Automation, laser technology and sustainability: innovation in concrete spraying

Concrete spraying is a cost-effective, mechanised technological solution to concrete construction and shaft lining in underground tunnels that improves safety and reduces the environmental impact of mining operations.

Spraying equipment allows workers to utilise innovative technology to carry out underground construction from a safe distance, requiring a smaller team of specialised staff for more efficient and sustainable construction methods.

Automated spraying equipment to improve productivity

Due to the diversity of spray concrete equipment, training staff in all process areas can be difficult. Automation technology makes operations easier for workers and helps to improve productivity. SmartSpray, developed by Normet, is designed to simplify the process for operators by automating the nozzle position. This process technology is available in three variations; Lite, Pro and ProPlus.

SmartSpray Lite allows operators to control a spraying nozzle, which maintains its position to spray the concrete at the target surface. Operations are controlled from a single joystick to simplify use. The SmartSpray Pro has an automated nozzle, meaning that operators need only to control the distance from the target and move between segments. The ProPlus calculates the path to automate the entire process, including distance and speed for optimal concrete layering.

Increased efficiency with laser technology

Recent developments in 3D laser technology have improved the efficiency and safety of concrete spraying processes. Normet’s SmartScan is mounted on concrete spraying equipment and scans the targeted area before and after spraying in order to provide the user with a colour-coded visualisation of the thickness of the concrete and an overview of areas that are under or over-sprayed.

This technology improves efficiency and reduces wastage, as well as allowing operators to scan the areas where repairs may be required.

Accurate data secured by the laser and its associated software is uploaded to the cloud, allowing for introspective analysis in addition to instant concrete thickness reports.

Sustainable battery-electric technology

Sustainability is becoming an increasing focus for industry innovators. Normet’s battery electric vehicle (BEV) technology, SmartDrive, is emission-free and designed for use in harsh environments. Hot gases and heat are not produced, improving air quality in confined spaces and reducing ventilation costs.

SmartDrive equipment can be charged from any underground AC socket, or using fast-chargers. The split module battery architecture also allows equipment to continue operating in the case of a malfunction as the faulty module will be isolated, reducing the risk of unplanned maintenance shutting down operations.

Energy recuperation technology allows SmartDrive vehicles to regenerate and store braking energy during deceleration and downhill driving. A number of Normet’s products utilise SmartDrive technology for concrete spraying equipment, as well as other mining construction applications, including but not limited to the Spraymec 8100 SD and Spraymec MF 050 VC SD.

Normet concrete spraying equipment

Normet offers a broad portfolio of wet concrete spraying equipment for mining and tunnelling applications, including the Spraymec range comprising the NorRunner 140 DVC, Alpha 1430 PC, Alpha 30, LF 050 DC, MF 050 VC, SF 050 D and 8100 VC, as well as its dry concrete spraying products; the Normet Piccola and Normet GM.

It also supplies the Minimec 2, a mechanised concrete spraying manipulator designed for smaller-scale construction in escalator and tunnel shafts, small diameter tunnels or locations that large machinery cannot access.