After acquiring Inbye Mining Systems in 2005, Kopex began activity in the Australian market, leading to the signing of a licence agreement in 2009 to use the LASC technology.
ZZM (a Kopex subsidiary) manufactures longwall shearers, holding more than 60% of the Polish mining market with several shearers in the Czech Republic and more than 30 in Russia, although recently ZZM has turned its attention towards the latest shearer applications in Australia and China.
Its shearers, the KSW-2000E and the KSW-1500E, have been designed assuming installation of LASC hardware on board.
The whole data transmission protocols of all control and monitoring sub-systems have been adjusted to enable cooperation with the technology.
The KSW-2000E has been equipped with an ethernet communication system, ranging arm positioning measurement system, shearer location measurement system and algorithms implemented on the shearer main controller enabling full automation if the Master Control System is installed.
Even without the Master Control System, the shearer can still remember and repeat the manner in which it cuts the face through the memory cut function, “teaching” the shearer ranging arms to change their positions along the coal face in response to variations in coal seam thickness.
The machine remembers the basic parameters, monitoring changes in positioning cutting drums, crusher, guards and its velocity depending on the distance proceeded along the wall.
Pressing the auto button results in automatic imitation of the previous system, with corrections implemented online.
A superordinate regulatory system integrates local control systems for the roof supports, longwall shearer, AFC and belt conveyor haulage drives using ethernet transmission with TCP/IP protocols, making the haulage system very dynamic, providing the ability to maximise the installed power.
This haulage system, together with haulage regulators depending on the cutting drum loading and temperature correction algorithm, enables the execution of optional mining modes.
When asked about commercial application of its machinery, a ZZM-KOPEX Group spokesman told Mining Magazine: “There is only one Kopex [Inbye] longwall in operation in automatic mode, though all systems which will be offered in Australia in the future will be fully automated.”
“A KSW -2000E shearer has been installed at the Ziemowit Coal Mine, Poland, although the automatic control system has not been implemented so far.
“The top Polish coal mines have declared their readiness to use it, and the mines are striving to implement automatic control where geological and organisational conditions allow it.”
Famur Group, also based in Poland, incorporates Famur (shearers), Nowomag (AFCs) and Fazos (roof supports).
So far, the group offers IT technologies and high-end control systems, with no fully automated longwalls in commercial settings.
Its products include e-mine; a framework for all underground IT systems based on internet technology developed using the TCP/IP ethernet standard.
E-mine uses GreenDiamond underground servers acting as nodes and handling various communication protocols to develop a new generation of longwall system which Famur calls e-longwall.
China has a number of coal equipment manufacturers such as shearer manufacturer Xi’an Coal Mining Machinery Plant and AFC manufacturer Zhangjiakou Coal Mining Machinery Co Ltd.
These company’s products are now being marketed outside China by Ellton Longwall, based in New South Wales, although there has been no implementation of automation technology to date.
T Machinery in the Czech Republic has delivered shearers, conveyors and electrical equipment to the Vorkuta and Kuzbass coal mining regions in Russia and complete longwall systems to Ukraine’s Donbas region, though has yet to automate any of its longwall installations.
Russian longwall equipment supplier OMT also falls into this position, though it is developing electro-hydraulic roof support control systems with OHE Mining Technology GmbH.
A source at OMT explains: “SEGU-A provides a high degree of automation at all stages of operation, including configuration of initial systems and constant diagnostics of electronic blocks, gauges, electro-hydraulic valves and cable connections during operation, flexible adjustment of functioning algorithms to suit client requirements and technical requirements for specific conditions.
“SEGU-A also provides personnel protection during mining operations by creating protective zones on the right and left of the operator location, which prohibit any operations initiated automatically or by a remote.
“The electro-hydraulic automated operations can include spray operations in a shearer functioning zone and canopy spray operation during roof support advancing.”