Sandvik Construction offers the world’s widest range of equipment for rock drilling, rock excavation, processing, demolition and bulk-materials handling. We worked with them in technology development to bring a user perspective to the new surface drill rig control system functionality.
Sandvik wanted to explore the value, usability and improvement possibilities of automatic positioning, a new way to control surface drill rigs. Together we compared the automatic positioning with traditional control method to find out whether it would make the drilling process more efficient and safe. In order to fully exploit our talent in user experience we had to compile a good understand of the drilling industry and the mindset of the drill rig operators on the field.
We carried out an extensive user study with several expert interviews, focus group discussions and contextual inquiry sessions at an operative mine. Collected information guided Sandvik in creating a prototype of automatic positioning. We then evaluated the new functionality with a drill rig simulator through two user test rounds. The results helped Sandvik to confirm that the product development was moving to the right direction. Insights gathered throughout the project were also used in creative workshops to further improve the drill rig user experience.
Our research collaboration proved to be extremely valuable as automatic positioning was found to be considerably faster and more accurate compared to the traditional control mode. The users were also very pleased with its user experience. The feature received Sandvik’s internal innovation award and first drill rigs equipped with automatic positioning were sold in 2014. A common research paper from the project was written and presented in the CHI 2014 conference in Toronto, Canada.