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Improving Roadway Development Performance – The Holy Grail for Longwall Sustainability (CM2010 Roadway Development Improvement Research Strategy)
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Improving Roadway Development Performance – The Holy Grail for Longwall Sustainability (CM2010 Roadway Development Improvement Research Strategy)


Gary Gibson, Project Coordinator, from ACARP Roadway Development Improvement Project delivered this presentation at 2012 Longwall conference in the Hunter Valley Australia. Building on eleven years of …

Gary Gibson, Project Coordinator, from ACARP Roadway Development Improvement Project delivered this presentation at 2012 Longwall conference in the Hunter Valley Australia. Building on eleven years of excellence it’s rare that such a large gathering of underground coal operators come together under the one roof, providing a great opportunity to catch up with friends, industry leaders, former colleagues and longwall mining specialists.
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  • 1. Improving Roadway Development Performance – Longwall’s Holy Grail Gary Gibson GaryGibson&ASSOCIATES
  • 2. ROLF  Remotely Operated Longwall Face  Lord Roben’s vision circa 1960  ROLF faces introduced into Newstead and Ormonde Collieries, Midlands UK in 1963  Advances in sensor, communications and processing technologies required before ROLF could be successfully applied  40 - 50 Years On  LASC  Longwall Automation Steering Committee (2000) – ACARP  Half of Australian longwall now fitted with or upgrading to LASC compliant longwall automation systems  First LASC system recently sold into USA Introduction: Longwall Automation
  • 3. Introduction: Longwall Automation Major benefits of longwall automation reported as:  Ability to integrate and systemise the entire longwall process coupled with improved monitoring and control of that entire system  Improved control, consistency and repeatability of operating functions, including improved face alignment  Improved cut and flit speeds throughout the cycle, including at gate- ends, resulting in improved and sustained production rates  Reduced process dependency on human factors (eg; no longer dictated by the speed of the shearer or support operators)  Reduced exposure of personnel to hazards on the face
  • 4.  My aim - to share a vision and build support for development of an integrated, automated, high capacity longwall gateroad development system  Hope to achieve this by: ► Review the business case for continuing roadway development related R&D ► Review the “enabling” technologies currently under development ► Examine the learnings from CM2010 R&D ► Review the opportunities and drivers for automation of roadway development  My opinions, and not necessarily those of ACARP and RDTG…! CM2010 Roadway Development R&D
  • 5. CM2010 Roadway Development R&D Vision  An integrated, remotely supervised high capacity roadway development mining system capable of sustaining a 15 Mtpa longwall mine with a single (gateroad) mining unit  System will also enable mining to be safely undertaken under adverse or extreme mining conditions, thereby opening up access to reserves previously considered un-mineable Measures  Sustained performance rate of 10 MPOH for 20 hours per day, based on installing primary support of 6 roof and 2 rib bolts per metre advance including roof and rib confinement (mesh)  Improved health and safety through reduced exposure to hazards in the immediate face area
  • 6.  In 2007 the business case was fairly simple: ► Longwall production capacity had doubled every 10 years since mechanised longwalls were introduced into Australia in early 1970’s ► Beltana was achieving 7 Mtpa - a 15 Mtpa longwall was considered feasible within 10 years ► Development rates had remained fairly static over those 40 years – despite attempts to build purpose designed roadway development miners ► Systems approach to process management had not realised its potential ► Studies showed that 3 entry gateroads would be necessary to manage rib emissions in development of higher capacity longwalls ► A desire to reduce the exposure of personnel to the hazards associated with roadway development process  The challenge – what developments in technology were required to enable high capacity longwalls be achieved and sustained? CM2010 Business Case
  • 7. If we roll 5 years onwards to 2012 appears that:  Higher capacity longwalls have and will continue to come to fruition ► However, infrastructure limitations and inability to achieve required development rates will limit their number CM2010 Business Case
  • 8.  Despite significant investments in new roadway development equipment roadway development performance has deteriorated ► best practice development rates fallen from +300 m/week/unit to 180-200 m/week/unit ► typical mines achieving 80-100 m/week/unit ► mines typically require 2 - 3, or even 4 development units to achieve longwall continuity CM2010 Business Case 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Less than 5,000 5,000-10,000 10,001-15000 15,001-20,000 20,001-25,000 Greater than 25,000 Roadway Development (m) Australian Longwall Mines 2011-2012
  • 9.  We have witnessed a significant increase in employment levels without a matching increase in either longwall production or development CM2010 Business Case 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 Production, Employment, Productivity and Value (FOB $A/t) NSW Underground Coal Mines 1991/92 - 2010/11 Employees Annual Production ('000 Tonnes) Raw Coal Per Employee Per Year (Tonnes) Ave Value Per Tonne (FOB $A)  93%  26%  33%  162%
  • 10. CM2010 Business Case Continuous Miner Operator  We continue to largely rely on engineering and administrative controls (eg; MDG 35.1) to control hazards at the development face
  • 11. Safety Implications • Equipment related injuries accounted for 2,149 injuries in NSW in 2005/08, equivalent to 46% of all reported injuries • Over half of all equipment related injuries incurred in roadway development • 37% of all equipment related injuries incurred on the continuous miner or when bolting on the miner Other 9% Hand held bolters 5% Transport 9% Longwall 15% Continuou s miner 27% Bolting machines 12% Load-haul- dump 16% Shuttle car 7%
  • 12. Safety Implications  Robin Burgess-Limerick estimates that 15% of all injuries could be eliminated through automation of roadway development
  • 13. CM2010 Business Case Again, if we continue our roll onwards to 2012  Does the goal of sustaining development of high capacity (15 Mtpa) longwall mines remain the primary driver for CM2010 R&D?  Or is it instead the other CM2010 goal of: “... improved health and safety through reduced exposure to hazards in the immediate face area ...”?  Complemented by a goal to increase operating effectiveness and development productivity?
  • 14.  Roadway development process in its current form is fraught with hazards: ► Exposure to variable and unstable ground conditions ► Possibility of outburst or ignition ► Confined or restricted work environments with people working in close proximity to moving and rotating equipment ► Extensive manual handling of strata support materials, hoses, cables, ducting and pipework ► Exposure to electrical and hydraulic energy sources ► Exposure to whole body vibration particularly in relation to the coal haulage function ► Exposure to human-machine interactions around equipment ► Exposure to noise and environmental factors including heat, humidity and dust Hazards of Roadway Development
  • 15.  Recent additions to suite of regulatory standards, guidelines, hazard management plans utilised to control these hazards include: ► A requirement to fit TRS to continuous miners to address hazards associated with falling roof material ► MDG35.1 to address the hazards associated with the manual operation of miner mounted bolting rigs ► Guidelines for Managing Musculoskeletal Disorders, and for Managing Noise and Fatigue ► Proposed guidelines for proximity detection and collision avoidance How Do We Manage Those Hazards?
  • 16.  Operators report a 15% or greater loss in development rates resulting from introduction of MDG35.1 The Result Elimination Substitution Engineering Controls Administrative Controls PPE  Appreciate that there has been some ground breaking evaluation of proximity detection and collision avoidance systems, but consider the practical implications arising of their fitment: ► the simple task of getting a sheet of mesh, bundle of bolts, box of anchors, or a vent duct will become …..?  Now becoming a business imperative to engineer or design out roadway development hazards as has been achieved through longwall automation
  • 17.  Roadway development process is highly subject to the vagaries of human performance, attitude, motivation, skills and organisation - nothing gets done unless an action is performed by an individual ► Requires concerted efforts of a number of people working both independently and interdependently to agreed procedures and standards to perform as a team to achieve an acceptable level of performance  Although there are stand-out exceptions, we are generally not very good at managing human performance and processes - requires discipline, persistence and perseverance  Longwall automation has systemised the longwall process and reduced the process dependency on human factors  Ultimately need to systemise roadway development and similarly reduce the process dependency on human factors to improve development performance Process Dependency on Human Factors
  • 18. CM2010 Focus – Enabling Technologies Remotely Supervised Continuous Miner Automated Installation of Roof and Rib Support Continuous and/or Automated Haulage Integrated Panel Services Improved Engineering Availability Planning, Organisation and Process Control People Behaviours and Skills Project Management of R&D Projects High Capacity Roadway Development System Engagement of Corporate Sector, OEMs, and Mines Key enabling technologies – ACARP’s primary focus Organisational capabilities and competencies – responsibility of mines Project implementation and management - ACARP’s secondary role
  • 19. Key Enabling Technologies  As with Longwall Automation, ACARP’s focus was the development of key enabling technologies – not development of a large all- embracing machine  Major initiatives then included: ► Self Steering Continuous Miner – CSIRO (C18023) ► Automated Bolt and Mesh Installation – UOW (C17018) ► Spray Applied Polymeric Skin Confinement (ToughSkin) – UOW (C17004/C20041) ► Self Drilling Bolt (Novobolt) – Ground Support Services  Subsequent projects have included: ► Rapid Advance Conveyor (RAC) – Oregate (C2035) ► Self Advancing Monorail – UOW (C2034) ► 10 MPOH Continuous Haulage Study (C21025)
  • 20. Developing core technologies for continuous miner automation, with particular focus on navigation (self steering) technologies and communications interfaces required for an integrated roadway development system CSIRO Self Steered Continuous Miner
  • 21. CSIRO Self Steered Continuous Miner High-performance inertial navigation meets most of the technology criteria (LN270) • Already proven in highwall and longwall mining automation (but higher performance required for CM automation) • Reasonably self contained (but needs some external aiding to meet performance targets) • Has the additional benefit of providing real- time accurate CM pitch/roll/heading information at the CM • Does not have long term stability without some aiding strategy • Need to develop a practical non-contact odometry solution for this to deliver a practical navigation system
  • 22. CSIRO Self Steered Continuous Miner  CM navigation system has been developed and a number of field trials have been conducted, including a mine-to-plan capability  Non-contact odometry solutions have been developed and field evaluated for velocity aiding of the inertial navigation system ► Ultra low speed radar (patent under preparation) ► Optical flow position sensor (like an optical mouse)  A skid steer vehicle (Phoenix) has been customised for evaluating the navigation system performance  Standards have been development for open- system data communications and interoperability  Underground testing proposed on a CM under real operating conditions
  • 23. CSIRO Self Steered Continuous Miner Results from testing of the Phoenix mounted CM navigation system navigating through a two entry gateroad layout at the Ebenezer Mine test site  ± 100mm cross track – matches and betters most deputies and CM drivers!
  • 24. CSIRO Self Steered Continuous Miner Where to from here – a few thoughts?  Field-proving of CM guidance system operating on a production CM  Seam following/horizon control based on natural gamma detection and new ground penetrating radar (GPR) technologies  Integrate CM guidance system output into CM controller to achieve full automation of the routine cutting/tramming cycle  Integrate CM guidance system output into roof and rib bolters so that desired bolting pattern can be achieved and/or recorded  Utilise CM guidance system output for haulage automation
  • 25. UOW Automated Bolting and Meshing  Developing technologies to integrate and automate 9 discrete manual functions using up to 8 different strata support consumables through 15 parallel handling processes : ► Roof bolts and washers (4 bolting rigs) ► Rib Bolts and washers (2 bolting rigs) - including provision for steel and/or “plastic” bolts and washers ► Roof mesh (steel) ► Rib meshing (steel)  Automated strata support is fundamental to full automation of the roadway development process and reducing exposure to hazards at the immediate face
  • 26. UOW Automated Bolting and Meshing From an automation perspective, roadway development has unique challenges which make automation difficult to implement, including:  Very confined roadway dimensions and working area access  Large number and range of awkward consumable materials being used  Intrinsically safe environment with limited approved automation devices available  Legacy design of miner equipment including multiple frame types  Continuous moving work stations and power availability  Adverse conditions – dust, water ingress, rock falls, vibration, corrosion….
  • 27. Where do you fit something new on here without interfering with the basic operation and maintenance?
  • 28. UOW Automated Bolting and Meshing
  • 29. Laboratory Demonstration Unit UOW Automated Bolting and Meshing
  • 30. UOW Automated Bolting and Meshing
  • 31. UOW Automated Bolting and Meshing Where to from here?  Components and programming upgraded to achieve a 4 min 30 sec cycle time – ensures a 10 MPOH target rate is achievable ► Includes ability to manipulate 2 roof bolts and associated washers either side simultaneously  Roof bolt and rib bolt and mesh handling system being duplicated to allow system to complete full face cycle (ie; 6 roof and 4 rib bolts/m)  All components and hardware ruggedised for underground operation  Components to be fitted to a modified mobile bolter to demonstrate complete system in above ground trials in simulated roadway – June 2013  IP/design solutions then to be made available to industry/OEMs
  • 32. Coal Clearance – Continuous Haulage  Study undertaken to identify suitable technologies/systems that could be utilised in a 10MPOH continuous haulage system for longwall gateroad development  Objective was to identify technologies or systems that could be satisfactorily integrated with the materials logistics function  Some 15 different technologies were evaluated with 5 technologies short listed for a more detailed evaluation Innovative Conveying Systems (ICS) Sandvik’s VACHS500)
  • 33. Coal Clearance – Continuous Haulage  Existing CHS systems now used in the industry are capable of sustained 10MPOH, however their size is likely to impact their efficient integration with the materials logistics function in gateroad development  Narrow Prairie Development Flexiveyor under development which may be utilised in conjunction with CT08 LHDs for materials re- supply Joy’s 4FCT Prairie/DMS Flexiveyor
  • 34. Coal Clearance – Continuous Haulage  Promising technologies identified in other industry sectors however the challenge is to apply them in a mobile, flexible, tight radius (6-9m) application  “Other” technologies typically comprise closed conveyor systems that require sizing of product ≤100mm, and a means of regulating product flow – sizer/surge hopper  Likely to require mounting onto a roof mounted monorail system  Also have large diameter (1.5m) head and tail pulleys that need to be incorporated into overall system Premron Enerka-Becker System (top) and Bosmin/ACE Co-axial Pipe Conveyor (bottom)
  • 35. Coal Clearance – Continuous Haulage Why continuous haulage?
  • 36.  Batch haulage is a psychological limiter on bolting cycle times - bolting cycles extend to utilise available time between cars - inculcates poor performance throughout full pillar cycle  Further, the development process is rarely under control Coal Clearance – Batch Haulage
  • 37. Coal Clearance – Batch Haulage  Batch haulage with SC still default coal clearance system, more than 25 years after first trial of continuous haulage systems in Australia  Studies and results from best practice mines show that:  7-8 MPOH may be achievable with a bolter-miner, a matched 2 SC coal haulage system, and use of self drilling bolts  Despite ergonomic improvements to SCs continued utilisation of manned SCs remains serious OH&S issue  Haulage constrained beyond 70m from boot-end, and at 7 MPOH  30 movements/hour, severely limiting face access and resupply  Capital costs of continuous haulage systems and existing investment in SC fleets may dictate development of SC auto-steering systems  Remotely operated SC steering systems developed at Tahmoor mid-1990’s as part of outburst mining system  Metalliferous sector routinely utilise autonomous/remote steering systems for operation of LHDs
  • 38. Face Services Management  Ventilation, power, water, pump-out, and communication services need to “managed” at the face and in access roadways  Monorail mounted services management systems have proven to have significant operational and OH&S benefits  How do you automate monorail advancement?  Continuous haulage mounted systems have also proved effective  How do you maintain those services at the face when the CHS is withdrawn?
  • 39.  The possibility for continuous miners to be self-steered using INS utilised in longwall automation is now within reach ► Coupling this technology with currently available auto-cut capabilities would allow continuous miner operating functions to be automated  Similarly, the possibility for automating the strata support installation process is now within reach with: ► Current development of automated bolt and mesh handling systems ► Coupling those systems with automated bolters and self-drilling bolts now available, or ► Potential application of automated bolting carousels for conventional resin anchored bolts  Significant potential to engineer-out and thereby reduce exposure to hazards in the immediate face area through automation of the roadway development process Key Learnings from CM2010
  • 40.  Continuing reliance on batch haulage systems and manually operated roof and rib bolters coupled with an improved focus on ergonomics has resulted larger and heavier in-place miners  Size and configuration of in-place miner ► Limits number and location of roof and rib bolters ► Limits number of bolters that can be operated concurrently ► Results in extended bolting cycles as support densities increase, and sub-optimal bolt placement ► Presents significant challenges to operators – a 12 hour flit or breakaway is not exceptional ► Limits extent of on-board storage of materials – which necessitates regular replenishment of strata support materials ► Limits the ability to retrofit new technologies such as automated bolt and mesh handling systems Key Learnings from CM2010
  • 41.  A new fit for purpose gateroad development mining platform is required, one which facilitates integration of roadway development process  Automation of strata support operations and removing operators from the bolting platform could also allow fitment of additional bolting rigs or improved bolt placement Key Learnings from CM2010
  • 42. Reconfiguration of an ABM20 to free-up space for fitment of additional bolting rigs and increased on-board materials storage Learnings from CM2010
  • 43.  Further enabling technologies required for automation of roadway development: ► Seam following capabilities as part of CM navigation system ► Integration of automated bolters with automated bolt and mesh handling systems ► Automation or remote steering of coal clearance systems – batch haulage (SC) or continuous haulage? ► Development of self-advancing capabilities for the monorail services management systems ► Integrated strata support materials handling systems ► Overall system integration Key Learnings from CM2010
  • 44. In summary, the key drivers for automation of longwall gateroad development are:  Reducing the exposure of personnel to hazards ► Designing or engineering-out hazards out of the development process  Getting the process under control and removing variation  System integration (what’s been achieved through longwall automation) Drivers for Automation of Development  Longwall sustainability through improved development rates
  • 45. Acknowledgements Special acknowledgement and thanks to the key researchers and their teams involved with ACARP’s Roadway Development Improvement research projects David Reid Mark Dunn Stephen Van Duin Peter Donnelly Luke Meers Kel Mews and Noel Noè Peter Wypch Matt Ryan Matt Lanigan Acknowledgements also to the various OEMs who have contributed illustrations including; Joy, Sandvik, Prairie, Premron E-BS, ICS, Herrenknecht
  • 46. The Vision – An Integrated System