Position, charge, and repeat. From an operator's perspective, manual up-hole charging is physically engaging. It requires an operator to pass a loading wand (hose) into a bore hole overhead, support the weight of the hose and explosive material while resisting the downward force as the explosive material is flowing, and retract it at a steady pace to control its packing density.
This process typically required one operator in the boom basket to support and control the hose thoughout the charging cycle, a task that was both labor-intensive and exhausting. "Work Smarter, Not Harder": we've all heard that mantra. That was our focus in the development of the Getman Hose Pusher and the basis of our challenge to help mine operators with the loading of ANFO or Emulsion. How can we make their task easier and safer? In the 60+ years we have been building mine trucks, our customer base has only recently shown interest in an advanced hose pusher product. Prior to now, customers utilized available technology but as they continue to push progressively deeper bores, they have found it is increasingly difficult to hand-load hoses. As a result, they have asked us to develop our own "Getman-built" design.
After examining all aspects of this process while working closely with our customers and field personnel to define our requirements, we started with the specification and boiled it down to the essential elements: lifting capacity, feed rates, hose sizes, unit weight, operator interface, safety features, and future need. We were also mindful to anticipate aftermarket options for all existing trucks in operation. Thorughout the exploration phase, we learned that our customers were collectively using three different hose ID sizes: 0.75" (19mm), 1.00" (25 mm) and 1.25" (31mm). In an up-hole charging application, as the hose size increases so does the volume of material, the ensuing lifting capacity, and ultimately the tensioning and load holding requirement when pushing toward and stopping at its peak position. Like many before us, we could have developed one mechanism specific to each hose size but we instead opted to give our customers a one drive system that can adapt to each hose size. Whether the mine is using ANFO or bulk emulsion up-hole charging, face charging, or down-hole charging, as long as the loading hose fits the size range, the drive unit remains the same. This became our primary challenge: to develop a variable tensioning mechanism that automatically adjusts to an increasing hose diameter.
As many of you know, the anti-static hose used is quite smooth and rigid, so we had to accommodate the tensioning and drive mechanism to overcome uncoiling resistance and its low coefficient of friction that produces an eAsven slicker surface when wet. The other obstacle was preventing the hose from slipping during ascent or feeding so our ability to track its position would remain accurate. To balace feed rate and lift capacity throughout a 50-60m vertical push under these circumstances, while maintaining minimum unit weight and size, we chose a non-corrosive drive system powered by hydraulic motors for safe and simple operation.
We can't say enough about our engineering, purchasing and factory teams. With a few bumps in our learning curve, the team and our suppliers responded quickly to changes. Our test results were impressive and after a cumulative two years of operation, we were ready for real world application.
Orders have been shipping to customers since last year. And as we phase in our future features to meet the growing demand for meter control, data download, and remote charging, our company's Statement of Action: "We help miners work safely and productively through customer inspired solutions and support" continues to fuel our passion to supply long-lasting products and high value services desgined to meet our customer's need.