios for maximum efficiency. Additionally, training sessions can be conducted for multiple participants, keeping them away from any risk of injury, or material damages.  In order to evaluate and measure trainee performance, a report on operator development ensures that the ongoing training undertaken will directly benefit operators when learning how to use the full array of features on the drill. Training exercise results are measured against time, accuracy, and various parameters such as optimal feed/rotation pressure, percussion, and flushing.

Digital Driller significantly reduces the drill start-up period through ensuring that rig operators are fully familiar with the features and the capabilities of the relevant Sandvik rig from day one.

Optimized operational performance

Digital Driller ensures that operators can use the drill rig to its full potential as safely and productively as possible, as quickly as possible. Thanks to the training course management tool, the trainer is able to customize training as well as use the multiple pre-planned training scenarios to build tailor-made learning sessions. This ensures that 100% of peace of mind is delivered, enabling the undertaking of training routines and exercises that can be repeated until the appropriate level of knowledge is reached.

The use of the Digital Driller provides the highest levels of flexibility and is estimated to produce a 5% increase in annual productivity due to increased rig availability alone. In addition, training costs are reduced by up to 35%. Digital Driller achieves these results through developing operator knowledge and the ability to use rig features in an optimal way as well as through teaching maintenance teams basic drilling operations. All trainees learn to understand the advanced diagnostics of the rig whilst avoiding the risk of rig damage which further reduces any negative environmental impact. Additionally, training costs are reduced – no rock tools or fuel consumed – with training sessions being easily conducted wherever training is required.'
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