Longwall Automation

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Benefits of Longwall Automation

What if you could improve your coal output by 90% or more without compromising safety or availability? These numbers are not fiction; these are production results from three mines running complete Cat® Longwall systems in Australia. One mine has set a production record by producing 330,000 tonnes (363,762 short tons) in a single week.

While the results above are astounding, we know that not every mine has the infrastructure to accommodate this volume of output. But longwall system automation is moving toward full gate end automation, teleremote operation and, ultimately, fully autonomous operation. With these advancements, the benefits of automation in underground mining go well beyond increased production.

Benefits of a Complete System

Putting a complete longwall system from Caterpillar to work has proven to be the best solution for the mines in Australia, where coal seams are thick and production demands require high capacity shearers like the EL3000. And Cat Longwall Automation solutions will work on all makes of roof supports.

Here’s a look at the intrinsically safe components that help achieve automation:

  1. PMC® Evo-S
  2. Cat Software
  3. High quality measurement technology

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Longwall Automation Brochure - Underground Mining


Automation can increase the speeds at which the shearer moves across the face. One mine was consistently improving this by 20% - moving the needle from 56 minute passes down to 44 minutes. At the end of the week, they had increased the number of passes from 68 to 91. With automation, you can record the perfect pass then duplicate this shearer configuration for as long as the geology stays consistent – we call this memory cut.

Further more, our more advanced technology packages make possible horizon control, extraction control and face alignment. Extraction control allows the machine to follow defined floor and roof profiles along the face, better following any given coal seam undulations for optimal extraction and production. At the same time, horizon control guides the machine to follow the seam undulations in the direction of advance. Face alignment keeps the face straight for consistent production and minimal wear of the conveyor system.

With automation controlling the shearer, conveyor, roof supports and beam stage loader, the mines in Australia saw benefits in increased wear life for the conveyor flights, shear pins and dog bones (conveyor connectors). Mechanical availability was elevated from 91% to 96.5% with a reduction in parts usages.

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Longwall Shearers Brochure - Underground Mining / Longwall Automation





Safety is the most compelling reason to research automation if you don’t already use it. Automation allows for one operator at the cutting face instead of two, and that one operator can stay inbye or on the fresh air side of the face. A camera system and health monitoring of the Cat shearer allow the operator to stay off the face more often; out of the dust, noise and hazard areas. In addition, the Cat Quad Lighting System can pin point where a problem is cropping up and at which roof support.

This paper details the use of Cat® Detect Personnel for Longwall, addressing a critical aspect of safety in longwall automation.

Keep Your Operators Safe
Cat Detect Personnel for Longwall Brochure - Underground Mining / Longwall Automation / Safety

Success Story: Russian Longwall Mine Sets Production Record

With the help of a specially tailored Cat® Longwall System and Longwall Automation, the Russian Yalevskogo mine operated by the Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK) recently surpassed the national monthly coal production record.

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Russian Longwall Mine Sets Monthly Production Record With Help From Cat Longwall System and Automation
Cat®: The World's Broadest Range of Underground Mining Equipment

As miners go deeper underground to provide the materials on which the world depends, they need safe, reliable equipment designed to handle demanding conditions.

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