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Shearer Automation
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HBT Shearer Automation

HBT longwall shearers operate more predictably, more consistently and with greater component life and availability when supported by the latest HBT longwall automation tools.

HBT shearer automation technology offers three levels of automation:

  • Standard machine control
  • Basic automation
  • Advanced automation


In 2020, the Moolarben underground coal mine was recognized as Australia’s “Coal Mine of the Year” by Australian Mining magazine.  This award acknowledged the mine for demonstrating highest level of productivity, efficiency, and safety. Yancoal’s Moolarben Coal Operation has grown into the highest producing, lowest cost thermal coal mining operation in Australia.

In 2017, the mine implemented a HBT longwall system featuring advanced automation technology, which enables constant high production rates. The system integrates all of the longwall’s functions, allow for operation of the shearer, roof supports and conveyor drives for the ultimate in horizon and extraction control.

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Standard Machine Control

Standard machine control allows your operator standing at the face to use a radio remote hand set to manage the shearer.  The hand control has on-screen visualization of operational values, equipment parameters and shearer operation with two radio controls. If the remote handset detects that it has been dropped, is tilted or an impact has occurred, the shearer will automatically go into safe mode.

Using haulage speed control, the shearer control system can relay the haulage speed to the cutter load.  If an increased load on the cutter motors is detected, the haulage system will slow down automatically allowing consistent and continual loading of coal.  An onboard fault diagnostic system helps the operator troubleshoot any system issues. Direct links to sensor data and flowcharts supports the fault analysis.

Haulage speed zones can be commissioned for 10 zones in each direction of travel.  The zones help manage shearer speeds to production requirements and geology.

The shearer machine position is calculated by an absolute position encoder. This allows the control system to detect the exact machine position, even if the exchange of data is interrupted.

Basic Automation

Our basic automation package offers all the features of Standard Machine Control with the addition of gate end communication, basic state table and optional remote operation control.

Gate End Communication

The control system communicates machine data and pulls data from external longwall components such as PMC-Rs, PMC-Ds and Gate End PLCs. Shearer roof support anti-collision detection provides control of the shearer haulage system. The external longwall controls manage the shearer speed limit helping it navigate the face at the best speed and production rate possible for the conditions.  The gate end controller sends general longwall system information to the operator’s radio handset display using predefined or customized messages.

Basic State Table

Several status pages show motor currents, drum heights and machine positioning.  This data is shown on the color display of the operator radio handset. Drum automation methods are available for the individual cutting drums to steer the ranging arms to cut a defined shape using a pan follow, a roof follow or an idle method. Drum heights and method can be set up to specific zones along the face. Up to 40 zones can be commissioned onboard the shearer.

Advanced Automation

Advanced automation combines all the features of the basic automation package with the added benefit of advanced state-based automation and longwall navigator.

Advanced State-Based Automation

Customizable state tables allow you to define complete cutting cycles/sequences with the automation of direction, speed, different cutting methods and ranging arm heights for up to 200 individual states and an additional 50 exceptional states.

Longwall Navigator

Using the longwall navigator, the desired floor and roof cutting profiles can be defined, controlled and monitored. Horizon control using  VShearer interface allows the operator to define the floor and roof cutting profiles within the visualization tool and then send adjustments to the shearer from a remote location such as a gate end or control room at the surface. From each roof support control unit within the longwall, the operator can define desired floor and roof corrections and they can then be sent directly to the shearer or be visualized and reviewed within the VShearer software before being applied.

The shearer controls can steer the machine to a desired face advance angle and these angles can be defined in a profile along the longwall. The shearer also calculates the conveyor profile from actual position data and sends corrections to the VShield system, where they are translated to the relay bar’s extension. This feature keeps the longwall straight for consistent production and minimal wear of the conveyor system.

The Pan Angle Measurement System (PAMS) Interface allows communication with gate end inclinometers installed on the last five conveyor pans on each gate end. With this information, the system can determine the pan profile in front of the shearer in the gate end sections.

Optional Remote Operation Control

This technology is optional on the basic and advanced automation package. Complete machine functionality is available through remote control of all shearer and roof support functions that are operated by radio control – either from the surface control room or from a safe area underground not in the line of sight of the longwall equipment. Multiple cameras can be installed on the shearer to transmit the video streams to the longwall and remote-control locations. With remote operation control, the equipment is possible to control production while maintaining equipment operators in a safe zone and avoiding exposure to dust, noise and vibration.

With three levels of automation available, you can choose the best automation package for your HBT longwall shearer – from operator assistance to full autonomy – to ensure maximum productivity, safety and efficiency of your longwall operation.


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