DXR strikes gold in Colombia

Published 22/2, 2018 at 15:34

In a remote part of Colombia, surrounded by muddy waters and dense, humid jungle, there is an area full of tunnels into the Earth. These tunnels are owned by Operadora Minera S.A.S. and it is in these that 3.5t of gold are hauled out of each year.

With the help of dynamite, rails and large carts, three men work to load 3–4t of blasted material by hand into the carts, normally two per day. The blasted material is then processed further to find the gold within.

The tunnels at the mine require working in a 35o degree angle in a hot, humid environment. The constant lifting of heavy rock takes a toll on the workers over time. Therefore, they work in shifts and are on site for only three weeks at a time. This meant that Campo Elías Gómez Merchán, director general of Operadora Minera and his team looked for ways to increase worker safety, alleviate stress and increase the amount of material generated during a shift. After looking into various possible solutions, the use of electric demolition robots was considered.

Demolition robots can execute the manual digging and hauling tasks the workers were performing, thus moving the workers away from hazardous areas. The robot’s compact size enables use in tight spaces, while its construction makes it able to traverse the landscape and withstand the hot, humid environment. The availability of different attachments enables the machine to switch between breaking loose rock from the sides of the tunnel walls and excavating the fallen rock. The electric power does not produce harmful emissions, keeping workers safer. 


Selecting a robot

Gómez Merchán contacted company Gonzalo Becerra which is jointly owned by DiamantBec located in Bogotá, Colombia in order to try out a Husqvarna DXR 270 demolition robot. After putting the robot through a rigorous test in the mine to see if it could withstand high heat, dealing with large loads of material that could stress a machine, as well as how well it maneuvered and ease of operation, Gómez Merchán and his team ultimately decided the Husqvarna DXR 270 demolition robot would be ideal for the job. 

The DXR 270 is powerful, agile, easy to operate with Gómez Merchán being impressed by the level of service and support Husqvarna provided. After the robot was sent, Johan Ekström, Husqvarna Construction product manager, demolition robots Americas, followed.


Training takes team work and skill

Ekström, following a long uncomfortable and arduous journey was joined by Husqvarna district manager Aleksandar Stankovic, and Mauricio Becerra Valbuena from DiamantBec, who served as translators and additional trainers. The training team taught the four operators basic operation and maintenance of the DXR 270. This was followed by instruction as how to perform the specific tasks the DXR would handle in the mine. 

They were shown how to use the bucket attachment to dig, pick up and unload the material in carts at a 35o angle, as well as learning manoeuvring and balancing the machine at different levels. To ensure the four operators were well trained, Gómez Merchán asked Ekström to develop a practice plan for them and to come back in 4 to 5 weeks to evaluate the operators.

When Ekström returned in March, along with Becerra Valbuena from Diamant Bec, the four operators passed their practice plan evaluation, and it was now time to apply their new skills in the mine. Ekström accompanied the four men into the mine and fine-tuned the operator’s performance on their specific tasks. By the end of the training week, the DXR and operators were accomplishing in two hours what it took the three man team to manually load during a 12 hour shift. Needless to say, everyone was pleased with the result with the DXR being able to increase the mine’s efficiency as well as increase worker safety. 



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