Underground » Mining Technology and Production
The principal objective of the project was to demonstrate that inertial navigation techniques could be used to accurately and independently survey the three-dimensional path of a longwall shearer throughout the mining process. This objective was successfully achieved and the significance for longwall face alignment and horizon control is discussed. It is shown that accurate shearer three-dimensional position and orientation measurements can be made using a military grade inertial navigation unit and an existing shearer-mounted odometer. From these measurements, the three-dimensional path of the shearer is accurately determined throughout each complete shear cycle. The horizontal component of this path contains the information necessary to maintain face alignment and absolute heading via proportional control of the chock advance mechanism. The accumulated three-dimensional position data represents an accurate survey from which a detailed model of the extracted seam is formed. Intelligent and adaptive horizon control methods can be developed based on this detailed model.
Some limitations of the guidance system trialed in this project and recommendations for future development towards commercialisation are presented. Inertial guidance represents a key enabling technology in the quest for advanced longwall automation. The findings in this report are a major step towards this goal.