Longwall USA 2011 preview: part 4

MORE than 100 industry companies are arriving in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for this year’s Longwall USA exhibition, which kicks off this week. Check out the final installment in our four-part series detailing some of the vendors you’ll find on the show floor.
Longwall USA 2011 preview: part 4 Longwall USA 2011 preview: part 4 Longwall USA 2011 preview: part 4 Longwall USA 2011 preview: part 4 Longwall USA 2011 preview: part 4

The attendance was strong for the first day of Longwall USA in Pittsburgh.

Donna Schmidt

The show is being hosted at the David L Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh from June 21-23. In addition to companies displaying the latest in mining products and services, five technical sessions are planned on topics such as face automation, health and safety and emerging technologies.

Some of the companies coming to this year’s Longwall USA include:


Fast and reliable data communication is an imperative, not a luxury. Yet it seems that from a procurement aspect, the least important consideration is communication distance and sensor processing speed.

Gas monitoring systems for methane and carbon monoxide can take an incredibly long time to cycle and respond to fast changing conditions – even minutes. A Rel-Tek gas detection system will provide more time for reaction and response, possibly averting a disaster.

At the fast end of the spectrum, Rel-Tek’s Flash Telemetry will do the job in less than a second.

The Rel-Tek exhibit at Longwall USA will demonstrate its 300-device/second Flash Telemetry throughput speed, sustained even for wireless links. A laptop PC on the stand will run Millennia-FT links to a remote outstation up to 400 feet away over its no-cost WiFi utility.

Of course, adding a remote radio and yagi antenna could extend this range to 20 miles, and optical fiber options could go even further at this speed.

However, significant to budgetary considerations, this same high-speed, 20-mile range can be achieved over a far cheaper medium – twisted-pair wires. At a tiny fraction of the price of fiber and radio repeaters, twisted-pair is an excellent choice for life-support applications such as underground mining, where reliability and fast response are critical.

Not only is twisted-pair inexpensive, it is far easier to troubleshoot and repair. Of course, Rel-Tek supplies systems with the client’s specific needs in mind but where cost and low maintenance are an issue the twisted-pair cable usually wins the day.

Rel-Tek manufactures complete atmospheric monitoring systems, not just bits and pieces. Its products lead the industry with outstanding performance, reliability and economy.

Rel-Tek’s atmospheric monitoring systems had the first US installations, the first approvals and the first CO approved sensors and barriers, and were the first to offer automatic calibration. Its unique automatic sensor calibration utility provides fast payback.

In addition, Rel-Tek’s toxic and combustible gas sensor approvals cover both pre and post-disaster usage; the company has over 125 MSHA and NRTL approval files.

American Mine Research

Located in Rocky Gap, Virginia, American Mine Research has provided cutting edge monitoring and control electronics to the surface and underground coal mining industries for over 35 years. From ground monitors and electronic circuit breakers to atmospheric monitoring and tracking and communications systems, AMR improves both safety and productivity through its total product line.

Where applicable, AMR’s products are MSHA approved. AMR has installed more than 70 of its latest Mine Net wireless tracking and communications systems throughout the US.

The Mine Net system incorporates Intrinsically Safe RFID tracking tags, two-way text messengers and 120-volt powered and line-powered tag and text readers. At the working section and longwall, the system utilizes AMR’s Portable Acquisition Devices, which are wireless transceivers that extend both tracking and text communications without the use of cables.

AMR is developing its next generation completely wireless and intrinsically safe atmospheric monitoring, tracking and communications (both voice and text) system, Mine Net Mesh. The new system will be unmatched in its capabilities, ease of use and installation.

In late 2010, AMR received an $800,000 matching grant from the State of Virginia’s Tobacco Commission to aid in the research and development of the new system and peripheral products. In early May 2011, AMR also began construction of a new 6000-foot addition to its existing facility in Rocky Gap.

The new addition will house new engineering and technical staff and a state-of-the-art product development lab and repair shop.

With the awarding of the Tobacco grant and the additions to both its facility and technical staff, AMR is poised to continue its tradition of developing products that dramatically improve the safety and efficiency of the world’s coal mines.

Tunnel Radio

Tunnel Radio will be among the exhibitors on the show floor at the June Longwall USA show displaying and speaking with attendees about its communications and tracking systems.

Tunnel Radio provides a single cable for both communications and tracking for operations, and the tracking function can be added to an existing cable backbone with UHF/VHF. It is also a true wireless system when and where it is needed most – at the face or longwall areas, and is easy to expand with simple tools, non line-of-sight capability, and an extremely strong network to meet MSHA requirements.

The systems provide several cost-effective factors, including an extremely low power draw that extends the life of batteries, triple readers that monitor three zones concurrently, the VHF/UHF capabilities, and the Multi-Hop solution, which allows for expansion of the network without expanding infrastructure.

Finally, Tunnel Radio provides proactive prevention for mines. Its new methane/CO/atmospheric monitors provide not only real-time continuous monitoring of critical gas and atmospheric conditions, but also have alarms which can be set to help alert the surface and underground personnel before an incident occurs.

Tunnel Radio is installed nationwide in over 40 coal mines.


Gemcom will be exhibiting at the Longwall USA 2011 event this week, presenting Gemcom Minex, the only geology mine planning software on the market completely dedicated to stratified deposits such as coal, providing a complete, integrated end-to-end solution.

From greenfield exploration through to mine rehabilitation, Minex has been successfully utilised at many of the world’s largest coal mines for more than 30 years.

Its seam modelling system has been refined over this period to be the fastest, most accurate tool to model strata-bound geology. With its gridded seam models feeding directly into the mine planning, optimisation and scheduling processes all within the one system, Minex drives productivity and process improvements across the mine.

Some of the key benefits of Minex include the enhancement of users’ ability to make more accurate and reliable technical evaluations, leading to better decision-making and increased productivity downstream. Unlike systems designed for base metals, Minex’s specialisation in stratified deposits means that it is faster and delivers more accurate results.

Also, it is one system, providing a lower total cost of ownership by reducing training costs and limiting the number of complex software packages users are required to learn. Data duplication is reduced, allowing for fewer opportunities to introduce data transfer errors between other software packages.

Visitors to the Gemcom booth can see a demo of the software and will be able to speak with the company’s services team to learn how they can assist them. An interactive DVD giving a complete overview of the software will also be available.

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