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Chapter

AUTOMATION

OF A MOBILE

10

MINER

by John Turnerand David Carey


Chief Engineer, Mobile Miner Division
PLC Systems Manager

The Robbins Company


Kent, Washington

ABSTRACT
The Robbins Mobile Miner demonstrates the successful combination of hard
rock excavation technology and the latest electronic control technology. The
mobile miner, a partial face hard rock tunneling machine, features a fully
integrated control system relying on a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC).
This PLC controls all functions: tramming, steering, boom swing, cutting depth,
conveyor operation, air scrubbers, hopper loading and unloading, etc. The
of all
machine is fully instrumented allowing the PLC to monitorthe results
commands on a continuousbasis,to recorddata,to evaluatedeveloping
problems,or to shutthemachinedown if necessary. The paper describes the

development of the Robbins - Pasminco automated mobile miner and early


testing at Pasminco Minings Broken Hill Southern operations, New South
Wales, Australia.

INTRODUCTION
The Attraction of Automation
The proven results of automation in mills and factories the world over are
compelling reasons to seek automation for any generally repetitive process. Why
has application of this technology been so slow developing in hard rock

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excavation? Canplant type automation concepts workinthe rugged underground


hard rock environment? What advantages can automation bring to this work?
The list of potential advantages is compelling and hard to ignore:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.

Increased precision of operation


Reduction of physical labor
Increase in speed of operations
Increased safety of men and equipment
Reduction of cost of the work
Possibility of continuous operation
Reduction in total manpower
Faster trouble shooting
Ease of altering an operation
Increased efficiency in completing complex operations
Fast response to complex input information
Improved working environment for men and equipment

Is it possible to argue that these kinds of results are less desirable in hard rock
excavation work than in other lines of work? Of course they are equally
desirable. Why has automation technology not found wide acceptance in our
industries?
The most probable reason is the common opinion that the
underground environment is too severe. So what has changed that might make
this kind of development feasible now when it has not found acceptance in the
past? That answer lies partly in the functional design of the mobile miner but
equally in recent developments in automation equipment and improved installation
procedures which address the hazards of the hostile underground environment.
Slow Development of Automation
Automation of hard rock mining and tunneling has developed slowly. While
the civil hard rock tunneling industry has moved determinedly toward mechanical
excavation, very little progress has been made in the way of automation until very
recently. In mining the progression from rail oriented drill and blast systems to
trackless systems in the 1960s certainly increased mechanization at the face but
seemed to move away from automation. The new system actually multiplied the
number of independent operations and thereby increased the number of men and
vehicles required to keep the ore moving out of the mine. Some progress has
been made over the years in partly automating jumbos so that one technician can
manage all the drills on the machine. While automatic positioning systems are
common, only recently have drills with automation features come into common
use.

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Coal Miners/Tunneling Machines


Undoubtedly the most automated mining operations are coal mines, where
continuous miners connected to extensive conveyor haulage systems take product
from the underground face to the surface in a continuous operation. But even
here the inconsistencies of the underground environment call for constant attention
from human technicians. Modem tunnel boring machines linked to conveyors
which carry the excavated rock out of the tunnel are the closest similar
development in hard rock excavation. However, these systems are normally
manually controlled and rely heavily on the expertise and judgement of a large
crew of support personnel. Hard rock mines have been slow to exploit the high
speed development capability of the tunnel boring machine. Only recently have
mining companies incorporated tunnel machines into their long term development
planning. Stillwater Mining, Nye, Montana employed a 4. lm diameter machine
for development work in 1988-89 (Tilley, 1988). Currently, Magma Copper will
drive the extensive peripheral access drifts for their new Kalamazoo ore body
development with a 4.6m diameter machine.
Mobile Miner
The Mobile Miner is the first hard rock mechanical excavation system to
combine the rock cutting ability of the tunnel boring machine with the flexibility
of a continuous miner. The mobile miner is a completely self contained heading
machine for hard rock. (Figure 1) Its single rolling disc cutters are able to
penetrate a wide range of hard rocks. The mobile miner delivers the excavated
rock in the form of small size, easily transportable, graded chips at the rear of
the machine, only a few meters behind the working face. It eliminates the cycle
of drilling, loading, vacating, firing, ventilating, mucking, and hauling required
by typical hard rock tunneling operations. The mobile miner is the first hard
rock boring machine to incorporate features like flat floor excavation, (Figure 2)
short turn radius (20m), adjustable excavation cross section, and self tramming
capabilities.
The mobile miner is a versatile hard rock tunneling machine that uses
automation technology to reduce manpower, to optimize rock cutting efficiency,
to control excavation cross section, and to efficiently manage all excavation
support functions (conveyors, scrubbers, hydraulic system, water system, truck
loading, steering, regrip, etc.). The mobile miner has emerged concurrently with
a wide range of reliable, rugged, and flexible automation devices which are
essential for a reliable automated system. The combination of proven hard rock
cutting technology adapted from civil rock tunneling and improved automation
components are literally breaking new ground in the mobile miner application.
The mobile miner features the latest on board automatic control, diagnostic, and

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Figure 1. Mobile Miner

Model 130 at Pasminco Southern Operation

AUTOMATION

OF MOBILE MINER

Figure 2. Hard Rock Tunnel Bored with Mobile Miner

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data recording systems. Automatic operation was s~ifiti


by Pasminco with
the aim of maximizing productivity. This objective is an equally urgent matter
in the competitive underground construction arena.

FUNCTIONAL DESCRIPTION AND PLANT OPERATION


The Robbins - Pasminco Mobile Miner Model 130-3002 consists of a cutting
module and a service module connected by a powered, articulated hitch. (Figure
3)
CUTT1ffi
MODULE
.

/
/,
/\%
/
,/ i% ,/

SUPPU?lMODULE

Figure 3. Mobile Miner Model 130 General Arrangement

Cutting Module
The cutting module consists of a thin cylindrical wh~l on the periphery of
which is mounted an array of rolling disc cutters. The wheel is rotated about a
horizontal axis by means of two 250 KW motors located one each side of the
wheel. Each motor drives through a bevel and planetary gear set resulting in a

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fixed wheel speed. The wheel is mounted on a swing boom permitting lateral
motion of the wheel which is effected by swing cylinders, one each side.
The boom is mounted on a main beam. The main beam has at its front a
rolling stabilizer system and at its rear a gripping and thrusting mechanism.
Together these provide reaction for the cutting forces. The gripper is configured
to allow lateral and vertical motion while gripped, thus facilitating steering
maneuvers about the rolling stabilizer fulcrum. A muck apron with star wheels
is attached to the front of the main beam and crowds the muck toward the face,
while paddles on the periphery of the wheel deliver the muck to a central
conveying system.
Conveyors elevate and transport the muck to a storage
hopper at the rear of the machine. The latter provides surge capacity for
operation with haul trucks.
Service Module
The service module is isolated from the vibration effects of rock cutting by the
articulated joint and provides a relatively benign mounting platform for the motor
control center, electrical cabinets, control station, hydraulic power unit,
lubrication system, dust control system, air compressor and the fire protection
system. In addition it supports the surge hopper and hopper loading conveyors.
Machine Condensed Specifications
Machine Style
Application
Excavation Shape
Excavation Height
Excavation Width
Excavation Area
Flat Floor Width
Cutter Wheel Diameter
Cutter Wheel Speed
Cutter Wheel Power
Primary Cutter
Gage Reamer
Cutter Thrust Rating
Face Cutters
Gage Reamers
Maximum Swing Angle
Minimum HonzontaJ TR

Horizontal Axis Cutter Wheel


Vertical Axis Swing Boom
Stope, Ramp and Drift
Development in Hard Rock
Rectangular
4,1m
5.5m - 7.9m
20m2 - 30m2
3.4m-4.4m
4,1m
15 RPM
500kw
431mm disc
330mm Carbide Button
32 Tonnes
6
6 Left, 6 Right
90 Degrees (+/- 45 Degrees)
20m

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Minimum Vertical TR
Stroke Length
Resetting Time
Tramming Method
Tramming Speed
Tramming Grade
Tramming Turning Radius
Machine Weight

80m
750mm
2 minutes
Tandem Crawlers with Powered Hitch
0.6km/hr
14%
20m
265 Tonnes

Automation Equipment
Promammable Logic Controller (PLC) - The PLC started life as a replacement
for relay panels in the automobile industry in the early 70s. Since then, as with
all electronic equipment, they have become smaller, faster and more capable.
The PLC system selected for the mobile miner was Allen Bradleys PLC 5
system and in particular the 5/40 processor was selected for its high speed and
computational ability.
All of the sensors and actuators required to provide control and protection of
the machine are connected to the PLC with exception of the various fire detection
devices and the ground faultiover current protection for the main supply.
All inputs to the PLC are monitored approximately 25 times per second and
output responses to changing input conditions will normally occur within one
program scan (40 milliseconds).
The programming language used for the PLC was the well tried and easily
understood ladder diagram or ladder logic. Complex program constructions
were avoided where possible to ensure that technicians at the mine would be able
to understand the program and be able to use the PLC as a fault finding tool.
Sensors - Inputs to the PLC were provided by a variety of different sensors
including:
Linear Position (of hydraulic cylinders)
Pressure
Temperature,
Level (of gearbox oil using optical type device)
Level (of oil reservoir using linear position)
Level (of cut rock in hopper using microwave device)
Position (of various devices using proximity switches)

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Actuators - Outputs from the PLC controlled a variety of actuators including:


Hydraulic Solenoid Valves
Hydraulic Proportional Valves
Solenoid Valves for Air and Water
Contractors and Motor Starters
Audible and Visual Warning Devices
ODerator Interface - Operator interface to the machine was provided via an Eaton
Panelmate III, color VDU with membrane touch keypad for data entry and
operator selection of pages and control functions. There were only four other
control devices at the control station: an alarm silence button, an emergency
stop button, a master control relay reset button and an inch mode keyswitch.
Personal ComDuter - In addition to the operator interface VDU, an industrially
hardened personal computer (Allen Bradley T60) was installed at the control
station. The justification for the installation of this computer was the extensive
instrumentation/monitoring/data logging program which was planned for this
machine. This computer also provides a permanent PLC program access facility
on the machine and after the instrumentation program was completed it was used
to log and display information to the machine attendants on the performance of
the rock cutting optimization software.
Installation of Automation Devices - For the field devices, there are certain basic
assumptions which must be made regardless of how good, how expensive or how
robust the device is. These are:
1) If a rock can fall on it, it will.
2) If its big enough to step on or convenient enough to be used as a hand
hold it will be.
3) It will be subject to regular hose down, and constant dripping water.
4) Dust, grease and hydraulic oil must alSO be dealt with.
Experience has shown that the devices which last longest will probably be
solid state, have NEMA4 dust and water jet, (IP65) protection or better, be
correctly installed to manufacturers recommendation, be protected from anything
falling but allow easy access to both device and terminations for inspection and
testing.
These insights into the nature of the environment in which the components
would have to work led to some novel installations. For instance, many cylinders
required a linear position transducer. Two somewhat different solutions were
used to suit the particular cylinder application. One approach was to install the
transducer within the body of the cylinder itself. (Figure 4) The other approach

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Figure4.

Linear Position Transducer in Actuator

was to install the transducer in a hardened cylinder-like housing for protection,


with the movable housing jacket driven by the cylinder being monitored. (Figure
5) These installations have proved to be extremely reliable.

RE~EAIE

PROTECTIVE
COWR

/SCNSIRINPROTECTIVE
WSING

Figure 5. Linear Position Transducer Hardened Installation

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WHY AUTOMATE?
There were many good reasons to automate the Robbins-Pasminco mobile
miner, too many to discuss in the limitations of one paper. The following four
areas are some of the more important.
Unattended Operation
The primary impetus for automation of the Pasminco mobile miner came from
experience gained from the prototype machine used at Mt. Isa Mines,
Queensland, Australia (Willoughby, 1991). (Figure 6) Comprehensive data
logging was undertaken during the drivage of an 1,100 meter decline and this data
highlighted the fact that a significant portion of mining delays were attributable
to normal mining practices.

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These practices included mandatory evacuation of the work site at mid shift and
between shifts for blasting. It was apparent that a system which allowed safe
unattended operation of the machine would improve overall utilization by as much
as 25%. It was also recognized that a fully automatic machine offered the
potential for reducing crew size as there would be no need for an technician to
be occupied full time in driving the machine.
Rock Cutting Optimization
A second reason to incorporate automated control came from the fundamental
rock cutting system of the mobile miner. The mobile miner has the ability to
vary kerf spacing by controlling the boom swing velocity. Excavation rate is
controlled by maximizing the cutter spacing to penetration ratio. Thus, if
properly managed, the machine could be tuned to take advantage of varying rock
conditions by adjusting the traverse speed of the cutter wheel to suit the rock.
Such precision control within a single cutter wheel sweep was considered too
complex for manual control.
Variable Tunnel Width and Gage Cutting
A third motivation to automate arose from the need to improve boom swing
control for cutting variable width cross sections. Early attempts to control the
swing end points by purely hydraulic means had given unsatisfactory results and
the prototype miner was fitted with mechanical stops which had to be adjusted to
vary tunnel width. In addition, increasing or decreasing the tunnel width must
be done in a carefully controlled manner to avoid damage to components of the
butterhead. This gradual adjustment is difficult to control manually.
Machine Protection
To obtain efficient cutting of the rock extremely stiff actuators are required.
Although recent developments in mechanical actuators together with synchronized
control offer potential, the hydraulic jack remains the actuator of choice. To
maximize stiffness low pressures are mandated. This results in oversize jacks
which have the capability of overloading the machine. Automation offered the
potential to better manage the overcutting and prevent this problem.

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DID THE AUTOMATION WORK?


We will now discuss the actual results of the four main areas identified above.

Unattended Operation

In practice at the Pasminco site the mobile miner was operated by one person.
Once the machine was started this one technician was free to move around the
machine to carry out inspections and to do routine minor maintenance (e.g.
change grease barrels, prepare for services extension etc. ).
In the event that a problem in the machines operation was detected by the PLC
the technician would be advised by audible and visual warnings that he should go
to the control station. There the cause of the shutdown or the warning would be
available to him on the display screen as both an English language text message
and as a graphic indication.
Muck removal from the MM130 was by means of 25 and 35 ton trucks. The
surge hopper on the machine held 8m3 of muck. Discharge of muck into the
trucks from the machines surge hopper was normally initiated by the truck driver
using a hand held infra-rcxl pushbutton station (similar technology to TV remote
control).
Evolution of the Svstem - Later in the development phase, facility was also
provided for the truck driver to initiate a self canceling automatic discharge. This
would allow the truck driver a certain amount of time to assist the machine
technician if necessary or to perform other tasks without having to be continually
watching for the hopper to be full.
A second significant automation which occurred part way through the
development phase was that of the regrip sequence. The regnp cycle would occur
approximately every 30-40 minutes under continuous mining conditions. Initially
the process required the technician to go through a 12 step procedure of retracting
and extending the various cylinders.
htional Seauence for Bad Ground - The automation of the regrip provided two
levels of operation, full automatic and semi automatic. In full automatic mode
the regrip was initiated as soon as the plunge cylinders completed their stroke and
carried right through to, and included resumption of mining.
Semi automatic mode was intended to be used in bad ground where some
inspection and adjustment could be necessary before re-application of the roof

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gripper.Operation
was virtually the same as full automatic mode except that the
audible warning was sounded at the beginning of the regrip cycle to summon the
machine attendant and an input was required at the control station to continue the
cycle and restart mining.

Plans are for eventual employment of extendable conveyor haulage. If the


machine were to feed into a conveyor system the regrip control could be further
enhanced to do multiple regrips and thus more easily run continuously through
the one and a half hour shift change periods.
This combination of automatic muck discharge and automatic regrip system
allowed the whole crew to vacate the mine for meal and shift changes but to leave
the machine running. This was true unattended operation. The machine was able
to run for up to 30 minutes depending on cutting rate, limited only by total truck
and hopper storage capacity. On return the truck driver would initiate the second
discharge of the material from the hopper and the machine would immediately
and automatically recommence mining. Due to truck sizes the second hopper load
could not be automatically discharged without moving the truck forward. If
trucking were to be the permanent means of muck removal an indexing
mechanism to move the truck forward to collect the second load would be
feasible.
Attaining Rock Cutting Optimization

Cutting rock with disc cutters has been the subject of intense study for forty
years. One of the more obvious aspects of disc cutting is that the greater the
width of the rock chip produced by the cutter, the more efficient will be the
system, ie., the system specific energy will be lower. It is also postulated that
the chip width to thickness ratio is a rock property and has an upper limit such
that if the spacing/penetration ratio becomes too large, contiguous chipping will
not occur.
This critical aspect ratio is difficult to quantify, and since the rock type may
vary widely on any job, rotary tunnel boring machines with fixed spacing are
unable to exploit changes in this property and must be designed such that the
spacing is suitable for the most difficult rock to be encountered.
It was early recognized, and in fact was a major consideration in the selection
of the configuration of the mobile miner, that this ability to vary the kerf spacing
was a large step forward in the mechanical excavation of rock.
To exploit this potential it would be necessary to manage swing velocity (and/

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or butterhead speed) and penetration depth, within the limits of machine power
and thrust. This is a task, as will be seen, that could not be achieved without
automatic control.
Several control algorithms were developed and tested.
systems were run extensively with positive results.

The following two

Ratio Control - The geometry of the mobile miner is such that the penetration of
the cutter varies sinusoidally with the boom swing angle. (Figure 7) In addition
the boom swing cylinders, if supplied with oil at a constant rate, will produce a
sinusoidally varying swing velocity. To provide a constant kerf width to
penetration ratio, it was necessary to control the pump delivery to be proportional
to the square of the cosine of the boom swing angle.

Figure 7. Mobile Miner Cutting Geometry

The method of control using this control algorithm is known as Ratio


control as it maintains a constant chip aspect ratio. In homogeneous ground this
method provides the optimum method of cutting. Control is basically by
adjustment of plunge depth and chip aspect ratio to utilize on board power within
cutter load limits.

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Face MamJing - Where ground conditions are not homogeneous a method of


control known as face mapping is used.
For the face mapping method of control, the rock face is logically (i.e. within
the PLC) divided into a number of vertical sectors. Maps are created with data
storage sections reflecting the individual sectors of the face. One map stores
pump stroke information, another stores motor current information. The essential
concept of this method is that the values held in the pump stroke map are altered
according to conditions found during the cutting process.
In practice this means that if for example the left side of the face is soft and
the right hand side hard, the butterhead can move more quickly in the soft rock
and more slowly in the hard rock. If ratio control were to be used, the plunge and
chip aspect ratio would have to be set at values suitable for the harder rock and
thus productivity on the left side of the face would be limited.
Before commencing cutting in face mapping mode the pump stroke map is
initialized, ie., a set of values is loaded into the 20 storage locations for use
during the first 2 swings. The initial values are determined using a maximum
value of pump stroke entered by the machine technician and will provide a pump
stroke profile the same as would exist under the ratio control formula discussed
above, if the maximum value under the ratio control regime were the same as the
value entered for initialization.
Once butterhead swing commences under mapping control the electric
current drawn by one of the butterhead motors is measured every PLC scan
(approximately every 40 milliseconds), multiplied by the time for the scan and
accumulated. At the end of the sector this accumulated ampere-milliseconds figure
is divided by the time taken for the swing to pass through the sector, resulting in
an average current for the sector. This figure is then stored in the appropriate
location in the appropriate submap, the actual location depending on sector and
swing direction.
If the boom is swinging right to left, as soon as the sector current has been
stored for the right to left direction, an unweighed arithmetic average of the left
toright current and the right to left current for the sector just exited is calculated.
If this average value is less than 25 amps no further action is taken. If the average
value is greater than 25 amps (taken to indicate that the butterhead was actually
cutting rock), the average is compared to a setpoint current for that sector. If the
average is greater than the setpoint, the pump stroke value for that sector is
altered according to an inverse relationship of amps to percentage pump stroke,
unless the adjustment takes the pump stroke above the value which would be used
for that sector if the machine were in Ratio control using the same plunge and

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chipaspectratiosettings
in which casethepump strokek limitedto thisvalue.

The face mapping control strategy described above is the result of extensive
experimentation and appears to be reasonably effective in the variable ground
conditions found on the 5 level at Broken Hill. Blocky ground presents a
particular challenge to this strategy which as yet has not been satisfactorily
resolved.
Attaining Variable Tunnel Width and Controlled Gage Cutting

As a result of the experience gained with the prototype machine, the swing
cylinder stiffness on the Pasminco machine was greatly increased, and it was felt
that with the control capacity of a PLC, boom control in gage would be
overcome. The initial plan was to simply ramp down the flow to the cylinders
near the gage position, prove the position by a signal from the swing cylinder
position transducers, then initiate plunge and swing reversal simultaneously.
Unfortunately lack of stiffness produced a long dwell time in gage resulting in
unacceptable machine vibration.
The problem was solved by changing the control scenario to an adaptive
method where the point of initiation of the slow down ramp was based on the
value used last time, modified by an amount proportional to the difference
between the desired widest position and the actually achieved widest position for
the last cut of this gage. The plunge was initiated at the same time as the ramp
down, and swing reversal was allowed only when the swing speed had ramped
to 20% and the plunge had achieved its nominal depth. The configuration of the
machine and the timing of the initiation of the plunge were such that the plunge
forces actually assisted the cutterwheel in gage cutting. A major advantage of
this method (as well as solving the original problem) was that because the system
was adaptive it could compensate for changes in rock hardness in gage.
Tunnel width adjustment was a required function of the mobile miner for
variousoperations.
Unlessthetunnelwidthbeing mined was seven meters or

greater it was necessary to widen either or both sides for the machine to mine
minimum radius (20 meter) turns.
In order to prevent damage to the cutterwheel it was necessary to control
accurately the rate at which widening or narrowing took place. With the PLC
available, the desired swing width could be gradually increased or decreased, and
combined with the adaptive gage cutting control, extremely smooth transitions
were achieved.
For the machine technician the task was made very simple. All he had to do

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was to enter the chainage at which the widening should commence, enter the final
tunnel width and the widening rate and the PLC would take care of everything.
That the above changes were accomplished with no loss of production time or
modifications to hardware demonstrates the power and flexibility of software
based control systems.
Attaining Machine Protection

The large jacks mandated by stiffness requirements have the capability to


loads for which the structure cannot be economically designed. Two
sources of machine potential damage are defined.
sustain

1) If the upper set of gripper cylinders are extended without being opposed
by the lower, unacceptably high loads will be induced in the structure.
2) The mobile miner is plunged forward into the rock at the end of each
swing after which the swing is re-initiated in a reverse direction. Due to
the large stiff actuators very high forces may be induced. In softer rock
structural loads are limited by the butterhead drive motor capacity. That
is to say, the ratio of drag force to thrust is high and the motors will stall
prior to the cutter radial forces becoming too large. In harder rocks this
effect is diminished and can lead to high cutter forces and high structural
loads before motor stall occurs.
With the incorporation of strain gages in the boom swing pins and the use of
PLC control these situations were averted.
ATTENDANT BENEFITS OF THE AUTOMATION SYSTEM
Once the machine was equipped for automatic operation the resources were
available to provide many additional benefits without significant further
investment. These built in features enhanced the performance capability of the
mobile miner.

Increased Speed of Operation


The mobile miners PLC is efficient in handling the complex and repetitive
tasks and sequences of operation which are necessary for highest productivity.
In normal boring operations routine machine sequences are carried out on a
regular basis without technician intervention. The PLC can not only handle
complex tasks but will repeat them flawlessly time after time at speeds far beyond

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those possible with a human technician. The end result has been less delay and
more productive boring time.
Faster Trouble Shooting
The built in diagnostic system with on-screen alarms and warnings greatly
reduces down time by simplifying trouble shooting and providing technicians with
immediate information on fault location.
The data logging system on the machine records all alarm and warning
information and all machine stoppage time. From this information a history of
persistent problems can be developed and suitable remedies found.
Cost Reduction
The customary machine operator becomes a plant technician capable of
performing tasks which would be performed by an additional person if the
technician were tied to the machine console. The technician is charged with
overseeing the machine and anticipating its needs, thereby avoiding downtime or
damage. While not yet installed on the Model 130, automatic rock bolting
equipment will eventually replace the hand held stopers now in use. It is
conceivable that these drills may be serviced by the same machine technician
rather than an independent drill operator.
Ease of System Modification
As discussed earlier in the paper there have been many changes in operation
of the machine during the development phase. (For example, automation of the
regrip sequence, the development of gage cutting control, etc.). Most of the
modifications to the machines operation were ctied out by software change
only. The advantage of this is that new schemes can be tested and if they don t
work it takes only a matter of minutes to revert to the original scheme.
ImprovedWorking Environment/ Reduced Manual Labor

The working situation is analogous to an underground plant. The complete


system is packaged for ease of maintenance. Manual labor is limited to cutter
changing, machine servicing, and ground support related activities when required.

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CONCLUSIONS
1. AUTOMATED hard rock tunnel driving is being achieved by the mobile
miner at Pasminco.
2. AUTOMATED and unattended machine operation is entirely feasible and has
been demonstrated.
The mobile miner has completed 275 meters of drivage at this writing. (Bad
ground has curtailed operations temporarily while an improved roof shield is
developed and installed. This work has been completed and operations are about
to be restarted.)
Many more meters of drift will be necessary to fully demonstrate the ultimate
benefits of mining machine automation. Those benefits are rapid boring and high
machine utilization under typical mining conditions. But there is ample evidence
already that automation of an underground hard rock mining machine is feasible;
that the automation equipment, if properly chosen and installed, can survive and
function in the underground environment; and that automation offers the mining
industry the same benefits that other industries have enjoyed for decades.

REFERENCES
Tilley, Cherie M., 1988, Tunnel Boring at the Stillwater Mine, Nye, Montana,
Proceedings of the Rapid Excavation and Tunnel Conference (RETC), June, Los
Angeles.
Willoughby, Rick, 1991, Pasmincos Expectations of the Mobile Miner,
International Symposium on Automation, Colorado School of Mines, June,
Golden, Colorado.