The initial research into the application of radar technology for the mining industry started as a PhD project in 1993 at the University of Queensland. In 1997, the Australian Coal Association Research Program provided funding to the University of Queensland to focus the development and application of the university’s radar technology to measure the movement of walls in open pit mines.
The objective of the early GroundProbe work was to develop a product that could achieve seven key objectives for measuring slope stability that were not available in existing measurement systems. These were:
1. Monitoring coverage that was sufficiently broad and uniform to determine the slope failure mechanism
2. Deformation measurement precision that was at least 10 mm, preferably 1 mm
3. Operation that was reliable in a dusty and smoke filled mining environment – something that laser solutions could not accomplish
4. Data that could be easily interpreted by mining personnel
5. System that was safe to use around mining personnel
6. System that did not hinder the mining process and had low false alarm rates
7. System that could function economically with simple installation and had running costs.
The Slope Stability Radar was commercialised in 2001 and the business has since expanded to become the global leader in the provision of slope stability radar solutions with over 200 radars deployed across 25 countries supported by in-country presence in 12 countries.
Crescent Capital Partners, an Australian private equity firm, acquired a majority stake in GroundProbe in 2010. The business has evolved materially since Crescent’s acquisition with the current management team driving significant growth as a result of the following strategies:
Broadening the application of technology to other verticals: Over the past five years, GroundProbe has invested significantly in a R&D program that has broadened its radar offerings from merely targeted area monitoring to include broad area monitoring and long range monitoring. This development has been supported by an expansion in mobility options and a standardisation of the platforms for the radars.
Software solutions: GroundProbe divested its geophysics division, which was focused on boutique geophysical services to invest significantly in the software and visualisation solutions of the business. The business now has best in class visualisation and data analysis which provide clear and intuitive visualisation of slope stability and alarming based on the largest database of wall failures globally.
Global distribution: GroundProbe has a global distribution footprint with offices in 11 countries and has expanded into Indonesia, China, India, Peru, Colombia and West Africa over the past five years alone. GroundProbe has invested in having a strong owned distribution network that can provide clients with superior service.
Investment in IT, corporate systems and personnel: This involved transitioning the management of the company away from the founders to corporate managers and investing in smart systems and a deep organisational structure.
Over the past five years, the business has evolved significantly and substantially to become a broader and more robust business.