As labor costs continue to rise and safety regulations become ever more demanding, quarrying companies are meeting the challenges through increased mechanization.
Shandong Xuwang Mining Co., LTD, based in Zibo Shangdong, China, which focuses on the production and sales of aggregate and gravel, is a typical example. The company’s previous drilling fleet initially consisted of simple frame drills which later evolved into semi-hydraulic rigs. Then, when the company decided to cooperate with drilling contractor Shandong Yichang Resource Recycling and Utilizing Development Co., LTD, two Atlas Copco PowerROC D45 rigs were introduced at the site. This decision was preceded by an analysis of the quarry’s status and operational costs.
The Zibo Shangdong quarry has a complex geological structure consisting of extremely fissured rock with a hardness ranging from soft to medium. Due to these factors, the DTH (Down-The-Hole) PowerROC D45 surface drill rig was considered to be the most suitable rig for the applications.
Since they were commissioned in July 2015, the two PowerROC D45 rigs have more than lived up to expectations. Compared to the quarry’s previous semi-hydraulic equipment, they have delivered outstanding results in terms of reliability, productivity and fuel efficiency.
Drilling 115 mm diameter holes, the rigs achieve an average penetration rate of 28 m/h, while fuel consumption is around 32 l/h.
“We have used all the old drill machines such as frame drills and semi-hydraulic drills, and now we are using the PowerROC D45,” says Guangxu Xu, Site Manager at Xuwang. “Previously, four operators were required for one frame drill and two operators for the semi-hydraulic rigs. Now, with the PowerROC D45, only one operator is needed for each rig which has greatly reduced our labor costs.
“Furthermore, fewer operators means fewer safety risks, especially considering that personal safety is becoming a critical norm in this industry.”
The PowerROC D45 rigs are operated round-the-clock (3 shifts per day, 8 hours per shift), interrupted only for scheduled maintenance. This places high demands on the machines’ availability.
"Each machine has been running for around 1 000 engine hours and so far we haven’t had any critical problems,” says Yuxi Zhang, Project Manager for Yichang. “If we get any issues that we think may affect the production, a simple phone call will help us solve the problem. “
Zhang says he especially appreciates the low failure rate of the PowerROC 45 as well as its versatility. “Moreover, a lot of time can be saved since the machines can easily tram from one location to another and we no longer have to handle the rods manually. Together, these factors have greatly improved our efficiency as well as safety on the site.”
Pointing to the company’s previous fleet which has been sidelined, he adds: “As you can see, the old rigs have almost been idle since we started using the two PowerROC D45 rigs.”
In conclusion, Guangxu Xu points out that environmental protection is another important topic that currently gets high priority in the quarrying industry. “The old drilling method produced too much air pollution, but now, if we look at the jobsite, we can see that the dust is effectively suppressed,” he says.
“This improvement is notable not only for the environment itself but also for our operators. They sit in the cab and manipulate the levers and buttons for rod-changing, drilling and tramming without being exposed to the dust. A happy and healthy operator is our biggest asset!”