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Portable Data Collection in the Mining Industry


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Author Miller DR and Churchill J


A suite of software programs has been written to provide the field engineer or geologist with the capability to collect and store data directly into small, portable handheld computers. This allows the engineer and geologist to collect data in a more efficient manner as the data is collected in sequence and is verified at the time. Typical applications for this software include geological and geophysical logging, trucking surveys, mine surveying, condition monitoring, ventilation surveys and maintenance systems. The software allows the user to construct his own electronic notebook by structuring data input to the computer in a similar manner as is now done on pre-printed forms. The user can store all valid entry codes or numeric ranges in a dictionary and all data inputs made are validated against this dictionary. Once constructed the user may call the electronic data sheet into the unit and collect data which will be stored into the unit which has the memory capacity to record data for up to periods of 60 hours. The data can then be automatically transferred to mini/microcomputers for immediate analysis and report generation. The software may be used on a variety of handheld computers.However the generally rugged environments found in the mining industry limit the choices. In particular the authors have selected a unit weighing a little over one kilogram, which is rugged enough to fall off an underground survey vehicle, and survive when accidentally immersed in water,without losing data. This paper describes the software developments in detail. The project development work to produce this system has been funded by a grant from the Australian Mineral Industries Research Association and is supported by a number of large Australian mining companies.