Why You Need To Be Recording Your Blasts
We all love a good blast video. The earth patiently waiting- holes drilled, with piles of cuttings neighboring them. The anticipation builds- we wait. Then, if we’re lucky and the video is in slow motion- the lightning effect of the charges and the slow roll of the ground. Then the cracks form and the earth rises up- throwing the rock up into the air and heaving it forward. The dust obfuscates the scene, hiding everything, giving only quick glimpses of the muckpile until it finally settles. Whether it’s to appreciate the power, the destruction, or the workmanship- we all love watching a good blast video.
What most people do not see, however, is the days and weeks of planning and preparation for the blast. The labor intensive process of drilling, loading and stemming the holes... All the hard work that pours into those few seconds that showcase the highlights of our trade.
The most important site consideration when it comes to blasting is having a proper “crows nest”, an area where the Blaster and appropriate personnel can view the entire blasting operation. This viewing is critical for blasting performance assessment. If something goes wrong in a shot, or it doesn’t break as intended, this visual analysis is the first instance we have to try to understand why. And whether its because the blaster couldn't get a good view of the shot or to save a record of it for later analysis, recording blasts should be standard practice for every shot.
Recording blasts should be standard practice for every shot.
Before we would record the videowith a camera on a tripod, shooting just above ground level and watch as the earth rolled toward us shooting up rocks until the camera would shake (and often fall). The proliferation of drones has made recording blast videos better and safer than ever. They have opened up an entirely new way of recording blasts- from the air, any direction, with recordings that dont shake.
Drones have made recording blast videos better and safer than ever.
Capturing blasts on video provides drillers, blasters and their crews valuable information on the shot performance. When analyzed we can see exactly how the rock moved, displacement, excess energy being released, ejections, and ideally a muckpile achieving the desired fragmentation. With a fixed camera, we can capture a blast from a chosen location, whether it be from a side or front view. Using a drone, we have the dynamic range of capturing from an infinite amount of angles. In either method, here are some key points to look for when analyzing your blast videos in a mine or quarry setting...
- Toe Displacement: the first factor to consider when watching is how the toe is moving along the length of the shot. With good knowledge and understanding of how the shot was drilled, including face and toe burden, along with appropriate priming and product selection, proper toe movement will allow the relief needed to the proceeding material behind. Thus, achieving the ideal heave and fragmentation results. Observing the toe movement will also serve as a direct correlation to possible cut-offs or misfires. In cases where such events occur, having a quality video on hand, at a slower frame rate will allow explosive engineers to evaluate where possible cutoffs or misfires occurred to begin a remediation process.
- Excess Energy: keeping the explosive energy confined within the column and ground is the ultimate goal. Slowing down a blast video allows us to see where gasses are escaping within a face, when partnered with a 3D burden model it can provide critical information on how the geology is reacting to a shot design. This information is critical when airblast becomes an issue to neighboring structures. With today's technology, thermal cameras are great resources (if available) to visually see where excess energy may be escaping areas of relief.
- Ejections: Whether it is along the face of the shot or the bench, ejections can directly show the results of either poor blast design or overloaded or underloaded holes. In regards to ejections along the face, several factors that play into the event include inadequate burden, overloaded holes, deviation within the drill pattern and even timing of the shot. Understanding how the shot was drilled, loaded and timed will eliminate factors to narrow down why the ejection occurred and where it occurred along the face. A video can show this very well, especially when looking at the specific location and what holes correspond to the ejection area. If on the top of the bench, looking at a stemming ejection can tell us if we need to adjust our stemming design, opening of the shot or even stemming material itself.
Blast videos are a powerful tool in the blasters arsenal. So make sure you get your best video.
Two quick Video Tips & Tricks:
- When Filming your shots, increasing the FPS (frames per second) can create a slow motion video to better analyze the factors listed above.
- Capturing the shot from more of an oblique angle to the face can better show toe movement and where excess gasses escape the face.
When it comes to blast videos, they are so much more than a fun video. Recognizing their value, using them to improve your performance, and then making sure you shoot not only your best blast, but also your best video, will take your operations to the next level. As Roman Emperor Julius Caesar said, Veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I conquered.
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