Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Remotely Operated Mining

I gave a presentation on the Transmin Rocklogic rock breaker automation system at the Remotely Operated Mining Projects conference. All in all it was a fairly decent conference focused around the theme of remote operations for mining, focusing predominantly on integrated planning, remote operation technology, and the design and construction of remote operation centers.

Talks were given by:
  • Greg Lilleyman, Rio Tinto - an overview of remote operations
  • Matthew Michalewicz, SolveIT - integrated planning for mature organizations, interesting overview of some of the wine industry supply chain issues
  • Patrick Warrand, Wesfarmers Premier Coal - a open overview of issues for 'small' mining operations (Note: Small is of course a relative term compared to the massive operations of BHP and Rio)
  • Jeremy Newman, Schneider Electric - a suppliers point of view to automation
  • Jock Cunningham, CSIRO - an overview of CSIRO activity in mining, and their SLAM technology. (WAMBOT was multi-agent SLAM, CSIRO does automotive SLAM and a novel handheld indoor SLAM 'Zebedee')
  • Brendon, Leica Geosystems - an overview of Autonomous Solutions Inc (they do lots of autonomous systems for military and agriculture), and Locata - a GPS alternative
  • David Beck, Beck Engineering - a case study of Simulation Aided Engineering
  • Adrian Boeing, Transmin - remotely operated rockbreaking
  • David Cavanagh, Integrated Energy - an overview of remote operation center designs for oil and gas, and mining
  • Lucas van Latum, Modular Mining - Goal orientated planning and the Observe-Orientate-Decide-Act loop
  • Reuben Kooperman and Peter Hunt - architecture for Remote Operation Centers (or Integrated Planning Centers) - including two buildings I go past on a regular basis and never fully realised what goes on inside - the City of Stirling building, and the ECU Joondalup library.
  • Mike Lomman, OpX Solutions - planning considering bottlenecks
  • Andrew Jessett, MineWare - realtime dragline and shovel monitoring and support/maintenance orientated ROC's.
  • David Hattrick, Oracle Corporation - Oracles approach to managing mining data and information
  • Richard Taylor, Concept AV - Video walls
I put the Rocklogic animation up on youtube, it's pretty neat. Gives a short overview of the systems features - Remote operation, collision avoidance, automated movements (auto-park, auto-deploy), etc.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

PDF tools

PDF files are the standard document distribution format. PDF has long left other file formats in the dust. However, there are always a number of operations that people like to make to PDF's ranging from just creating them, to splitting or merging to applying a watermark or foreground stamp.

There are a number of great free tools to do all this work.

  • PDF Creator lets you create PDF files in Windows. Another popular alternative is CutePDF. For Apple Mac, under OSX you can simply print straight to PDF.

  • Splitting/bursting and merging/combining PDFs I feel is best done with a dedicated tool, PDFSAM - Split and Merge. Under OSX, you can actually use the sidebar of preview to move pages around, and drag in PDFs to merge, or pages to remove. If you have a lot of pages to do PDFSAM is a wiser choice, otherwise for smaller tasks Preview is fine.

  • Compression of PDFs under OSX is also straight forward, you just need to open the PDF in preview, and then under Quartz filter choose "Reduce File Size". Under windows, you can use PDFTK, more on this later.

  • Annotation of PDFs, again with OSX, preview gives you a small set of annotation tools. Under windows, you can use PDFTK. (Low cost / free for some-things aternatives are PDF-Xchange viewer and Foxit Reader)

  • Watermarking and Stamps are best done with PDFTK.

  • Encryption can be done with PDFTK, and under OSX, preview has an encrypt option.

  • Of course for those with cash, Adobe's tools are the best choice, but pdftk is a fantastic free alternative, if you don't mind a bit of command line typing.

    An example of putting a foreground stamp onto every PDF with pdftk:
    • Generate a PDF where you would like to apply the stamp to (i.e. the source)
    • Create a stamp PDF. This should have the stamp you wish to apply (e.g. "DRAFT") and be a transparent PDF. Microsoft Word will generate transparent PDFs by default, so you can create your stamp in Word.
    • Apply the stamp to the source PDF using pdftk, for example:
      pdftk in.pdf stamp stamp.pdf output out.pdf