Rolling out the red carpet for operators

2012 Jan 05

About 50 Scandinavian drilling con­tractors converged on the Atle quarry near Örebro, Sweden to get up-close-and-personal with the SmartROC surface drill rig, arguably one of the most technically advanced drill rigs available.

With a strong focus on working life for the professional driller, the audience was informed that the era of the dinosaurs (read: manual rigs with no ?intelligence?) is coming to a close, and that the SmartROC is the  foremost example of ?the new era?.

Presenting the rig for a packed audience, Olav Kvist, Product Line Manager for Atlas Copco?s surface drilling equipment, explained the reason why. He began by pointing out that the rig is superior to all other comparable drill rigs on the market in terms of advanced computer control, performance and environmental friendliness. But he quickly turned the spotlight on the operators: ?You are the guys who matter most,? he told them. ?You are the ones who sit in these machines every, sometimes for very long shifts. That?s why we are rolling out the red carpet for you by offering improvements that have a substantial affect on the operator?s life.

?For example, the cabin is designed for maximum comfort. The controls are ergonomically designed and very easy on the arms ? just two joysticks, some simple pushbuttons and an input device with a scroll-and-click wheel instead of using  touch-screens.  All this built-in functionality is extremely labour-saving, reducing physical effort to a minimum.?

The drillers were then able to see these characteristics in action via a live video link transmitted from a SmartROC working in the quarry. Here, an Atlas Copco instructor put the rig through its paces, methodically describing each function and operation in turn, while the results of his actions were made simultaneously visible on an enlarged picture of the rig?s display screen.

Kvist followed up with a few examples of the many upgrades that come with the latest SmartROC version. These included a lightweight, easy-to-use radio remote control unit, an updated, more user-friendly version of the rig software ROC Manager and a new type of circuit board that eliminates the conventional fuse box and is more durable and easier to see and manage.

Fuel costs cut by half
Equally impressive was the effect of SmartROC technology on fuel consumption. According to Mats Birkestål, Product Manager, it can cut fuel costs by up to 50 per cent ? a claim that has been proven by drillers in five countries who report an average fuel consumption of around 15 liters of diesel per hour.

?This is possible due to a combination of contributing factors,? he said. ?For example, we are able to regulate and fine-tune functions like compressed air and water mist, the dust collector fan and so on, so that only the minimum amount of power is required from the engine. The compressor can even be closed down when it is not needed which causes the engine revs to drop immediately, saving fuel. We have also reduced the amount of hydraulic oil required by 65 per cent. In other words, we only generate the energy that we need.?

Based on an average working cycle and the price of diesel fuel in Europe today, Birkestål said he had calculated that the SmartROC, compared to its predecessors, was able to return a saving of approximately 17 000 euros per year.

Per Olofsson of Parts & Services continued the theme by pointing out that furthe­r savings can be realized through less downtime thanks to the upgraded service programs such as ROC Care, COP Care and Crush Care (if crushing is involved), service contracts and operator training using simulators provided by the Atlas Copco Master Driller program.

During the event the operators got the chance to try out the rigs for themselves and their opinions were unanimous.

What the  operators say

Matthias Sjökvist, Berg & Byggteknik AB, Sweden:
?I have been in this business about 20 years and we have about 14 rigs in our fleet. I have to say Atlas Copco has done a pretty good job with this SmartROC. We were asked what sort of improvements we would like to see and today it?s great to see that they have listened to us. This rig meets a lot of our demands and overall I think the solutions are quite impressive. The low fuel consumption and plenty of space for servicing is all good.

?A big plus for me is that you can now adjust the display screen vertically. This makes it much easier to get the screen in exactly the right position. I also like the possibility of radio remote control. A lot of the time you want to be outside the rig, especially in difficult terrain, so it?s pretty good to have that choice. If there?s anything else I would like to see the SmartROC get in the future it would be a bigger dust collector.?

Tom Erik Janerud, Kjell Fors AS, Norway:
?My company has ordered three of these rigs and I am very excited about that. At the moment we have seven ROC D7 C rigs and the SmartROC will make a big difference. I?m really glad I came here today. It gave me a really good feeling for what this new rig is all about. I think it?s amazing ? a revolutionary solution. I?m looking forward to getting in that comfortable seat and starting it up. The added comfort alone will be a big improvement for us, especially when working the long shifts. And of course you can?t ignore the fuel saving. That?s a huge plus.?

Rune Anderssen, Vassbakk og Stål AS, Norway:
?I operate a ROC D7 C right now. It?s a good rig, but with this new one Atlas Copco has really given a lot of thought to us operators. I think it?s a big step forward. When I got into the cab, it felt great just to sit at the controls and feel how easy it is to use the joysticks. You feel that you can really relax while you work which makes a big difference for the body, especially when you work long shifts in the same position. My company has bought three of these new SmartROC rigs and I hope to be the first to use one.?

Epiroc operated under the trademark “Atlas Copco” prior to January 1, 2018.