Cavity Scanning: A Careful Look at New Technology vs. Improved Technology

By Daniel Nanthathammiko • July 22nd, 2020
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Cavity Scanning, or as most of our users like to say “C-ALS® Survey” is something that has been conducted for decades under our product line. It isn’t new to us (and those in underground mining operations) but it is capturing the attention of many new potential users of the data.

Underground Surveyors Using Carlson Scan to Deploy a C-ALS Gyro


In any operation where production needs to be the priority, the more usable data we have, the smarter our choices should be. The same could be said with the systems we choose to use to keep our operations as efficient as possible.

As a manufacturer of such systems, we have come across many new and amazing disruptive technologies that offer unparalleled detail. But what is the cost of such detail in an underground environment that generally requires an immediate answer? Where do we make the distinction that 5cm spacing of a point cloud up a shaft is more important than using a total station to survey stringlines of a drive’s advancement?

I’m not going to discuss specifically which system is best on a spec sheet or on someone’s linked in comments, I’m going to discuss which system is appropriate for a site’s operation (start to finish deliverable) and what keeps you productive even when things go wrong.

SLAM based LiDAR sensors are all the rage if you scour the internet. Velodyne has done a great job in getting their sensors out there in a way commercial OEM integrators can get on board with (we’ve been in laser module development and sales for decades as well). Of course, these systems can produce incredibly detailed datasets, and based on quoted times from conversations, it seems like the way of the future.

In one conversation with a developer of such systems, the founder stated that a stope can be flown in 5-8 mins, processing of SLAM delivers a point cloud in twice the time of flight, then per scan, it goes into mining software for georeferencing and solid creation which takes approximately 10 mins.

Top of my head, that is 34 minutes for 1 scan. Is one scan the entire flight of data? I’m not sure but let me offer you an alternative viewpoint (and this is where I spruik our systems that are cost-effective and appropriate for the conditions).

Go old school and put our VS+ (Stope Scanning System) on the boom (either attached to our lifter or manually over a bund) and scan for 10 minutes. It may take 3-5 minutes to get the scanner in position but in 15 minutes, you’ve got a georeferenced, validated, and closed solid model.

An Underground C-ALS Scan

Using Carlson Scan, we can import the site models (in DXF or OBJ) and verify that the data collection is accurate in real-time as you scan.

What about the C-ALS? That has been upgraded too. With a Gyro sensor onboard for navigation, I’ve personally deployed 20m to 30m drill holes (usually 89mm-102mm diameters) with a 3°scan sweep in less than 30 minutes with fully georeferenced point clouds and closed solids for immediate use in any package the user wants.

Add to this, we have the new gyro-based Boretrak2 drill hole probe entering the market next month to fully capture the drilling and blasting effectiveness when stope mining as well as the Fix1 for network-based stockpile data collection and volumes.

There’s a reason why users choose to work with us. We don’t sell you on spec and expect you to work it out, we deliver complete solutions for the different phases of production your site finds itself in. We also support you years after the sale with our global service centers, loan and rental hardware, and extensive experience within the mining and quarrying industries.

There is definitely a place for all of this new tech on-site as they can play integral roles on your choices but next time you speak to someone trying to sell the latest and greatest piece of disruptive tech, consider what the true long-term costs are (pricing and data acquisition/processing) and whether you’re ok with production suffering due to those factors.

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