By Rob Colaw, longwall maintenance coordinator, Tunnel Ridge mine, Alliance Resource Partners, and Eric Anderson, general manager, Tunnel Ridge mines, Alliance Resource Partners

The paper will give a short system overview detailing the sensors that support Tunnel Ridge’s Advanced Shearer Automation. These sensors include inclination sensors on each ranging arm, a mainframe inclination sensor, rotary sensors on each cowl, rotary sensors on each haulage drivetrain, and several proportional control hydraulic valves to accurately control the ranging arms and cowls. The shearer is also equipped with several High definition flameproof video cameras, mounted at strategic locations along the body of the shearer. Video streaming images from the shearer are sent through fiber optic cables to a large monitor located within a Remote Operation Center situated several hundred feet outby from the longwall face mounted on the “mule services train.” The Remote Operations center is also equipped with a handheld radio to directly control the shearer, and multiple displays that provide status and diagnostic information for the shearer, roof supports, and mine wide operations.

The shearer cutting sequence is configured, and automated, through the use of Advanced Shearer Automation. This automation sequence is developed using an offline software utility, called the Graphic Offline Planner (GOLP). Using this tool, the cutting sequence is defined by creating individual sequence steps, which instruct the system which automation modes will be utilized for each ranging arm, the location along the face where each step will begin and end, the desired haulage speed and direction of travel for each step, and the desired extraction heights along the face. The shearer then executes this sequence in a persistent loop. The shearer operator is tasked with teaching the system the initial horizon of the roof. The trailing drum then follows this taught horizon at a predetermined vertical offset. The system will then repeat this cut on subsequent passes until the operator deems it necessary to re-teach any portion of the roof horizon. The shearer operator can be positioned at the shearer, walking alongside the machine, or at the Remote Operating Center, where vision of the cut is accomplished through the use of the shearer mounted cameras.

This system has been in operation for several months and mention will be made of the results achieved including the reduction in manpower on the face (increased safety) and the improved cutting horizon and increased production and productivity.