Tim Peco, LKAB Wassara AB

There is a constant ongoing struggle to improve drilling performance and productivity, from product development by manufacturers of drilling equipment to fine tuning of drilling parameters by drilling operators at the drill site. Ever since the late 80’s when inventing the water-powered down-the-hole hammer, LKAB Wassara have been driving new technology development within drilling and constantly challenging traditional methods with new innovative solutions. Wassara also runs the drilling technology centre for LKAB where continuous improvement programs for higher efficiency and lower cost drilling keeps LKAB’s underground mines competitive. Today more than 1.5 million metres of production holes are drilled annually with Wassara products. Next great leap in drilling technology development for Wassara, is now to take its mechanical products into the digital age. As a part of this step, LKAB Wassara is now launching an autonomously drilling optimization system - called OWD. The OWD is a sensor system aiming at reducing energy inefficiency in percussive drilling by active optimisation of drilling parameters. The OWD- system can thru intelligent signal processing calculate how effective the energy usage is to optimize drilling performance and improve productivity. Long-term tests in long-hole production drilling have shown that with an OWD control system, drilling performance (ROP) increased with more than 10% on a modern automatic drill rig from a market leading supplier, and up to 30% improvement on manual drill rig. It could further be seen that a more effective use of added energy, led to reduced wear on drill steel and less vibration which in turn led to reduced drill rig maintenance. Reduced energy consumption is also direct connected to less CO2 emissions.