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JumboGuard – automatic boom isolation system


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Author M Hill and J Dwyer


Downer’s mining division has made an operational and financial commitment to developing engineered solutions that mitigate the risks associated with operator proximity to uncontrolled development drill boom movements, and unguarded rotating drill steels.

With the potential for serious injury or fatality, these identified risks are categorised as critical. Previous attempts by the industry to engineer them out have produced limited success, with numerous incidents still occurring year on year. Ultimately, the industry (as a whole) remains reliant on procedural prevention for operator safety.

Downer understood the success of such an initiative would largely depend on the effective collaboration between operational experience, technology experts and automation. With so many variables requiring consideration; such as physical operator movement, machine boom movements, variable machine positions, and underground environmental impacts – challenging traditional technologies was necessary to deliver an optimal solution.

For that reason, discrete detection (similar to laser curtains or beams) was considered not fit for purpose. The use of situational mapping, using rotating lasers, however, provided the optimal solution. The lasers collect data that is then processed using a custom software application.

The software application is specifically programmed for tracking and classifying objects within detection zones, using advanced algorithms and filtering. Recognition and removal of non-positive disturbances are possible without losing personnel detection capability. The detection of relevant classified objects (humans) is determined by analysis of object size, age, movement, and speed etc. When the relevant object is detected, an alarm and inhibit function is applied preventing drilling functions.

Any breach of the safety zone (forward of the front jacks) will automatically disable the hydraulic boom function. This can only be reset in the cabin once the person or persons have returned past the front jacks of the development drill into the safety zone.

Downer, in collaboration with partner YUMARR Automation, has successfully developed this reliable boom isolation system, and is called JumboGuard. The system has now been commissioned and installed across all Downer Mining development drill fleets, operating in Australia.


Hill, M and Dwyer, J, 2017. JumboGuard – automatic boom isolation system, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference 2017, pp 287–294 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).