Safe and efficient blasting has taken a momentous step forward with Omnia Group company BME’s launch of AXXIS Titanium, said to be one of the world’s most advanced electronic blast detonation systems.
BME MD Ralf Hennecke has hailed AXXIS Titanium as a significant advance for the company’s ever-evolving technology offering, securing BME’s position among the global leaders in electronic delay detonator (EDD) design.
“Our release of AXXIS Titanium raises the bar globally for the electronic detonator market,” says Hennecke. “This flagship product reflects our continued focus on digital advancement on mines, and is designed to seamlessly integrate with BME’s software systems and hand-held digital tools.”
AXXIS Titanium improves safety levels and manufacturing quality through enhanced communication with the detonator during manufacturing to avoid defects. Performance is raised through the increased blast duration per detonator, more units per blasting box and precise firing accuracy.
“Most importantly, the AXXIS Titanium system was built for the blaster and blast engineers who work with the product every day,” he says. “The robustness of the wire, the easy-to-use interface and the improved integration will improve efficiency in terms of time, data and reporting.”
As the latest generation of BME’s popular and well-proven AXXIS system, AXXIS Titanium takes blasting safety and flexibility to a new level, according to Tinus Brits, BME’s global product manager for AXXIS. BME has over the decades made regular advances in the performance, safety and reliability of this innovative solution, says Brits.
“This latest iteration builds on the achievements of the AXXIS GII model and raises the bar in many of the features that have served our customers so well,” he says. “These include further refinements in safety, accuracy, flexibility, ease of use and speed in preparing each blast.”
Safety remains the watchword, with the incorporation of a Swiss-designed application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chip in the BME detonators, delivering several added benefits. The ASIC gives the system more internal safety gates against stray current and lightning, enhancing safety levels and allowing for inherently safe logging and testing.
“A unique innovation is our use of dual capacitors and dual voltage, allowing us to conduct low voltage logging to avoid any chance of detonation,” he says. Blasts are initiated by a robust, encrypted blast command ensuring that detonators all receive their respective commands and fire as planned. He emphasises that the detonator will only react if it receives the correct, encrypted firing sequence from the blasting equipment, not from any other source.
“We have developed AXXIS Titanium to be resistant to electro-magnetic pulses (EMPs) caused by the blast, which can affect the accuracy of detonators or even cause them to fail,” he says. “Our intensive tests in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) showed that our detonators can withstand a significant EMP without any impact on their timing.”
He notes that underground blasting – within confined spaces – makes detonators particularly susceptible to re-setting and misfiring due to voltages from EMP, as well as from dynamic pressures. Over-moulding of all components on the electronic board protects the detonators against dynamic pressures, and isolates components from any induced ground currents – such as electrostatic discharge and lightning strikes.
Easier timing, more dets
The ASIC chip boasts more memory and processing speed, facilitating easier timing and centralised programming if the timing needs to be changed after being conducted on the bench. It also achieves lower power consumption with the incorporation of dual capacitors – so more detonators can be initiated per blast. The system can now manage 1 000 detonators per blasting box, doubling the capability of the previous generation.
Brits also notes that up to 20 blasting boxes can be linked and synchronised through hard wiring, enabling the possibility of initiating up to 20 000 electronic detonators in a single blast – doubling the capacity of the AXXIS GII generation.
“AXXIS has been proven in some of the largest mining blasts on record, giving mines the opportunity to conduct fewer blasts – thereby reducing downtime due to pit closures,” he says. “The ultra-low energy micro-chip is also less susceptible to leakage and cable resistance and extends the firing time to a maximum of 35 seconds.”
The ease of use and on-bench logging is among the key benefits of AXXIS Titanium. Hennie du Preez, BME’s manager AXXIS Support, highlights the one-step logging and testing of detonators, as well as the simple fault-finding and quick corrections on the blast pattern.
“Everything is built into the logger, which can now do the programming, scanning and testing,” says du Preez. “The market appreciates the speed at which you can now fire a blast; after the detonators have been programmed, you can start up the controller from the view site and blast within two minutes.”
The speed of the ASIC chip on the system’s board cuts the programming time by half, he noted.
Blasting for sustainability
The accuracy of the detonation delays has been further fine-tuned, reaching a 0,02% firing accuracy for consistent and quality blasting that results in better rock fragmentation and consistency. He highlights the positive impact this has on the efficiency of key mine measurables such as loading rates and crusher throughput. This in turn helps mines improve their carbon footprints as they pursue increasingly vital sustainability targets. In this way, BME’s technology innovation is closely aligned with the Omnia Group’s ongoing focus on sustainability, which prioritises zero harm and positive impact to build a better future.
Accurate blast design and initiation also allows mines to ensure they are operating within regulatory limits regarding vibration control.
“Commands from the operator are written into the detonator’s non-volatile memory, so that it cannot be over-written or deleted,” he says. “This is very useful for post-blast analysis if required, even the blast command is recorded by the memory chip.”
He highlights the value of technological integration of AXXIS with BME’s other innovative solutions such as its BLASTMAP blast planning software, XPLOLOG platform and cloud-based storage for post-blast analysis. The system also integrates with third-party blasting software.
“The AXXIS Titanium system supports BME’s data integration vision for customers,” he says. “This aims at giving customers better control of the entire blasting process, as well as customised reports and data solutions to optimise efficiency and cost.”
The commercialisation of AXXIS Titanium follows extensive laboratory and field testing in South Africa, leading to the recent award of an Inspection Authority certificate by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Enthusiastic uptake of AXXIS Titanium has already begun in BME’s southern African market, and the system will soon be rolled out across BME’s extensive Africa footprint.
Further afield, Australia is also an important market for this AXXIS upgrade, especially due to the complexity of their coal seams and methods – such as through-seam blasting, says Du Preez.
“With multiple seams requiring the loading of detonators to prevent contamination of coal with waste, longer firing delays are an important benefit,” he says.
The system is already certified in Australia, Asia specific and the United States, and the necessary regulatory processes are underway to certify AXXIS Titanium in Canada and the rest of the company’s global territories.
Providing the necessary training for customers to use the new system remains an important part of BME’s contribution, according to Tom Dermody, technical services manager at BME Australia-Asia. Dermody notes that training has evolved over the years as mines have become more familiar with electronic detonation technology, and more recently as the Covid-19 pandemic has restricted access to mine sites.
“We now split the training between virtual sessions online and practical sessions on the bench,” he says. “As electronic initiation systems are used more widely, the training tends to focus more on BME’s specific offering. Mines’ blasting teams can now do most of the introductory training online, which we then augment with a more hands-on training element on-site which focuses on practicalities.”
For customers in smaller mining operations, quarries, construction and demolition, there is also a slimmed-down version of this system in the form of AXXIS Silver – for applications that do not require such large blast capability. Du Preez emphasises, however, that AXXIS Silver has the same microchip, safety features and ease of use as AXXIS Titanium. It will shortly complete the required testing protocols to achieve the necessary certification.