SMI, a division of Sasol Chemical Industries, manufactures the UNI TronicT electronic initiation system, an advanced, fully-programmable solution for initiating explosives in mining, quarrying, construction and civil engineering applications.
Manufactured in South Africa, the UNI TronicT system is distributed around the globe.
“One of the distinguishing features of the UNI TronicT system is the passive scanning of detonators, using an innovative application of barcode technology,” said Johannes Louw, marketing manager at SMI.
He explained that the electronic detonators are each equipped with an imbedded microchip, each with a unique identification number, which corresponds with the barcode label scanned with a handheld scanner.
“The scanned detonator identification numbers are downloaded into a blast box, along with a delay time for each detonator. Once the site has been evacuated, the blast box communicates with the individual detonators to coordinate initiation of explosives in the individual blast holes,” continued Louw.
He said that SMI's team was the driving force behind the development of this unique application of barcode technology, and it identified Harmonic as a preferred supplier of the two types of scanners used to read detonator IDs.
“Harmonic played an important role in assisting us to increase the robustness of the scanners and to create the interfaces between the UNI TronicT technology and the scanners,” Louw added.
He explained that the scanners are a key component of the UNI TronicT electronic initiation system, making it possible to read the individual detonator ID's without communicating with the detonator itself.
“Without the presence of a properly functioning scanner the individual electronic detonators will not be identified and, therefore, will not be programmed with its specific delay. Without this, the system would not function,” he commented.
Barry Baetu, managing director of Harmonic, said the system has worked very well, allowing SMI to handle potentially dangerous products with confidence.
“Good progress has been made towards improving the robustness of the scanners, as mining conditions are often very rough at up to 6 000 feet below the ground. In the five years since the design of the system, it has been exported to Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America, contributing towards the UNI TronicT system becoming a leading technology in electronic initiation of explosives,” he said.