Under the slogan “Thanks to German Coal for 153 Years of Solidarity”, Eickhoff Bergbautechnik GmbH, Bochum/Germany, delivered an SL 750 shearer loader to RAG Aktiengesellschaft on 13th July 2017 (Figure 1).
The Bochum-based manufacturer’s high-power machines have been used in German mines since the beginning of last century, when underground coal mining became mechanised. From that point on, they have assisted miners in extracting domestic “black gold” whilst helping mining sites to continuously improve safety and productivity.
The close, trusting collaboration – which has lasted for decades – between the German coal mining group and the family-owned machinery manufacturer in the heart of the Ruhr region has fostered the development of this reliable, sophisticated machinery. Shearer loaders are now the general, proven standard for all high-output faces in major coal regions around the world. In particular, Eickhoff shearer loaders enjoy an outstanding global reputation when it comes to safety and reliability.
The Eickhoff SL 750 yellow giant is as heavy as 50 mid-range cars (96 t), can extract a seam the same height as a two-storey building (5 m) and has a total installed power equivalent to seven of the most powerful Unimogs ever built (1,534 kW) (Figure 2). This means it can cut and load 1,500 lorry-loads (40,000 t) of coal every day.
The modern, high-tech equipment of this type of extraction machine guarantees safety while mining, the lowest possible impact on staff and increased production, while avoiding any unwanted cutting of the surrounding rock. The technology includes radar sensors to avoid collisions and to determine the section actually cut, vibration sensors and complex analysis software for status diagnostics and need-based maintenance work, vibration monitoring for detecting the interface between coal and the surrounding rock, special cameras for control and monitoring from a safe distance and automatic modes that can be freely selected by the operator. In automatic mode, the shearer loader moves and cuts autonomously, allowing the operator to stay in the fresh air at all times.
Although the mining machine delivered on 13th July looks new, it is largely made up of reconditioned and refurbished components. For this, the Eickhoff Service team broke the machine down into its individual units, checked them and repaired them in line with Eickhoff’s quality standards. To guarantee that underground mining could start smoothly, Eickhoff and RAG experts assembled and tested the machine together in Eickhoff’s assembly facilities. Then the machine was dismantled and transported underground. The last shearer loader used in Germany will help the miners at operating panel 124 on the Zollverein seam of the Prosper-Haniel mine in Bottrop until the mine closes for good in 2018 as the result of a political decision. The ceremonial handover of this shearer loader marked the start of the last chapter in the German coal mining industry (Figure 3).
Eickhoff has been closely associated with coal mining since its foundation. It initially only supplied machines in Germany, but has done so internationally too since the early 20th century. After growing on the back of German coal, Eickhoff has developed into a broad-based, internationally successful group over the last few decades, with 2,000 specialists worldwide. Its range of products and related local customer service not only cover mining machinery, but now also include robust industrial gear units, high-tech gearboxes for wind turbines, special locomotives and underground rail transport solutions. (Eickhoff/Si.)