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Stage Three Report: Automated Bolting And Mesh Handling On A Continuous Miner

Underground » Roadway Development

Published: March 14Project Number: C17018

Get ReportAuthor: Stephen van Duin, Peter Donnelly, Ian Oxley, Luke Meers, Daniel Gailer | University of Wollongong

Roadway development rates across the Industry are failing to keep pace with modern longwall systems and are unlikely to sustain further improvements in longwall productivity unless step change improvements to roadway development equipment and practices are realised. Bottlenecks which constrain improved production and impact the safety of operators have been identified through a series of industry surveys, with the manual installation of strata support materials off the continuous miner being identified as a major inhibition to improved development performance.  

Stage 1 of Project C17018 Automated Bolt and Mesh Handling commenced the development of first generation enabling technologies with the objective of automating current roadway development roof and rib support installation processes, with the joint aim of developing a high capacity roadway development system (10 MPOH advance rate) and removing personnel from hazards in the immediate face area, particularly those associated with working in a confined working environment in close proximity to rotating and moving equipment.

Stage 2 of the project continued development of these enabling technologies and culminated in a series of laboratory trials and demonstrations early 2011 that successfully demonstrated the various prototype manipulators that comprise the integrated strata support consumables handling system. Whilst these trials clearly demonstrated that the entire consumables handling function could be automated, they also identified a number of refinements which could improve both cycle times and system reliability. These refinements were progressively developed over the balance of Stage 2, including fully detailed engineering design and computer simulation of the second generation enhancements.

Stage 3 of the project extended the earlier stage objectives to manufacture and demonstrate the second generation automated bolt and mesh handling technologies and include additional automation which would simulate an entire one metre advance cycle (installation of 23 consumables) for both left and right sides of the machine. During the three month period between December 2013 and February 2014 a series of industry and academic above ground demonstrations where conducted to demonstrate and validate a complete full cycle, simulating five metres of unmanned roadway, and to bring the project to a point of "technology transfer" to industry. The demonstrations conducted were successful, with many key representatives from industry having the opportunity to view the operation in its entirety, provide feedback and express interest to progress the technologies commercially.

After the final surface demonstration using the mobile platform and simulated roadway, the University of Wollongong now aims to assist the transfer of intellectual property to parties interested in commercialising the technologies.

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