NEPEAN Longwall has recently been involved in a project that was conducted jointly with Glencore Coal Assets Australia to monitor longwall chain strain under operating conditions. The research project commissioned the manufacture of AFC chain links which are fitted with strain gauges and a device for recording the data. The conveyor is run in normal production with the 50mm chain links fitted. Following the production shift the data is then recovered. Time stamping of the data allows correlation of multiple units.
The purpose of the devices is to provide empirical data for the loading on the chain links under normal operating conditions and at all points in the conveyor. While modelling may predict the type of load that longwall chain will experience, the question remains in relation to peak loads when coal and rock are impacting a fully loaded conveyor. The data from the devices will resolve any uncertainties about actual loading and may inform future decisions about longwall chain specification for a given conveyor system.