Mine model provides reality check

GERMANY’S Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation, which is among Europe’s biggest applied research centres, has developed a new PC-based coal mine model for equipment design, training and research purposes.

Staff Reporter

Christophe Runde, from the institute’s virtual reality application centre, said a feature of the modelling system was that it allowed a three dimensional world to be constructed out of standard VRML files.

“If these 3D files have kinematic properties/mechanical behaviour, an interface is created that enables the control of this element by external applications or devices,” he said.

The life-like mine model provided a means of visualising equipment, conducting “plausibility” checks for infrastructure planning, completing mechanical and electrical engineering studies, personnel training and tele-mining operator training.

Longwall coal face and drift dimensions can be altered, new “equipment” can be imported as VRML2.0 files and scenario planning can be conducted within a “real” mining environment.

“We think it’s quite an interesting platform that can be used along the whole mine development process chain,” Runde said.

“People can be trained with different controls, and you can test equipment controls or a central control room. We are actually trying it out for 3D tele-mining. That means we connect our visualisation to the central control room.

“You can see at the (control room) screen what’s happening at the coal face.”

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