American–owned Alliance Resource Partners’ River View Coal Mine in Uniontown Kentucky is the largest mine of its type in the nation.
El complejo minero subterráneo ha estado en producción desde 2009 y emplea 18 mineros en turnos continuos con el método de explotación de cámaras y pilares.
La mina posee una planta de preparación con un ritmo de producción que alcanza 2.721 toneladas de carbón en bruto por hora, que produce residuos de carbón. Este material (conocido también como escoria de carbón y lechada FCR) se usa para construir presas de tierra que contienen el material que se bombea a la presa. La escoria de carbón se transporta al lugar y se vierte para luego extenderla con bulldozers.
While River View Coal mine’s engineer Mark Henshaw said the process wasn’t an issue at the site, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) ordered the mine pushing CCR into tailing pond to find a solution to remove the operator from the dozer. Although there were a few options available, River View Coal management chose to utilise remote control technology on its dozers.
El cliente tenía dos bulldozers operando, un Caterpillar D6T y un Caterpillar D8R. Otras empresas de tecnología a distancia le habían dicho a la Gerencia que era imposible adaptar el sistema a la antigua D8R, sin embargo, el equipo de RCT no tenía la misma opinión.
RCT is well-known in the industry for being able to adapt its technology to ANY MACHINE and was therefore keen to rise to the challenge of retrofitting its ControlMaster® Remote Dozer system (ATX2200) to the dozers. A rather challenging job that was successfully completed by RCT’s Custom team – a dedicated projects team with the resources and expertise to find the answers to problems and adapt current systems.
Si bien la implementación del sistema remoto en la D6T fue una instalación estándar, la D8R requirió una gran cantidad de hardware para su adaptación al funcionamiento a distancia.
RCT Custom Projects Manager John Androvich described the D8R installation as an extremely challenging job; however this didn’t discourage him and the team from tackling it head on.
"It was a massive task as the D8R was about 15 years-old so it was all mechanically controlled, whereas most new models we deal with today are now electrically controlled.”
- Gerente de proyectos de RCT Custom, John Androvich
The process required a collaborative approach; with the Custom team engaging with RCT’s development team, a hydraulics specialist and a machinist to hand-make some of the componentry.
Like every installation, it was integral that RCT didn’t alter any of the mechanics or functionality of the machine.
"It was important we maintained the mechanical feel for the operator,” he said.
"This involved converting the machine to electric, before converting it to hydraulic and then back to mechanical in some instances.”
Este proyecto no sólo fue el primero para RCT, sino que probablemente fue la primera D8R en la que se instaló un sistema a distancia.
"Because it was our first time we have remoted a D8R, there was no past history available to guide us, which is challenging in itself.”
Además, el equipo se esforzó por encontrar una máquina similar cerca en la cual probar el sistema.
"Eventually we were able to locate a similar dozer about 200kms away. However we only had access to it for a total period of four hours, so it was during this small timeframe that we had to do our design.”
"Testing the system also posed a difficulty, so we did as much bench testing as humanly possible.”
Mr Androvich credited his experienced team for the success of the job as the mechanical aptitude required to understand the machine was extensive.
"We are lucky to have such an experienced team here at RCT, so we were able to draw on this extensive experience to create something that other remote companies said was virtually impossible,” he said.
The RCT Custom team adapted the standard ControlMaster® dozer remote system to directly meet the client’s requirements.
Ambos sistemas permiten a los operadores controlar las máquinas a distancia, vertiendo la escoria en los depósitos de estériles desde una distancia segura, sobre suelo estable, usando la solución Línea Visual.
RCT’s solution eliminated potential risks as operators can now carry out their job without having to physically sit in the dozer to operate it – avoiding unstable areas and adhering to MSHA’s new regulation.
RCT has received extremely positive feedback about the job carried out at River View Coal.
"We have been told that the 15-year-old machine is now the preferred machine of use – we got a fair buzz out of hearing that! It’s a definite credit to the team,” Mr Androvich.
Another one of RCT’s strengths is that it documents each project in detail.
"We are now able to reproduce the system for similar machines in the future if required,” he said.
"My overall impression of RCT is that they are a very professional company with a reliable product – I’m very pleased. The D8R is an older machine and was a much more intense installation – they did a really good job in setting it up and within a couple of weeks it was up and going. We are very happy, RCT are very professional and very reliable and cost efficient.”
- Ingeniero de la mina River View Coal, Mark Henshaw