Increasingly, coal operators are demanding online condition monitoring (CM) for their longwall equipment, so PMC-D functionality has been extended to fulfill that requirement. A digital signal processor (DSP) module plugged into the controller’s I/O board converts incoming acceleration data into spectrum data, which is then transferred to a service PC. The PC runs special VibraGuard visualization software which evaluates and visualizes the data. This allows trained personnel to make predictions about wear of machine components, helping to avoid unplanned downtime. Also, alarms can be set to warn the operator if monitored machine components run the risk of damage.

The complete VibraGuard package—including PMC-D/20, vibration sensors and the software—is only available for Bucyrus underground mining systems and is currently in service for AFCs, stage-loaders and crushers. It will be made available for other equipment, such as shearers, belt systems, fans and continuous miners, in the near future. Bucyrus VibraGuard system is based on MineSafe software and developed jointly with DMT, a German engineering consulting company.

The first installation of the new system is at Arch Coal’s West Elk mine in Colorado. This installation started underground operation end of 2008. A second system for this mine is in delivery phase now.

According to Bucyrus, this Vibration Monitoring is one more element of an extensive package of the company’s VSoftware package already allowing many monitoring and analyzing features and will be completed by further CM tools to be developed and rolled out in the future. It will include other measurement technologies such as online oil sampling and generic CM using existing sensors such as those for temperature, pressure or power. This extended CM functionality will provide comprehensive protection of valuable mining equipment to ensure long service life and high availability.