RPMGlobal expands UGCS software reach to longwall coal sector

RPMGlobal says it has yet again set a new benchmark in the mine planning software industry by introducing longwall support to its Underground Coal Solutions (UGCS) software product.

UGCS, RPMGlobals scheduling package purpose-built for underground coal operations, already supported other common mining methods, such as room and pillar. This latest release of UGCS introduces an enterprise, parametric mine scheduling solution specifically for longwall operations globally, it said.

Parametric scheduling in mining was pioneered by RPMGlobal to automate the repetitive and time-consuming tasks that can often take a mine planner days, weeks or even months to perform, RPMGlobal says.

Parametric scheduling allows a planner to rapidly generate multiple scenarios extremely quickly so they can investigate and refine the most attractive options, according to the company.

The in-built intelligence in the UGCS solution does the heavy lifting, allowing engineers to focus on applying their skills to run different scenarios, deepen analysis and deliver more value, the company said. It provides the engineer with tools that help them to identify options that deliver value that would have otherwise been overlooked.

RPMGlobal Chief Executive Officer, Richard Mathews, expects UGCS to transform the scheduling of longwall operations.

In other commodities and mining methods where XPAC Solutions are available, we have seen a step change in the planners mindset and capabilities, he said. Mine planners no longer need to be scripting experts and, with the workflow streamlining the process and Product Optimiser identifying optimum product paths, planners can focus on what they are trained to do.

Where they once struggled against the clock to get a single schedule out on time, they now have the ability to assess several options and find the best one in a much quicker timeframe.

UGCS builds on XPAC Solutions 40-year history and incorporates the introduction of a new interactive, mixed method scheduling approach that combines the flexibility of manual scheduling with the benefit of automated scheduling. The user can select whether to schedule manually or automatically in any combination and from any point of the schedule, RPMGlobal says.

This dynamic approach to scheduling allows users to provide high-level guidance in terms of where each major item of equipment should work, according to the company.

The automated features then work within this guidance, establishing the detailed tasks the equipment will perform, given ground conditions, the cutting height, the quantity of stone in the cutting profile and the impact of nearby equipment.

This approach allows users to focus on the bigger scheduling issues at play with the comfort of knowing the detail is not being overlooked, RPMGlobal says. And because the schedule considers each individual continuous miner and longwall, UGCS provides an unparalleled level of confidence in the practicality of the mining sequences produced, it added.

UGCS also allows far greater flexibility when changing and updating models. It generates working section composites from imported geological data that accounts for the capacity of the different equipment used at the mine, while accurately reflecting loss of coal and dilution from the roof, floor and partings.

Working sections are used to create a detailed 3D mathematical model of the project that can be updated when changes occur, while ensuring the adoption of practical assumptions, such as mining rate.

RPMGlobals industry leading Product Optimiser functionality is also available within UGCS. Product Optimiser determines the optimal way to blend, wash and stockpile coal products to maximise value from the mined coal. In addition to individual mining operations, it can also be applied to complexes with multiple mines which use shared processing facilities.

This latest release also allows a clear upgrade path for existing XPAC users in the longwall space, RPMGlobal says, bringing them in line with the advanced software developments using the latest technologies already incorporated across other commodities and mining methods.

Mathews concluded: The advanced scheduling methodology, Product Optimiser and 3D capability contained within UGCS makes it a far superior solution compared to what is currently available on the market. No other tool offers the speed and accuracy with the same sophistication and flexibility as UGCS.