Epiroc’s Boltec with ABR redefines underground safety

The new from Epiroc Boltec with Automatic Bolt Reloading (ABR) is the very first underground rock reinforcement drill rig designed for bolt type and machine to work in synergy to deliver optimum safety, performance and quality.

With this innovation, Epiroc takes another important step in the rock reinforcement automation journey.

Top-notch operator safety through automation

The main design feature of the Boltec ABR is the fully mechanized bolt reloading system.

The system automatically feeds bolts from a large support magazine to the feed magazine, while the operator remains safe inside the ergonomic cab.

This innovation removes the need to manually reload the feed magazine, protecting the operator from safety hazards such as tripping or falling to the ground.

The fast auto-reload sequence speeds up the production cycle, with a total of 52 bolts that can be installed in a header before backing magazine reloading is required.

The carrier magazine is mounted on a swing arm that lowers the magazine to ground level for ergonomic reloading behind the machine’s front support cylinders.

“By adding this mechanized and automated reloading sequence to the machine, we keep the operator out of dangerous areas. We are proud to introduce a change to the industry in terms of safety,” said Epiroc Underground Division President Sami Niiranen.

The Boltec ABR opens the door to other standalone safety and productivity enhancing features that were previously not compatible with underground bolters.

Remote control and multi-bolt auto are now available options that can provide bolt-on potential during shift changes or when conditions prevent having an operator physically on the machine.

“This combination helps improve operator safety for underground bolting operations,” said Peter Bray, Epiroc Global Product Manager, Underground Rock Reinforcement Division.

Maximized productivity with pumpable resin

The combination of self-drilling anchor bolts (SDA) and pumpable resin is the central component of the Boltec ABR system.

SDA bolts are not sensitive to varying ground conditions and provide fast and consistent installation.

This facilitates programming accuracy for mine planning and forecasting, as the pumpable resin provides fast set times and full bolt encapsulation, ensuring installation speed and quality.

An added benefit of pumpable resin is its insensitivity to wet ground conditions, which can be a desirable feature for many operations.

“Because it’s much cleaner and easier to use than traditional cement, pumpable resin reduces hours spent cleaning the machine. Therefore, it increases productivity by providing more bolting time,” Bray said.

The best option for difficult rocky conditions

Mining operations gradually deepen as they develop existing and newly discovered ore bodies.

Increased depth generally corresponds to increased stresses on the rock, which often results in more difficult rock conditions with fractured rock mass, rock stroke and compressed soil, requiring more regular rehabilitation work.

The Boltec ABR with improved operator safety, flexibility and productivity is the obvious choice for such conditions.

“As an example, the LKAB Kiruna mine in Sweden experienced a significant seismic event in May 2020. Several underground areas were affected and required rehabilitation with bolts and mesh to make them safe again for the production,” Bray said.

“The Boltec ABR was the perfect machine to take on the challenge, proven to provide safer operation and significant productivity increases over LKAB’s conventional bolting fleet.

“This solution made the impossible possible. We can now install bolts where it used to be extremely difficult. Giving some relief to the bottleneck that rock reinforcement had become.

Maria D. Ervin