Blast hole patterns can be easily created with staggering or square design; once in place, single holes and entire lengths can be adjusted and edited.


Today’s computer software for mines exclude very few facets of the everyday shift. In fact, many have built upon an already excellent platform to help mines work safer, work faster and with greater knowledge of what lies ahead than ever before.

Then there is technology that also adds, quite literally, another dimension. Earlier this year, Kentucky-based Carlson Software introduced Precision 3D Drill and Blast design software, the newest addition to its Precision 3D product line, bringing its users an interactive 3-D engine with enhanced transparency, texturing, lighting and rotation.

“Drill and Blast allows for quick and easy blast pattern layouts, with real time 3-D editing and instant feedback,” said Carlson Mining Division Director Grant Wenker. “Criteria such as distance from the highwall face, or comparison of design vs. as-drilled hole locations, are analyzed by the entire length of each hole, and color coded warnings indicate if there is a discrepancy.”

When it comes time to begin a design, Drill and Blast allows the user to import surface files so it can collect its data. Importing can be done from file sources including .XYZ, .XML, the company’s TIN files (such as those from Carlson Civil and Carlson Geology) or point cloud scans. Blast hole patterns can be easily created with staggering or square design, and once in place, single holes and entire lengths/columns can be edited to adjust dip angles, depth and azimuth.

“Drill and Blast’s real-time feedback allows users to quickly see distances from end walls or highwall face,” Wenker added. “To ensure a safe distance, highwall face tolerances can be set, and color-coded warnings will show if the hole is too close or too far from the face.”

The software’s simulation function shows blast hole loading using different materials and densities, and calculates for a user the volumes for the design with the option to compile a report. Another feature permits blasthole color and hatching based on highwall proximity or loading decks to compare to the surfaces.

Once complete, the file for the final pattern can be exported to Microsoft Excel or to CSV and Carlson Machine Control DRL for GNSS-guided drilling. An “as-drilled” pattern can also be imported from CSV or a DRL file so that comparisons can be made to ensure all blast holes are drilled within a specified tolerance of the design blast holes. Pattern layout reports with graphic PDF maps, complete with labels and transparent 3-D textures can also be created with the software.

Carlson recommends a quad-core i5 or i7 3.0Ghz CPU with 16 GB DDR3, DDR4 2400GHz to run Drill and Blast with 400 MB of available disk space. For proper viewing, it also recommends a dedicated nVidia GTX700 series or above (or equivalent AMD/ATI video), hardware accelerated drivers for DirectX 9 or OpenGL 3.3 and above with 4GB dedicated VRAM. The software is available for Windows 7 x 64 with Service Pack 1 or above.

Taking technology below ground, the company has also added Carlson eXtract to its product lineup. The software creates models of mine cavities and tunnels underground using data from surveys and point cloud scans.

The Precision 3D product line gives users an interactive three-dimensional engine with enhanced transparency, texturing, lighting and rotation.


“Watertight 3-D solids are generated by ‘shrink-wrapping’ clouds from the outside, eliminating the need to clean the cloud interior,” the company noted of the new release. Its other features include cavity volume calculations, the importing of block models and exporting solids to CAD for cross-sectioning and planning.

The eXtract software permits importing from common scan formats (.LAS, .TXT, .ASC, .DXF) as well as customized formats, and users can import several scans into one working sessions as a location collects more data from performing additional surveys. Even huge files with tens of millions of points can be easily imported into a project’s file.

Solids can be created from total station points and linework or from point cloud data, and they can also be created without cleaning the cloud of “noise” such as people, pipes, wires, roof bolts, vehicles and other items. Solids data can be exported to CAD in .DXF or Carlson MDL formats.

The increased use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, has also brought with it the need for greater technology to support their many duties. In late October, Canadian-based Eos Systems introduced its newest photogrammetry software, PhotoModeler UAS 2016, optimized specifically for UAS photographs.

The software creates 3-D models, measurements and maps from photographs taken with ordinary cameras, both built-in and mounted on drone units, including features for optimized operation with drone photos including post processing kinematics, volume objects, full geographic coordinate systems support, multispectral image support and control point assist.

“PhotoModeler UAS 2016 software includes numerous features that provide higher performance in drone photogrammetry,” the company said, nothing that camera calibration is optimized for high accuracy with UASs and a global positioning system (GPS).

Post-processed kinematics, or PPK, allow corrections to a survey with GPS data after the fact for survey-grade accuracy. Volume objects provide easy and accurate volume data for stock piles and mining operation, and full geographic coordinate system support enables users to work in their local geographic coordinate system for better compatibility.

PhotoModeler’s new version, which features a user-friendly interface for marking ground control points, is ideal for photogrammetry applications, including surveying, ground contouring, surface model creation, stock pile volume measurement, mining and mine reclamation, environmental analysis, slope analysis, forensic analysis, construction, and agricultural crop analysis. New applications for drone photogrammetry are developed monthly.