Robotic Sample Preparation now a viable option for African laboratories
Robotic sample preparation systems provide for the continuous production of high quality samples for analysis. Automated systems typically require numerous repetitive tasks per day to justify replacing manpower in developing economies. However, in consideration of other issues such as productivity, safety and quality, robotics can provide an attractive business case for miners and laboratories across Africa.
Benefits of Automation
- SAFETY: Removes personnel exposure to dust and other potentially harmful substances present in the sample, fluxes or reagents. Eliminates manual handling operations and the risk of repetitive strain injuries for laboratory personnel;
- QUALITY: Representative, tracked samples prepared without contamination every time;
- THROUGHPUT: End-to-end automation ensures consistently high production rates, 24/7 operation, no breaks for meals and meetings;
- LABOUR OPTIMISATION: Personnel requirement is for sample infeed & outfeed only. System can be configured with sufficient buffering for single operator to run the automated facility;
- CONFIGURABLE and EXPANDABLE: Additional crushing and pulverising modules may be added into the layout. Robotic automation allows adjustment, reconfiguration or expansion as operating conditions change;
The RoboPrep system from Rocklabs (a Scott Technology company) can accept Drill Core, Reverse Circulation cuttings and Blast Hole samples, providing flexibility for commercial or mine site laboratories.
A typical system layout features two separate robot cells, allowing crushing of samples up to 20kg to be loaded into bins on the infeed conveyor, where they are weighed before moving to the Crushing Cell. Inside this cell, there may be one Big Boyd Crusher and three Boyd Elite Crusher modules, fitted with fines bypass feeders to maximise the crushing throughput. Crushing units are fitted with Linear Sample Dividers (LSD) where the sample is split accurately before passing to the Pulverising Cell. This cell may include five Automated Batch Mills, as well as a sand wash dosing station. The final samples are split, then robotically loaded onto a trolley for further analysis.
Additional options which can be integrated into the system may include drying, dosing, digestion and analysis modules.
The Rocklabs RoboPrep system utilises crushers and mills that are compatible with standard sample preparation designs already familiar to most laboratory maintenance technicians. Service, spare parts, and consumables are supported by a global network of offices and agents, including Wirsam Scientific in Africa.