Sandvik said the addition of iDrill enables the rig to interact with the company's AutoMine Surface Drilling automation system, meaning it can be operated fully from a control room.
"The latest development is a major step on Sandvik's DTH drill rig automation journey," said Jari Läntinen, Product Manager, Surface Drilling. "This means shifting from individual automated tasks and sequences towards a genuine ecosystem of automation platforms and operating with a connected fleet of automated mining equipment."
Läntinen added that the new platform will change the operator's role - instead of handling a single machine, these will more likely be specialists controlling multiple drill rigs remotely, and "utilizing their expertise to optimize drilling process productivity".
AutoMine Surface Drilling enables line-of-sight or control room operation of as many as three Leopard DI650i drill rigs.
The iDrill's drilling cycle uses automation to ensure consistency, reducing errors such as hole inclination through automated positioning provide by the TIM3D drill navigation system.
Following a drill plan, the rig's feed beam and boom are automatically positioned to the correct angle. The drill rig is automatically stabilized and the feed beam is accurately aligned to match the drill plan to ensure high-quality holes.
The existing cycle has also been upgraded with new features such as anti-jamming pullback monitoring, an intelligent collaring sequence including suction head automatics and centralizer automatics to match the hammer and pipe size for optimal support while collaring.