Coal Age

MAY 2019

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20 May 2019 power distribution Next-generation Solution Distributes Power Underground Modular systems save time and money while advancing mine sections An underground power distribu- tion center is essential for keeping a mine's operations up and running. Supplying power underground and minimizing downtime outages in support of advancing mine sections is a unique challenge. In a typical underground mine, electrical power from the utility first connects to a surface substation. At this substation, transmission voltag- es coming to the mine are normal- ly routed through a gang-operated switch and a set of fuses. These allow the substation to be disconnected from the utility and also provides electrical protection for the sub- station. From there, power is trans- formed to operating voltages and routed through additional switching, fusing and vacuum circuit break- ers. Power is then fed out via cables into the underground sections of the mine. The substation's surface unit normally provides ground monitor- ing and ground-fault protection. In an underground mine, power from the surface substation is rout- ed to individual sections, where it is stepped down to a power center for distribution to the operating equip- ment. This equipment can include longwall controls, continuous min- ers, roof bolters, electric haulage ve- hicles, conveyors, pumps, battery chargers and ventilation fans. Most underground power centers serve as smaller versions of the surface substation, providing switches, trans- formers, fuses, vacuum circuit break- ers, ground monitoring, fault protec- tion and low-voltage output circuits protected by molded-case breakers. As the working sections of the mine advance, these power centers must be shut down, disconnected from the pri- mary electrical feed, and then moved to the next position. New cabling must extend to the power center, and often a separate vacuum circuit breaker unit — or even an additional power center — must be placed in line for protection and to re-establish ground- ing. Production is halted during this process, costing the mine time. This was the challenge Line Power decided to tackle, producing a solu- tion that streamlines the relocation of distribution nodes in an underground mining or tunneling operation. Developing the Technology A division of Electro-Mechanical Corp. and headquartered in Bristol, Virginia, Line Power is well known to its cus- tomers for partnering with them to engineer specific solutions that meet their power distribution needs. EMC is one of America's largest privately held, family-owned manufacturers of elec- trical apparatus. The company's Line Power division offers electrical power distribution components and systems for mining, tunneling, data centers and other mission-critical applications. "The Modular Power System is the result of downtime cost and produc- tion concerns of our customers," said Troy Mickelsen, Line Power's Western region business development manag- er. "We heard from multiple custom- ers, took their challenges into consid- eration, conceived an idea that we felt would work in these operations, and developed a sound solution." Line Power's patent-pending Modular Power System incorporates all the components necessary for an underground power center. This sys- tem reduces the amount of down- time required to transition a power center to a new location, and reduces the need of incorporating additional power centers to the operation. The Modular Power System con- sists of two sections that are joined to- gether as a single unit, but can be easily separated to deploy a chain scenario. Being able to separate the two halves of the Modular Power System creates advantages as far as advancing the section as well as fitting the unit inside a skip cage.

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