Delivering the Remotely Operated Longwall

Underground » Mining Technology and Production

Published: July 22Project Number: C29028

Get ReportAuthor: Jonathon Ralston, Craig James, Samantha Thompson, Andrew Strange, Hayden Clarke, Trent Smythe, Jeremy Thompson, James Beyers, Mark Dunn, Peter Reid, Kevin Saric, Max Ferguson, Camrin Peacock | CSIRO

This report describes the process and outcomes of a project that aimed to accelerate the development of remotely operated longwall systems. The need to achieve fully remote longwall operations has been of major importance for industry in order to meet ongoing safety, productivity, operational, and sustainability issues. However, many of the essential monitoring and automation capabilities needed for the development of a remote longwall operation did not yet exist or remained at an early development stage. Practical challenges also existed in terms of identifying which activities would be of most benefit to industry and how best to conduct the research to maximise outcomes.

This project established a dynamic planning and implementation model which was designed to be more responsive to industry needs and opportunities. The project model was based upon a series of distinct “work packages” that were progressively selected by industry and implemented by the project team.

Based on extensive consultation with key project stakeholders, as well as insights from the industry-led strategic longwall requirement review in project C27055, the following priority development activities were selected as work packages in the project:

  • Maingate Horizon Tapering Control;
  • Lead/Lag Monitoring and Control;
  • Cross-Face Exception Monitoring;
  • Horizon Monitoring and Control: Industry Survey;
  • Horizon Profile Monitoring: Face Seam Observation; and
  • Horizon Profile Monitoring: Inferred Seam Boundary.

Importantly, the outcomes for five out of these six development activities have already been handed to technology providers for technology transfer.

The flexible work package model proved to be a highly beneficial approach for delivering research. Activities were more realistic and closely matched the dynamic priorities and schedules of the longwall industry. The model promoted higher levels of mutual trust and engagement from all stakeholders which resulted in better outcomes. The approach is highly recommended as an implementation model for future projects targeting similar levels of integration and impact scope.

The project highlighted important opportunities for ongoing high value research and development. These include further activities to support remote longwall operations, particularly geosensing technologies for horizon monitoring and control, as well as analogous work to address roadway development challenges and priorities.


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