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Satellite-guided navigation technology for pinpoint drilling accuracy


Sandvik’s satellite-based drill rig navigation — TIM3D — allows for vastly superior drilling accuracy and productivity in quarrying applications.

Now in its second iteration, Sandvik’s TIM3D addresses four essential operations through its three-dimensional navigation system: rig navigation, feed alignment, drilling and reporting. 

Sandvik designed TIM3D to work with global satellite networks that are used to provide higher levels of accuracy than traditional drilling methods. TIM3D has been engineered to improve both hole quality and hole position accuracy. 

Having accurate drilling operations is important in quarrying, as it can result in improved fragmentation with a reduction of boulders and fines – resulting in increased efficiency and production. 

“With TIM3D, the operator in the drill gets much better accuracy in terms of the hole,” Sandvik’s Business Line Manager for Surface Drills, Scott Wright, told Quarry. “If you’re using a tape measure and a can of paint for a drill plan, there’s inherent inaccuracies in that method, which in some cases can lead to more than 10 per cent inaccuracy. That obviously can compound and you could end up with a much worse blasting outcome.” 

The total system accuracy of TIM3D can provide large holes within 10cm, making it much more reliable at providing accurate drilling. TIM3D eradicates the requirements of surveying and hole marking to minimise errors and speed up operations. 

Satellite compatibility 

Based on multi-satellite RTK GNSS navigation, TIM3D is compatible with various satellite systems used across the globe. 

“TIM3D uses either a base station on-site for correction signals or a virtual reference system which is based on the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone network to give provide centimetre accuracy without the correction between the base station and the drill,” Wright explained. 

“The antennas and receivers are on-board with the machine and that gives you communications with the GPS, the GLONASS and BEIDOU satellite networks. Lately, we’re finding the BEIDOU is required to get the satellite coverage in Australia that we need for this.” 

TIM3D V2 includes an overhauled computer plus an intuitively designed graphics user interface that aims to be operator-friendly, according to Wright. 

“The feedback we’ve had is the usability is high,” he said. “It’s quite simple to use. Once an operator gets to the boom and feed adjustment tolerances of the hole, he can press a button to auto-boom and feeder lining based on the drill plan so he’s not having to do the final alignment.” 

TIM3D also includes a number of added safety benefits through its remote operations. 

“When using TIM3D, you don’t have people on foot marking out the pattern with a tape measure and a can of paint,” Wright said. “It also allows you to put holes much closer to the edge without people being in danger of falling due to the proximity to the free face or top of the highwall.” 

Drilling data from TIM3D is stored in the computer’s memory and can be exported to external programs. The system also creates a report of each finished drill plan with information about the position and depth of drilled holes. 

TIM3D can be fitted to Sandvik’s DX, DG, DXi,  DPi and DI650i range of drills. 


Sandvik’s remote monitoring service SanRemo can be used with TIM3D. The technology is plugged into a drill system via a USB that uses Bluetooth to communicate with its app – available both on iOS and Android operating systems.

“SanRemo gives you wireless connectivity to the drill,” Wright said. “The SanRemo app allows you to have a USB connector with a Bluetooth transmitter that plugs into the drill. Then you have the San Remo app on your phone or tablet that’s available for both iOS or Android.

“The drill plan can be also sent via email and other filesharing services to get it to the tablet. Once it’s in the app, the drill plan will automatically upload the drill once it’s within Bluetooth range.”

Bluetooth has several advantages over Wi-Fi when monitoring a drill remotely in a quarry, Wright said.

“Because it’s a standalone, it’s not relying on having Wi-Fi network on site,” he explained. “While there’s increasing mines and quarries with wireless mesh networks, it’s not everywhere yet. Bluetooth also allows drill contractors to be completely independent of the site infrastructure to get their drill patterns to the drill and also get the drill data off at the end of the shift.”

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