3D Drilling Systems - Features & Benefits

Heavy equipment such as dozers, graders and excavators sculpt and grade a site to an engineers design specs. But in many cases their work is made possible by drills. Drills play an important role from highway construction to mining and their contribution is critical for the downstream performance of other heavy equipment and overall productivity.

GPS 3D machine control enhances and assists drillers by offering guidance to find the precise location of a hole, whether designed in the office or in the field, thereby substantially reducing the margin of error. “In drilling today, quality is the goal,” says Mats Birkestål, Marketing and Design, Transtronic AB of Sweden. “Position and drilling to correct depth has always been a challenge. GPS positioning greatly assists with this issue. Many companies are already using GPS on other machines so they are asking for a GPS drilling system. It is the obvious next step.”

Configurations will vary depending on the type of drilling and the application. For example, there are crawler drills, vertical drills, angle drills and a LoDrill that attaches to an excavator offering almost any articulation and hole approach. But generally, a 3D drilling system consists of the following key components:
Key Components
A rugged control box computer usually touchscreen
Drilling centric application software
Axial Sensors that may include boom articulation sensor and/or dual axis sensor,
Encoder with transducer
Transducer for hammering signal
Hydraulic pressure switch
One or two GNSS receivers and antennas

I will list the general features and benefits gleaned from researching several different 3D drilling systems. I have listed the manufactures at the end of this article. Please visit those web sites for more information. The list below is not representative of any one specific system.

Operators can navigate and position themselves without the need of a surveyor, all from within the cab.
Hole patterns can be loaded from an office design file or designed in the field. This provides stakeless drill pattern layout.
Drill to the surface design (DTM), elevation or desired depth.
Record actual drill depth.
Project the hole depth.
Record and measure multiple drill parameters including bit diameter, steel ID, etc.
Supports angle drilling
Unlimited tagging of strata
Remote wireless monitoring provides near real-time system feedback to one or more dispatch centers.
Graphical historical playback - providing unsurpassed post analysis and operator training.
Real time data transmission (two way) provides up to the minute project distribution
Instant messaging
Create DTM from collected drill data
Avoidance, warning and watch zones can be established by polygon or DTM.
Machine-to-Machine proximity - on screen proximity visually displays real-time locations of other working machines.
Reporting module may provide:
As-built drill hole to design files
Near realtime volumes
Drill productivity
Extract strata information
Individual machine reports for fleets/users/activities
Number of holes drilled

Accurate drilling means better blasting.
Better blasting means better fragmentation.
Better fragmentation optimizes all downstream process positively impacting the entire operational bottom line.
Reduce blasting cost
Reduce over and under drilling
Reduce survey cost
All weather operation, day or night
Real-time information for operators and office personnel
Stakeless drill pattern layout keeps operator in the cab and eliminates personnel on the work face in harms way.
Avoidance zones keep machines in safe working boundaries. Alarms can be established both audio and visual.
Proximity warnings visually informs all operators of each machines positions. Alarms (audio & visual) can be established to sound if a proximity zone is breached.
Daylight vs darkness safety

The consensus is that 3D drilling, although in its early adoption phase, is here to stay. The features and benefits make a strong business case. These benefits are sure to grow as the industry continues to embrace the technology. Drilling is yet another machine and market for positioning and machine control.

*This list of GPS drilling systems not intended to be all inclusive. If you have or know of another product, please send me an email and I will add the information to this article. MachineControlOnline.com’ wants to promote all things positioning and to advance the technology. Send info to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

-Randy Noland

3D Drilling Systems:
Aquila Drill System by Caterpillar - Movie

Carlson Software’s Drill Gradehttp://carlsonsw.com/drillgrade.html

Leica DrillNav Plus

Foreshore Technology

Prolec Ltd

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