An endowed chair for Smart Mining Machinery will be joining the TU Bergaka-demie Freiberg in the summer semester of 2016. The chair will be working in the Faculty for Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering and will be co-financed by the professional associations for construction/building materials machinery and for mining in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) in partnership with the Research Institute for Construction/Building Materials Machinery over a period of five years. Representatives from the TU Bergakademie and the VDMA in Frankfurt am Main signed a cooperation agreement in December 2015.
The endowed chair’s aim is to work together with trade and industry to develop intelligent machinery for recovering raw materials. Prof. Holger Lieberwirth, Director of the Institute for Processing Machinery at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, describes the role of the endowed chair as follows:
“It is precisely when facing difficult challenges – i.e. mining at depths of over 5,000 m – that ideas can be generated which then result in pioneering new technologies in other fields and closely related areas, such as in construction machines and building materials machinery.” This is the case in fully automated operations, for example, which are doing away with the need for personnel to be present in complex working conditions. Machines will require a different kind of functionality and intelligence than they currently have in order for this to work. Machines will need to be able to communicate not only with one another but also with higher-level control systems, and make decisions quickly and locally without centralised input. With automated vehicles, a map of the road network is stored in the onboard computer and an operator is still needed to at least specify a destination. Intelligent machines working with raw materials, by contrast, will be able to set their own destinations and find their own way there by detecting lodes and then mining them themselves. (VDMA/Si.)