Mineshaft Inspection Breakthrough

Based on Mobil Shaft Scanning System Being Developed by Sight Power

January 13, 2013
Manufacturing Group

Officials for Sherborne Sensors, a global leader in the design, development, and manufacture of sensors for military, aerospace and industrial applications, announce that its DSIC inclinometers and A323 accelerometers are being used to provide highly-accurate, geo-reference position data as part of an innovative automated mineshaft inspection technology.

Based on Light Detection and Ranging, (LiDAR) technology and high-resolution photography, the Mobile Shaft Scanning System (MS3) being developed by Canada’s Sight Power Inc. combines three core elements – Lasers, Global Positioning System (GPS), and Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) – promising substantial savings and improvements in safety.

The conventional mineshaft inspection procedure is to lower engineers down the shaft in an elevator at a speed below 1m/sec. However, with the MS3 system, the laser scanning device will be attached to the elevator and move up and down the shaft at speeds that enable quick and unobtrusive shaft scanning. Because GPS is not available underground, Sherborne Sensors’ DSIC high-precision inclinometers will measure the amount of roll and pitch of the carriers to give an indication of whether or not the movement down the shaft is well controlled. Meanwhile, the A323 accelerometers will measure the performance of the carriers with respect to vibration and acceleration during normal operation as well as during inspection cycles.

“LiDAR systems are ideal for mineshaft inspection, because the typical distance from the scanning device to objects within the shaft barrel is only 3m to 4m,” says Sight Power’s CEO and CTO, Borys Vorobyov. “But without GPS, a variety of positional aids are required to assist the INS, including inertial sensors such as accelerometers and inclinometers. We compared products from a number of suppliers and the consensus was that Sherborne Sensors provided the best match for accuracy, price and reputation.”

MS3 is capable of acquiring billions of data points to produce a realistic 3D image of an entire shaft with all internal infrastructures, (construction elements). Known as a ‘Digital Spatial 3D model’, the image can then be imported into a CAD software package for analysis. During the laboratory test phase, Sherborne’s inertial sensors assisted in mapping and characterizing the horizontal test setup performance, as well as indicating any flex, twist and tilt in the MS3 mechanical housing system. The inertial sensors are also being employed to characterize and understand the mineshaft environment, so that the Sight Power team can refine the MS3 system and its design for optimal accuracy and reliability.

“Our gravity referenced servo inclinometers and accelerometers are very robust, extremely accurate and field-proven,” says Sherborne Sensors’ Jesse Bonfeld, Vice President of Business Development. “Their dynamic range means that their output is more conducive to the volume of data required and integrates seamlessly into the MS3 data acquisition system. The fact that these inertial sensors are temperature compensated was also a key factor in ensuring accuracy of results, because the temperature varies dramatically as you travel along the length of a mine shaft.”

In the future, Sight Power aims to determine whether using clusters of accurate but lower cost sensors such as inclinometers and accelerometers can eliminate the requirement for the INS, which would lower the overall cost of the MS3 system. Sherborne Sensors can customize all of its inertial sensors and manufacture to comply with specific customer requirements within its AS9100C Quality Management System. In addition, all Sherborne Sensors’ products come with an industry exclusive two-year comprehensive warranty, guaranteed On-Time Delivery programme and are meticulously tested and calibrated to international standards prior to shipment.