Epiroc’s automation solutions brings Apatit JSC to new levels
Epiroc’s advanced automation solutions for remote drilling, including Simba Teleremote, ABC Total and the Certiq telematics system were implemented, in 2018, at Apatit JSC’s Kirovsk branch (PhosAgro group). Through the automated solutions, several risks in operators’ jobs were eliminated, output of the drilling machines grew by 20 percent and the utilization of one machine increased to 95 percent.
PhosAgro is the leading producer of mineral phosphate fertilizers in Russia and one of the largest producers in the world. The Kirovsk branch of Apatit JSC (PhosAgro Group) is a closed-circle facility, with operations ranging from ore extraction to the production of apatite concentrate, a raw material used for mineral phosphate fertilizers.
“As the scope of drilling at the mine increases every year, our company has searched for ways to increase productivity, reduce costs and improve work quality. Additionally, we have set a goal to maximize safety levels for drilling machine operators, who have always faced severe working conditions. To achieve this, we decided to move toward automation of the entire drilling process, including the adoption of digital drilling datasheets. Only Epiroc has been able to offer an integrated solution which meets our requirements,” said Andrei Abrashitov, director Apatit JSC Kirovsk branch.
In 2018, Apatit installed Epiroc’s Teleremote options on three Simba production drill rigs, as well as ABC Total and Certiq telematics system for remote control and monitoring of the drilling units at the Kirovsk branch. During the pilot project, a special rig control station was allocated on the surface.
The smart features and the automated platform have been enabled by 6th Sense, the Epiroc way to optimize our customers' value chain through automation, system integration and information management. With 6th Sense comes system connectivity, using interoperability to unlock the full potential of automation for production gains at lower operating costs.
Traditionally, underground production drilling has been performed with special equipment controlled by operators underground at each rig. With the Epiroc solution, the operation of several production drill rigs is controlled by one operator from the above ground control room along with one drill runner underground. The control room operator manages the process with the help of video cameras mounted on the Simba drill rigs. Integrated sensors on the rigs send data to the control dashboard, allowing the operator to monitor performance and status in real time.
“Instead of one machine, the operator now controls six drilling rigs at once from a control station. And starting from Oct.1, the second operator, who is located in the same control station, takes control of four additional drilling rigs. Today, this is the world’s largest teleremote project for production drill rigs” said Artyom Yakovlev, head of production excellence department at Apatit JSC Kirovsk branch.
In addition to the safe working conditions for operators, another advantage of the Epiroc solution is that there is no longer a need to stop the drilling process to remove personnel for ventilation after blasting. Apatit estimates that the implementation of Simba Teleremote has increased the drilling units’ productivity by 20 percent.
Apatit’s Kirovsk branch also implemented Epiroc’s telematic system Certiq to gather, analyze and communicate vital equipment data from the drilling units. With this system, machine utilization data is closely monitored and results for one rig holds values up to 95 percent and more.