Tiefa becomes first mine in China with automated plow

DBT has installed China’s first automated plow at the Tiefa mine in Liaoning province. Within three weeks of operations beginning in January, the mine had produced 4000t ROM coal, believed to be a production record for a Chinese thin seam longwall.

Staff Reporter

DBT supplied Tiefa with the plow, plow running track, shield controls and advancing mechanism, while the rest of the system was supplied by Chinese manufacturers. Compatibility between the two sets of equipment has not been a major issue in spite of language and cultural differences.

DBT has entered China as a manufacturing company to retain control of its products and procedures. The more common route is for a mining machinery manufacturer to form a joint venture with a Chinese company or engage in technology transfer.

While DBT faced some unique challenges in taking its plow technology into China, the early success of the three year long project will serve as an operating model for DBT in future installations. Language and cultural barriers posed a challenge for DBT – which you ignore at your peril, said Harry Martin, DBT’s vice president, account management and global marketing.

Among the methods DBT used in the installation and handover of the equipment was commissioning a Chinese mining professor to interpret and translate the training manuals, thus avoiding verbatim translations of technical terms that are meaningless to end-users. The most significant success was achieved through hands-on training delivered by German service engineers and hands-on coal miners who operate plows at DSK mines in Germany.

“I know for sure if we sold this type of technology, which is not widely known outside of Germany, we’ll take the same approach and use hands-on operators as part of the training package,” Martin said,

To support its Chinese activities, DBT has built a manufacturing plant in China at Langfang, which will serve as a base for DBT’s full range of aftermarket services. The facility recently began manufacturing pans, using Chinese sourced steel that met DBT’s rigorous manufacturing standards.

A longer version of this article, which also examines growing interest in plow technology in the US, will appear in the March 2001 edition of Australia’s Longwalls.