Changing the Face of Quarry Management

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Large-scale mining operations across the globe have become development and test sites for advanced positioning technology. Think of a mine or quarry site as a 50-year construction project on a very large scale. What is economically or chronologically unfeasible for the typical earthwork construction site can be deployed at a mine or quarry where cost and implementation factors can be spread out over longer periods of time.

Permanent GNSS reference stations can be installed to provide RTK corrections for machine guidance and survey rover accuracy. Automated haul trucks can operate around the clock to achieve maximum productivity based on algorithms that derive the most efficient route. Autonomous drill rigs with GNSS machine control place blast holes at precise, pre-determined locations. Unmanned ore trains carry excavated material to processing facilities, often located at a considerable distance from active mine areas.

Schlter fr Baumaschinen has partnered with Topcon since November 2010 to distribute machine control solutions throughout Germany. Topcon is a leading manufacturer of positioning technology offering a variety of customer-oriented solutions for application in various fields. Schlter fr Baumaschinen offers modern construction systems adapted to specialized customer requirements. The company’s business model is providing exactly the right solution for complete life-cycle management with an emphasis on follow-up service and support.

Why is machine control the cutting-edge solution for modern mine site management? Holger Neupert, product sales manager for Topcon machine control at Schlter replies, "Because labor and machine hours are costly. The target on every construction site is the highest quality results with the best accuracy, material usage optimization, and the cost reduction of surveying services. Topcon’s solutions are the fastest and most effective available combining powerful machines with the latest control technology."

While control of machines can now be managed efficiently with positioning technology, there are other tasks fundamental to mine management that can benefit greatly from improvements in safety and efficiency. Surveying and mapping missions required on a day-to-day basis are labor and cost intensive. Personnel on foot at the mine site with GNSS rovers or total stations must be constantly aware of the movement of huge machines around them.

Working in partnership with Topcon, Schlter has identified and deployed cutting-edge survey technology, combining terrestrial and mobile LiDAR mapping. These complimentary data sources provide a perfect solution for comprehensive site management. Automated machines clearly offer significant cost savings and automated survey methods are producing similar results.

Combining Topcon’s IP-S2 and GLS data for Efficient Site Measurement
Topcon’s IP-S2 Mobile Mapping System overcomes the challenges of mapping linear features and large areas to a high level of accuracy. Precise vehicle positions are obtained using three redundant technologies: a dual frequency GNSS receiver establishes a geospatial position; an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) tracks vehicle pose; and a connection to the wheel encoders provides odometer information. These three technologies work together to sustain a highly accurate 3D position for the vehicle even in locations where satellite signals can be blocked by obstructions such as buildings, bridges, tree lines, or mine site highwalls.

This system is used by Schlter in the quarry environment to accurately map all haul roads and active excavations on site. An understanding of the quality, gradient, and length of these roads provides exactly the information required to compute costs, plan haul road repair work, and install new routes. IP-S2 data can be accessed in the office almost immediately after a mapping run. The data produced by the mobile mapping system–360 spherical images merged with 3D point clouds–provides a comprehensive view of current conditions as if the viewer were actually standing on site. Detailed investigations and analyses can be made in the office environment, facilitating management decisions.

Mobile mapping with the IP-S2 is limited to areas with vehicular or ATV access. In inaccessible locations, or where a greater level of detail is required, mobile mapping information can be supplemented by the data collected using a GLS-1500 static laser scanner. This tripod-mounted system produces high quality images and laser scans at a range of up to 500m with single point accuracy typically in the 4 – 7mm range. GLS data is used primarily for measuring walls / faces which are critical for blast planning and excavation; detailed measurement of structures such as buildings and conveyors; and measurement of material stockpiles.

Combining high quality digital photography with x,y,z point data in a single hardware system is the signature feature of Topcon’s positioning / imaging products. One source of data alone is often insufficient for a comprehensive view of target routes or areas. Images provide instant visual recognition of areas or features to be studied. LiDAR point cloud data provides geospatial information from which surfaces can be derived, slopes can be defined, and other types of engineering analyses can be performed.

The application of mobile mapping and static scanning for mine/quarry sites has multiple deliverables:
Historical documentation of site conditions in 3D
Computation of haul road distances, widths, slopes/gradients, clearances
Calculation of all transport costs (distance, weight, fuel, time)
Calculation of volumes changes for material stockpiles and active mine faces
Cross sections for blast hole alignment
Rapid mapping and assessment of changed conditions
Complete geospatial site management in a GIS environment
Comprehensive information for planning expansions and modifications

The combination of these surveying and mapping technologies provides mine and quarry operators with critical information on an as-needed basis under compressed time schedules. The end result is safer, more efficient, and cost effective methods to collect essential data for operations, maintenance, and planning.

More information about Topcon’s mobile mapping and static laser scanning products can be found at: www. (Europe) and (North and South America).

Visit for more Information about SchlueterBaumaschinen’s products and services.

Andrew Evans is Applications Development Manager for Topcon specializing in the Imaging product portfolio. Survey and mapping trained he has academic and commercial experience in the rapid collection and visualization of three-dimensional data covering projects from residential boundaries through to full city models.

Richard Rybka is a retired technical specialist for Topcon’s mobile mapping systems and a regular columnist for LiDAR News. His articles focus on recent developments, applications, and subjects of pertinent interest to mobile mapping.

A 793Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine complete with images is available by clicking HERE

About the Author

Richard Rybka

Richard Rybka consults with Topcon Positioning Systems as an Applications Journalist. He retired from full-time employment at Topcon in January 2012. During his years with the company, he worked as a product application specialist for mobile mapping systems and GPS devices. Richard also wrote numerous application stories that were published in trade journals and was a regular contributor to LiDAR News. He lives in rural Alabama.
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