Mining Publication: Field Evaluation of Mobile Roof Support Technologies
This study presents a historic overview of the role of mobile roof support (MRS) technologies in improving stability and worker safety and presents the results of recent field evaluations of the MRS load rate monitoring device and other remote deformation-monitoring techniques. Field studies were implemented at two sites in cooperation among researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Maleki Technologies, Inc., and J. H. Fletcher & Co. The objective of the field programs were to (1) study the interaction between MRS's and coal mine strata and (2) develop and test suitable monitoring systems for assessing roof and pillar stability. An MRS consists of a roof canopy, four hydraulic cylinders, a caving shield canopy, and associated electromechanical systems mounted on crawler tracks. The machines are controlled by radio from a remote location and operate on self-contained power units. Typically, MRS's have capacities of 5,340 and 7,120 kN (600 and 800 tons). In comparison to posts, an MRS is capable of maintaining the yield load after significant amounts of roof-floor deformation. Because the mining cycle is accelerated, MRS's help reduce the potential for time-dependent roof falls. MRS performance has been monitored in the laboratory under controlled static loading conditions and in the field under deep, two seam mining conditions. Laboratory studies have quantified support capacity and system stiffness as a function of machine height. Field investigations have focused on determination of optimum operating conditions and development of warning systems that indicate excessive load on the machine and/or impending roof-pillar stability problems. Analyses of field data show that roof instabilities are influenced by (1) pillar failure, (2) pillar yielding, (3) mine seismicity, (4) geologic structures, and (5) panel layout designs and mining practice. Pillar yielding and failure (unloading) and seismicity can be conveniently monitored by the load rate monitoring device, but for consistent detection of roof falls, additional deformation measurements directly within the cuts are needed.