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Case Studies

System integrator unearths ideal portable printer for mining application with Extech solution

In today's volatile post-9/11 world, it is more important than ever for companies in the mining industry to keep a detailed account of all the potentially explosive materials that they inventory and use. In a different time and a different world, companies could simply track the quantity of explosives they used over the course of a day. But today, it is essential for mining companies to account for how much of each particular explosive material is used in each particular shot at each specific location. Government bodies like the ATF in the United States and similar organizations in other countries demand this level of detail.

To accomplish this, mining companies often have to dig beyond their particular expertise in explosives and mining and turn to the expertise of IT professionals. This is where companies like Logical Control Concepts of Wenonah, NJ can play a large role. A system integrator specializing in the design of automation and control systems, Logical Control Concepts focuses on the mining and highway equipment industries. Recently Logical Control Concepts was hired to deliver a control system for a customer with strip mining operations in the southern Ukraine.

According to Logical Control Concepts president, Scott Jones, "We put together a control system that would function from the on-location trucks at each mining site. These trucks are used to mix and manufacture the explosives, and load the materials, all in one fluid operation. We had specified that the system would incorporate a Sauer-Danfoss PLUS 1 control and monitoring network. Our next step was to find the best mobile printer - one that could resolve the mining company's need for complete accountability, as it had to be able to automatically provide a document detailing how much ammonium nitrate, emulsion, fuel oil and nitric acid has been loaded in each mining hole. We spent a few weeks looking at a number of different types of printers and researching all of our options, and we eventually determined that the Extech printer had the ideal capabilities we were looking for."

Jones worked with National Technology Services, a value-added distributor of Extech products, who helped him select the exact printer to meet all of his criteria.

"Scott has designed his control system to be very graphical, so you just touch the screen where you need to," said National Technology president, Jeff Siegel. "He also wanted a compatible printer that was just as easy to operate. The Extech S3750THS Series printer we recommended has an easy-to-use operator interface, as well as an easy-drop clam shell opening for quick and easy loading of paper. This printer is rugged, reasonably priced, takes commands and is easy to use. It's really an ideal product for this type of application."

"National Technology Services provided us with evaluation equipment and tech support that made our decision to go with the Extech printer very easy," Jones said.

The Extech S3750THS is a battery-operated thermal printer designed to withstand the rigors of mobile computing applications. The printer, which is manufactured n the USA and exported throughout the world, provides multiple interface options, bringing much needed flexibility to a job based in the Ukraine with operators speaking a non-English language.

"One of the main advantages of the Extech printer is that we were able to load it with a Cyrillic font," Jones said. "Extech provided me with software that allowed me to easily load the font. It's really seamless - the printer interfaces with simple ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) commands and doesn't rely on a Windows driver. And all the information can be printed in whatever font you need - in this case the data is delivered in Cyrillic. It's an ideal American-made solution that can be exported to meet the needs of applications around the world."

"The S3750THS also features a very simple interface for my software, so communicating with the printer is easy," Jones continued. "Jeff and the Extech personnel were there to answer all questions regarding technical issues."

Connected by a six-foot cable to the system control panel, the S3750THS serves as the end cap on a mobile information station in the mining company truck cabs. After each hole is filled, the printer automatically picks up all the essential data from the system computer - a lot of data given that the company is loading 100 to 150 holes a day. The holes are anywhere from six to ten inches in diameter and 50 to 100 feet deep, and each hole is filled with at least three different ingredients which need to be carefully monitored and documented. The printer provides print-outs of the work done at each hole at the site with speed and efficiency, using automatic thermal print contrast control to produce high speed, high resolution print-outs.

"There were a couple of unique types of information that this Ukraine customer wanted to track, in addition to the type and quantity of product used," Jones said. "They wanted to assign the mines a number, because the trucks would service four or five different mines in the area. They also wanted the date and time of each load. Even in a different language and font, the Extech printer could be set up to accommodate these needs."

Jones continued, "All of this data is kept on file for two reasons. Of course, they needed the data to be readily available for presentation to the Ukrainian regulatory body. But also, the printouts were used to maintain complete and accurate billing records. The company's accounting department would always know exactly what materials were used and how much so they could accurately bill their customer."

Logical Control Concepts and its Ukrainian customer are completely satisfied with the Extech S3750THS.

"Both Extech and National Technology Services have been highly supportive of efforts in bringing mobile printing capabilities to this particular strip mining application," Jones said. "All the printers and files were delivered in a timely fashion, and the tech support was there whenever we needed it. The mining company is also very happy with the Extech product; in fact they have recently ordered additional printers to be used in mining operations in Kazakhstan. They were particularly pleased with the fact that we were able to use the Cyrillic font."

No matter what the language, it's clear that the Extech S3750THS is one portable printer that translates into an ideal printing solution for both system integrators and mining companies throughout the world that require fast and easy documentation of materials used and work done.

Extech S3750THS Series printer
Logical Control Concepts
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