By Dave Body, Bentley Systems’ solution executive

HISTORY has proven that surveying professionals are eager to embrace new and innovative technology. The industry adopted total stations during the 1980s, GPS technologies in the 1990s, and today is aggressively leveraging unmanned aerial vehicles and laser scanners (aerial, terrestrial and mobile). These innovations have advanced surveying efficiency substantially, but the latest technologies also introduced the challenge of big data.

The role of a mine surveyor has shifted in recent years as well. They are no longer just expected or required to survey discrete points in the mine operation, but are now expected to survey much larger areas and do so more quickly, accurately and frequently. Additionally, they are now the gatekeepers of spatial data entering the mine enterprise. In this role, surveyors must manage, maintain and disseminate spatially relevant information to ensure the right information is available to the right people at the right time.

Indeed, over the last three years, and in combination with the cyclic downturn of the industry, the combination of new technology and big data has made its presence felt. Owner operators now look more closely at how to leverage these aspects to improve overall operational effectiveness.

With this in mind, Bentley recently introduced MineCycle Survey, an underground and surface mine survey application that accelerates data processing and visualization to deliver more timely information to planning and operations. The software’s unique open data architecture provides unmatched flexibility and freedom to share survey intelligence across the enterprise, enabling mine owner-operators to make faster, higher-quality decisions that improve mine performance.

Bentley Systems solution executive Dave Body Bentley Systems solution executive Dave Body

Bentley created MineCycle Survey through a syndicated development process, which gave industry participants direct input into the software’s definition and design. Syndicate development sponsors were Anglo American Platinum, AngloGold Ashanti, Lonmin Plc, and Royal Bafokeng Platinum. Over a three-year period, these companies helped Bentley identify a number of industry-wide survey inefficiencies and address them with MineCycle Survey.

Through this innovative industry partnership, Bentley delivered an application that supports the dynamic mine surveying environment, whilst still supporting more traditional survey requirements. The software can ingest data directly from a variety of sensors, instruments, file formats and collection techniques including manual field book data, total stations, GPS devices, laser scans and point clouds. This allows the user to combine diverse sets of data in one survey without time-consuming intermediate conversions that increase the risk of data corruption.

MineCycle Survey includes tools to easily apply and share standards for survey codes, symbols, colours, levels, line styles, cells and more. Integration with ProjectWise, Bentley’s information management and collaboration software, enables standards enforcement through the application of global definitions for the project workspace and schema. These capabilities reduce errors and promote consistency to enable efficient interpretation of survey deliverables across the organization.

Moreover, with its open architecture, MineCycle Survey enables information mobility within the enterprise. The software leverages the proven industrial-strength Bentley Map platform that enables effective management and maintenance of big spatial data. MineCycle Survey uses native formats to operate with desktop and enterprise-level implementations of Oracle and SQL databases. The open architecture enables unmatched flexibility and freedom to share accurate mining progress anywhere it is needed by eliminating the difficulty, time and expense of working with complex, non-native formats. The resulting information mobility enables novel reporting and analysis for more agile and informed responses to market fluctuations and unexpected events.

As the industry continues down its path of increasing production through improved efficiencies whilst reducing costs, new and innovative technologies coupled with big data will be commonplace. To support this transition into this next exciting phase, Bentley Systems will continue to provide innovative software solutions with its MineCycle product line.

Dave Body is a solution executive with Bentley Systems. From 2009 to 2012 Dave served as a solutions engineer/architect with Bentley Software.

He joined Bentley in October 2001 when Bentley acquired GEOPAK Corporation, where he served in numerous roles including applications engineer and business development manager. Before joining GEOPAK in 1995, Dave held the role as senior civil designer/surveyor within a Western Australian municipality.