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Closed Loop Control for a Continuous Mining Machine
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    As part of a project to automate coal extraction, computer control of a continuous mining machine test bed has been developed and tested by the Bureau of Mines. A computer system and control software were developed for accurate positioning of the conveyor elevation and swing, stabilizer jack, gathering head, and shear elevation. Tramming actions are also controlled by the computer. The computer system was designed to access data from sensors installed on a continuous miner and to interface with the existing control circuits of the miner. Testing in free space was used to characterize the operation of the machine. From this information, control algorithms were written and stored in the computer. The ability to control each function of the continuous miner with a high degree of accuracy and stability was successfully demonstrated in a series of tests in free space and in mining a block of simulated coal. In the mining of simulated coal, the cutting drum was instructed to position the shearer at the top of the block and shear down to the bottom under closed loop control. The cutting drum came within 0.27 in of the top and within 0.49 in of the bottom of the block for this shearing test.

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