Technology is rapidly on the move ? and it?s so easy to fall behind. In the quarry industry alone, we are seeing regular advances in plant and equipment.
Unlike 30 or 40 years ago, it?s now possible to run a complete crushing and screening circuit by wireless automation, with a handful of operators. Even the mobility of crushers and screens makes accessibility to the rock face so much easier, and only one or two operators are needed to supervise their activity.
Earthmoving equipment is now more comfortable and operator-friendly. In the past, an operator would have sat in a loader, dump truck, excavator or drill rig and either sweltered in 40 degree heat or froze their short and curlies off in the depths of winter. Air conditioning and heating in the cabin have changed all that, and the operator can even listen to his or her iPod while loading product into a dump truck or boring a drill hole.
It seems there is a new electronic application (or app) being introduced daily on mobile and portable devices such as iPhones, iPods, iPads, Blackberries, Google Android devices and laptops. This month, we have highlighted three free apps that will be convenient in quarrying.
Orica has created an app of its Blast Pocket Guide, which has traditionally been printed in notebook format. Superior Industries in the US has launched an app that can make cost comparisons between using wheel loaders and conveyors to move aggregate from the rock face to the crusher. Holcim also has an app that encourages a more environmentally conscious approach to blending construction materials. It is now possible to do calculations and scenarios on your phone rather than having to use pen and paper or even a laptop in the field. How long will it be before you can program a mobile crusher with a phone app?
Most notably, as the IQA?s general manager Paul Sutton wrote in last month?s Quarry, the scope of professional development learning is also changing. It is now possible as part of e-learning to do the bulk of the course workload online, making savings in training costs, while promoting increased productivity, improved retention and personalised learning, all in real time. This year, the IQA will introduce five ePDPs ? hydraulic classification, washing and primary separation, working methods, feeders and crushing ? to its burgeoning Professional Development Program.
Even Quarry is making strides in electronic media. Our articles and news items can be viewed at any time on www.quarrymagazine.com and every Monday we deliver a weekly e-newsletter, keeping you informed of industry news from around Australia and the world. Last month, we also launched another value-add ? Quarry Product Focus – which is being forwarded to your inbox fortnightly. Product Focus is designed to keep you and your peers informed about the broad range of products available to the industry. This includes goods such as bearings, drives, spray nozzles, generators, filters, breakers, ground engagement tools, attachments, drill consumables and computer software and hardware. While Quarry itself will continue as a monthly magazine, the weekly e-newsletter and Product Focus will keep you up to date with industry news without the constraints of monthly deadlines. IOA members are receiving both e-newsletters and I encourage you to read them.
Needless to say, with the rapid pace of technology at our fingertips, we are truly in the 21st century. And this is something that should be embraced, not shrugged off. It doesn?t matter how young or old you are, everyone is capable of learning how to use new technologies ? and quickly. The one thing we should never forget is that such advances are designed to help us work more competently, productively and, most importantly, safely. Whether you?re a freshman to the industry or a grizzled veteran, as long as you have an open mind and a willingness to learn, you can never go wrong.