Cat will relocate the production of several pieces of underground coal equipment to its facility in Houston, Pa. (above).

Caterpillar announced that it plans to move production of two product lines related to underground coal mining to the former Bucyrus facility in Houston, Pa. Cat acquired Bucyrus in July 2011. The company said it is in the process of updating and upgrading those facilities to manufacture its room-and-pillar coal transportation products now made in Pulaski, Va., a former Long-Airdox facility that was acquired by DBT before it was acquired by Bucyrus. Assembly of the Cat HW300 Highwall Miner will also move to the Houston facility. The machines are currently built in Beckley, W.Va., at a factory formerly owned by Superior Highwall Miners before it was acquired by Terex, and eventually Bucyrus.

“Underground mining segment is a key component of Caterpillar’s growth strategy, and we’re putting all the building blocks in place now,” said Paul Mulley, product manager for room and pillar and the highwall miner.

The Houston facility upgrades will address manufacturing and assembly areas. The changes will improve work flow and provide factory workers with a brighter environment. The plan is to physically separate the manufacturing and assembly areas. The Houston facility already uses the Caterpillar Production System.

“We are taking advantage of a slow period to make significant changes to our business,” said Robert Droogleever, segment manager for all underground products at Caterpillar.

In related news, Cat also announced that Polish coal mining company Lubelski Węgiel Bogdanka S.A. purchased its fourth complete Cat Plow Longwall system. All four longwalls center on the Cat GH1600 plow system, the same model that Bogdanka used to set plow-equipped longwall production records in 2012. The automated plow system achieved almost 25,000 metric tons of daily production from a single face, and the new system is expected to average 10,000 mt/d production from a 1.7-m seam.

A key to Bogdanka’s success in mining relatively thin seams is incremental plowing. The new Cat system, as well as the previous three, can cut to a precisely defined depth, set as a function of coal hardness, regardless of seam structure or faults. The cutting depth is electronically pre-set using accurate stroke sensors and an advanced software algorithm. Horizon control provides precise control of the plow angle, ensuring that the plow does not dig or climb unless required to do so by the seam geology. This allows the system to follow the seam-floor boundary accurately, as well as enabling it to follow undulating seams.