New era in top hammer drilling

With its ability to drill holes from 102 to 178 mm in diameter, the Pantera DP1600i – the newest addition to Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Pantera DPi series family – changes the game in top hammer drilling, writes Munesu Shoko.
Sandvik Pantera
Designed for large hole size drilling, the Pantera™ DP1600i is ideally suited for a variety of applications, including pre-split and production drilling in large quarries and surface mines.

The very first Pantera™️ DP1600i drill rig from Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has arrived in southern Africa, ushering in a new era in top hammer drilling. A major talking point is the drill’s ability to drill hole sizes from 102 to 178 mm in diameter, making it the largest top hammer drill on the market.

According to Vanessa Hardy, BLM for Surface Mining at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, top hammer drills have always been limited in terms of hole sizes. To provide context, the previous Pantera DP1500i could only drill holes up to 152 mm in diameter and anything beyond that would traditionally call for a switch to down-the-hole (DTH) drilling.

“We are excited to bring the first Pantera DP1600i drill into southern Africa. Being capable of drilling holes up to 178 mm in diameter, the new machine expands the hole size range of previous top hammer drills and challenges traditional DTH drilling on large quarries and surface mines,” says Hardy.

Designed for large hole size drilling, the Pantera DP1600i is ideally suited for a variety of applications, including pre-split and production drilling in large quarries and surface mines. In extensive field tests conducted by Sandvik Mining and Rock solutions, the machine has proven to be a faster, fuel-efficient and cost-effective alternative to DTH drilling in hard, competent rock formations. Here, DTH drills typically use substantial amounts of energy to fracture the rock, while the top hammer system uses less energy to get the job done.

Sandvik Pantera
he long piston technology of the RD1840C generates high-impact energy with optimum pulse form, optimising performance in large hole drilling without compromising the rock tools’ service life.

Key components

Developed as a combined project between Sandvik Surface Drills, Rock Drill and Rock Tools, the three key components of the system – the Pantera DP1600i drill rig, the RD1840C rock drill and the new LT90 rock tools – are all optimised to work seamlessly for optimal drilling results.

“One of the key talking points are the three main components of the drilling system – the drill rig, the rockdrill and the tools – which have all been reviewed, redesigned and mutually optimised,” says Hardy.

With its 49 kW of drilling power, the new RD1840C rock drill is also built for large hole drilling, boasting a robust design and well-balanced long piston percussion package for demanding conditions. Its new layout of pressure accumulators maximises efficiency and minimises hose vibrations.

Developed to match the other components in the system, the LT90 rock tools consist of a shank adapter, MF tube rods and drill bits, offering the best possible drilling dynamics and rock breaking efficiency. The tools increase productivity, improve hole straightness and provide great coupling characteristics and a long service life.

Sandvik Pantera
The LT90 rock tools are developed to match the other components in the Top Hammer XL system. The tools, consisting of a shank adapter, MF tube rods and drill bits, offer the best possible drilling dynamics and rock-breaking efficiency.

Key features and benefits

In designing the Pantera DP1600i, Sandvik saw the need to provide a cost-effective option to DTH drilling that could fit certain drilling applications with greatly improved performance. This new offering is therefore highly fuel-efficient, offering mining and quarrying customers a considerable reduction in their carbon (CO2) footprint in the process.

The Pantera DP1600i has proven itself in many locations around the world, including Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia, South America and West Africa, where it has been deployed in a variety of open pit conditions with great operational outcomes.

Results from field tests showed a 50% reduction in fuel consumption, 25% reduction in total drilling costs and a 15% increase in productivity, compared with the DTH drilling method under specific conditions.

The Pantera DP1600i also has a special design focus on safety. A case in point is the machine’s support for high-level automation solutions, which speaks directly to improved operational safety.

“As always, Sandvik’s priority is the safety of the people operating and maintaining our products,” says Hardy. “All Sandvik surface drills built in Finland are designed and manufactured to strict CE (Conformité Européenne) requirements, which means that the manufacturer takes responsibility for the compliance of a product with all applicable European health, safety, performance and environmental requirements.”

With ease of operation in mind, Sandvik chose to base the machine on its already proven DPi series platform. Consequently, operating the machine is just as easy and efficient as the existing DP1100i and DP1500i models.

With the Sandvik Intelligent Control System Architecture (SICA) common control system, a key component of the iSeries family, and the integrated GUI touch screen, all the controls and adjustments are monitored and adjusted using Sandvik’s i-Torque control system, thus eliminating the need for operators to constantly adjust parameters.

“Controls are easy and similar to the previous models, so the transition for the operator from a DP1500i, for example, to a DP1600i, is effortless. There is about 80-90% similarity between the new machine and the previous DPi offerings,” says Hardy.

Because the DP1600i is based on the existing DPi platform, servicing and maintenance are similar to the previous models. Thus, service technicians who are well versed with the previous DPi models can easily work on the DP1600i with minimal to no training required.

“In addition, all service points are easily accessible, therefore reducing downtime related to routine service and maintenance. While this has a massive effect on machine uptime, it also has a knock-on effect on safety,” says Hardy.

Vanessa Hardy, BLM for Surface Mining at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

Support matters

Like all other Sandvik products, the DP1600i benefits from the company’s proven aftermarket regime. Sandvik offers a full suite of aftermarket services that are tailored to each customer’s operational requirements.

“From a servicing point of view, there are several options available. For example, we offer full maintenance contracts, where we have a Sandvik crew on site to service and maintain the machines on behalf of the customer. However, depending on customer needs, we can have an expert on site who does not do the nuts and bolts, but is only there to guide and coach the customer’s service personnel,” concludes Hardy.

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