Keeping the pressure up on mine safety


There are few industries as potentially dangerous as underground mining where safety systems must be built and maintained to the highest standards. Market pressures demand that the productivity and efficiency of mines continue to increase, which puts increasing pressures on technology to improve safety equipment. Modern longwall mining techniques require a roof support system that maintains a safe working area while moving with the shearer and allowing a controlled collapse of the roof.

A coal mine presents a number of challenges for the designers of mining equipment, and a long list of standards that must be met. The potential for explosive gases means that all mines have an extensive network of gas monitors to warn of any potential risk to life. As a further precaution, any equipment designed to operate in the mine must be certified to work in potentially explosive atmospheres. In addition, the reliability of any safety related equipment must be proven beyond doubt.

Within the mining industry, safety is the highest priority, meaning the selection of equipment for use within a mining environment has to a rigorous process, with sustained testing being completed before operational approval is given. Most countries operate a scheme whereby all safety critical equipment undergoes design scrutiny as well as on-site testing before it can be specified for operation within the industry.

One such example is the UK Coal Acceptance scheme. The testing period can last for a whole year, during which the equipment undergoes continuous monitoring to ensure that the performance levels remain within necessary tolerances. The certification process is extremely vigorous and only the best equipment is awarded a UK Coal Acceptance Certificate at the end.

The roof support system consists of a series of individual shield units which use hydraulic rams to hold the overhead shield plates in place. All of the units are connected together and powered by a high pressure hydraulic pump which provides the power to hold thousands of tonnes of rock in place while the coal face is mined.

RMI Pressure Systems is a global leader in high pressure pumping systems and has spent over 100 years delivering innovative and practical solutions to customers around the world. With particular expertise within the mining industry, both above and below ground, many of RMI’s most popular products include certifications and approvals from some of the world’s leading mining organisations.

The Trimax S range of pumps from RMI have been used across the world in many of the largest mining operations and are recognised as one of the most reliable and efficient pumping systems available. Constructed from the highest quality materials, and manufactured to exacting tolerances, the S range is capable of producing 517 l/min at pressures up to 600 Bar.

RMI also has a policy of continuous development of energy efficient products, which has led to the introduction of the ODIN (On Demand Intelligence) control system. This system uses a range of data supplied from equipment used in the process of continuous longwall mining and uses it to calculate the changes in demand for hydraulic fluid before they occur. In this way ODIN can modulate the pump speed and change the flow and pressure characteristics to meet demand in the most responsive way possible.Mike Sherman, RMI Marketing Manager, comments “As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high pressure, high flow pumping systems, RMI has been helping to maintain mine safety for many years. With the majority of applications in remote areas, with limited access and where unplanned downtime is very expensive, reliability is an essential quality required of our equipment. We have an enviable reputation for designing efficient and reliable equipment, which has been used across the world in the longwall mining industry for many years.”

For more than a century, RMI has been producing premium-quality high-pressure pumps for global mining and industrial applications. An early innovator in the design and manufacture of high-pressure systems for Longwall mining, today RMI employs the expert resources at its UK engineering research centre to great effect, introducing new solutions designed to reduce process complexity and optimise customers’ productivity.

The collaborative relationships RMI forms with clients creates a climate of proactive response, inspiring progress and resulting in consistently high service levels. At RMI, we aim to deliver enhanced value and reliability to customers, focusing our efforts on helping them to become more productive by cutting operational costs and boosting output. We can only achieve these advancements by listening to – and learning from – the issues that are important to our clients. It is this unwavering commitment to the learning process that helps RMI drive innovation with, and for, the customer. It elevates our ability to better serve our customers – and, ultimately, the world in which we live.