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Custom sealing solution for Longwall mining

Bucyrus Miner

ERIKS has recently demonstrated its ability to provide bespoke sealing solutions for equipment used in the most extreme environmental conditions, with the development of a new carbon- faced Rotary Joint that transmits minewater under high pressure into the heads of a range of seamless continuous miners manufactured by US company, Bucyrus. Following extensive testing, the Rotary Joint, designed and produced by Pioneer Weston, a division of ERIKS Sealing Technology, is now standard fitment on the Bucyrus continuous miners; the first machine fitted with the seal being used in Pittsburgh USA for coal extraction.

Bucyrus is the global market leader in Longwall mining systems, due its ability to offer optimally harmonised system components from a single source. The resulting systems guarantee the highest reliability and safety while minimising production costs. In addition, although operating in one of the world's most demanding production environments, up to one mile underground, the Longwall systems ensure the maximum productivity possible, producing up to 5,000 tons of coal per hour.

A key component in Bucyrus' Longwall systems is the company's range of continuous miners; it is these machines which drill into the coal face extracting material at a phenomenally high rate for transportation to the surface via fast Longwall conveyors.

Until quite recently the continuous miners operated without any external equipment to mitigate the effects of dust, which is generated in the immediate surrounding atmosphere. However, recently new regulations have been introduced in the USA that require dust levels to be significantly reduced, using water jets directed at the heads of the shearer while they are in operation.

The problem with this system is that water can enter the drill head causing corrosion, leading to premature failure and lost production, which is extremely costly.

Faced with this problem, Bucyrus turned to Pioneer Weston to engineer a solution.

With over 50 years design and manufacturing experience of providing customised sealing solutions as well as a standard range of mechanical seals, both the division's custom-designed and standard, metal-faced seals are used in applications as diverse as nuclear powered submarines, paper mills, steel mills, power stations, earth movers, and bakeries.

The development of the custom sealing solution for Bucyrus began with a visit to the USA from an engineer from Pioneer Weston, to view the application, and discuss a possible specification for the seal. Following this visit, a prototype seal was designed and manufactured and shipped to Bucyrus for evaluation at a mine in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

The Rotary Joint, a 23" overall diameter unit with specialist carbon faces is enclosed in a large housing, which is electroless Nickel coated against corrosion. The Joint contains water in the drill head, while O-rings provide static sealing for the seal enclosure.

The prototype seal performed well in tests. Following a further visit from a Pioneer Weston sealing specialist to the Pittsburgh site, a final specification for the seal was agreed upon, which required only minor adjustments from the original configuration. In addition, Pioneer Weston advised on fitting of the seal to ensure maximum performance.

Following extensive testing and development work undertaken by Pioneer Weston, the Rotary Joint has now been accepted by Bucyrus as standard fitment on its continuous miners; to date, ten of the seals units have been supplied.

'This prestigious and demanding project with the leading global manufacturer and supplier of Longwall mining systems, shows what ERIKS is all about,' said Chris Dixon, Divisional Sales Director for ERIKS Sealing Technology.

'It shows that we can deliver sealing solutions where our competitors can't, and also demonstrates our ability to work closely with customers to achieve solutions that ultimately improve their processes and operations.'

ERIKS Sealing Technology

ERIKS Sealing Technology is the only national industrial services company that can offer a complete sealing technology supply solution on quality branded sealing products from the UK's largest stock holding. Selecting the ideal sealing system through the use of our un-biased technical advice and using advanced logistics ensures that customers' parameters and service requirements are fully satisfied.

ERIKS is the partner of choice for sealing technology, because we work closely with our customers and logistics centres to provide a level of service tailored to each customer's demands. As a result of our unique stock holding facilities, ERIKS can offer a superior service to sole operators or multinational companies.

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