New explosives innovation prioritises safety

A detonator and charge placed on the wall of an opencast mining operation with

TOP SHOT The DigiShot Ranger offering inherent safety features and improving functionality for operators

20th October 2023


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The DigiShot Ranger, designed by South African mining explosives manufacturer AECI Mining Explosives has been designed to cater specifically for smaller mines, quarries and civil blasting operations, offering inherent safety features and improving functionality for operators.

Technological developments are yielding far-reaching improvements in safety, sustainability and operational efficiency throughout the mining explosives value chain, the company reports.

In line with inherently safe design principles, the DigiShot Ranger’s built-in long-range antenna enables the system to transmit a safe encrypted blasting signal up to 3 km away from the blast, as long as line of sight is maintained.

This affords the user options to blast remotely if required, meaning fewer people are in close proximity to a potentially hazardous area during blasting times.

“We’ve been working tirelessly to improve our offering for midtier opencast mines, civil blasting activity and quarrying operations,” says AECI Mining Explosives electronic initiation systems product portfolio manager Ashlin Pillay.

He points out that the original DigiShot system is a reputable and accomplished product.

The new system keeps the portability and ease-of-use of the original DigiShot system, as well as requires low levels of training.

The DigiShot Ranger works with AECI’s fourth-generation detonators, facilitating the storage of a variety of data on the detonator and tagger, including bench activity.

However, the DigiShot Ranger doubles the detonator capacity to 600 detonators as opposed to the original’s 300 detonators, and gives the operator flexible tagging options, and automatic detonator detection.

The last detonator check function also ensures all detonators on the string receive the blast command, according to AECI Mining Explosives.

“With over 30 years of experience in pioneering the electronic delay detonator industry and developing class-leading blast initiation technologies, we pride ourselves on developing innovative solutions in the initiating systems and commercial explosives space,” says Pillay.

He adds that the company has tested its electronics extensively, subjecting such devices to high voltage to simulate a lightning strike, with results showing that the detonators remained uninitiated, owing to the designed protective circuitry.

As such, AECI has ensured, by design, that its detonators are only initiated by AECI Mining Explosives propriety control equipment.

“The DigiShot Ranger also logs user interface activity, making it easy to conduct operator safety audits as it can also be used to determine if there is supplementary operator training is required.”

Keeping it in Check

LogShot, a complementary software package, informs users of the blasting activity and enables operators to extract detailed, post-blast activity logs.

“This is useful for consolidating the activity of the blast itself, along with the inventory management of detonators, while highlighting typical problems users may have experienced,” says Pillay.

Clients can now easily build their own blast library on ViewShot Express, detailing blast design parameters, which may be used for future blasts in similar geological conditions, which is an important safety aspect that can also help to improve operational efficiencies.

Attention has been given to the device’s ergonomics and user-friendliness, with the DigiShot Ranger offering improvements in both areas.

The flexibility in tagging methods defines multiple options for the user to select when tagging to allow for both traditional tagging, for users who are comfortable with this methodology, as well as the more modern tag-by-plan option.

The more modern option is where the blast design is created on the ViewShot Express and downloaded to the CE4 tagger using a USB or WiFi connection; the latter enabling tagging on-bench with delay and location from the pre-designed blast plan, which mitigates user input errors.

With smarter tagging methodologies, movement on the bench can be reduced and optimised, AECI Mining Explosives notes.

The tagger has been designed to function as an inherently safe device and cannot generate the required blast voltage or blast commands to initiate the blast, with the blast command being stored in a near field communication blast card.

Pillay adds that, as a responsible supplier, AECI Mining Explosives also focuses on recovering equipment at the end of its life cycle, managing the responsible disposal of the entire system.

“The DigiShot Ranger evolution is just one example of AECI Mining Explosives’ holistic and flexible approach, which aims to help clients on their unique journey to better blasting outcomes,” he concludes.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer




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