Automation for Underground Mining

The quality and reliability of the automation system are key factors in the success of a longwall operation. Our automation systems set high standards for the control of underground mining systems. The PMC® (Programmable Mining Controls) family builds on the success of the PM 4 series by offering one-stop shopping for all controls and sensors for all components of a longwall system — with no interfacing problems.

State-of-the-art microcontroller technology and increased computing power allow a completely new dimension of automation, offering all the functionality you need for enhanced control of drives, roof supports and your plow or shearer. Our controllers are the future-oriented solution for maximum longwall productivity.

Key Features

All our controllers are developed to meet the following requirements:

  • Maximized automation throughout the longwall
  • Maximum production
  • Maximum underground safety
  • Optimum use of equipment
  • Overload protection for all components
  • Minimization of personnel in hazardous and contaminated areas
  • User-friendliness

NOTE: Models subject to regional availability. Please check with your local dealer for more information.


The PMC-R is based on the highly successful PM4 controller and features enhanced computing power and data transfer. We listened to numerous suggestions and requests from customers and delivered a leading-edge electrohydraulic controller that will continue to meet the requirements of mining operations long into the future.

Each PMC-R can control the entire longwall with a full version of the control software. This also includes all external factors such as position and speed of the plow or shearer, conveyor speed and chain tension. Each PMC-R installs itself independently in the longwall and can communicate with external computers. This means that an operator can control the entire longwall from any roof support.

 

In combination with Cat® Controlled Start Transmission (CST) drives, the PMC-D controller offers superior control of Armored Face Conveyor (AFC) drives. Measured values from the gearbox and clutch are balanced using established control algorithms, ensuring smooth and effective transmission of drive power. Not until the PMC-D was it possible to accomplish no-load startup of motors, loaded start of the conveyor, accurate load sharing between the drives, effective overload protection and comprehensive data collection.

 

The PMC-V is the user interface of the PMC-Ds and allows all face conveyor parameters to be set. The PMC-V can also display all parameters and error messages and undertakes communication with third parties for information such as power supply.

 

The PMC-P is a node computer that facilitates communication between the individual components as well as other mine computer networks and third-party products. In this way, machine data — such as for the shearer, roof supports and conveyors —  is collected along with any necessary corrective action to ensure optimum interaction of the entire system.

 

The VCU (Visualization Control Unit) is an easy-to-learn program package that, depending on scope, may contain the following programs: VShield, VPlow, VShearer, VDrive, VLongwall, VTrend and Longwall Performance.

This allows data on all components of a longwall to be collected and analyzed at a central computer, and controlled as required. The VCU can be installed in a longwall control center underground, in the vicinity of the longwall, or in a surface control room. This data enables process visualization, parameter management, data recording and remote maintenance.

 

The online vibration monitoring system VibraGuard allows trained personnel to predict machine component wear, avoid unplanned downtime and set alarms to warn the operator if monitored machine components run the risk of damage. The system offers permanent online monitoring and protection of your equipment status instead of temporary offline measurements to ensure long service life and high availability.

 

Caterpillar offers a Miner's Digital Assistant (MDA) to meet the need for sophisticated test and measurement equipment. The MDA is designed for use in network and maintenance tasks and in explosion-hazard areas. A serial port allows direct connection to embedded controllers such as Programmable Mining Controllers (PMCs), while a diagnostic port allows monitoring of communications and signal quality, as well as display of clients logged into the network. It is fully compatible with the PMC-P network.

The MDA can store service documents, product manuals and other information — or access these via the network — saving trips to the surface to view technical documentation. It can also store software programs and backups and drive controls, making it unnecessary to carry USB memory sticks or controllers.

 

The PMC Camera is a simple mine-duty camera that can be easily installed in a roof support, via "plug and play" integration into the PMC-R through a serial port. Providing additional functionality without extra cabling and infrastructure, it takes single-frame pictures within the hazardous area (e.g., headgate and tailgate). Pictures are sent on-demand to visualization or process applications (e.g., showing the shearer or plow position, conveyor load, or the position of roof supports at the longwall end).