Underground » Mining Technology and Production
This report describes the outcomes of a six month research project to establish the rationale and functional requirements for an assistive guidance system for underground shuttle cars. The need for more effective coal clearance systems has been identified as a major component in ACARP's CM2010 initiative in order to improve the safety and performance of roadway development.
Shuttle cars are routinely used in Australia for managing coal conveyance during roadway development. Whilst key components of the roadway development process have seen increased introduction of technology solutions, to date shuttle cars have received very little attention. At present no commercial offerings or demonstrable research prototypes exist to provide assistive or remote capabilities to match developments in other roadway systems. This conveyance task is highly repetitive and entirely manual, and so is susceptible to a range of operational variability that impacts mining performance, efficiency and personnel. For these reasons, the introduction of systems to provide assistive and/or automated capability for shuttle cars is well motivated. In response to this shortfall, this report addresses three objectives:
- To analyse processes and interactions in typical roadway development environments;
- To undertake a gap analysis between current and required technologies; and
- To develop an architecture as a reference for industry and research use.
A review roadway development processes is first presented to provide background and context for the development. The role of the shuttle car is identified by reviewing the tasks associated with the shuttle car tramming between a continuous miner and conveyor bootend. A review of human-system factors is given to provide an integrated and balanced system design. An overview of key automation definitions, standards and architectures is presented to provide a consistent terminology and platform from which different automation approaches can be compared and assessed for their efficacy in providing a useful automation solution. A preferred implementation is then described as a means to implement the desired assistive shuttle car functionality. Key outcomes from this project are:
- A recommended automation reference design to direct the ongoing implementation and demonstration of a shuttle car guidance system as a subsequent staged activity;
- A summary table that maps vehicle class and desired automation level to a preferred automation architecture and system technology readiness at different automation levels.
The report provides a reference design and recommended implementation approach for developing the required assistive shuttle car system based on a separate Stage 2 project. The development of an assistive shuttle car automation system provides a clear and staged approach to achieve greater roadway automation capability. This development activity is well motivated as it directly complements current CM self-steering solutions developed for industry through ACARP CM2010 activities. Successful implementation will also provide new abilities to monitor, control and predict operational activity, particularly around haulage activity in order to further benefit consistent and continuous development operations.