Joy Mining Systems
Joy equipment faces many challenges. The first is machine integration and control. The business end of the machine has a rapidly-spinning cylinder with 6-inch diamond-studded cutting teeth. It chews through rock at rates measured in tens of tons per minute. The system grinds through the rock in front, creating a rectangular mine tunnel. Hydraulic lifters support the ceiling as the machine moves forward. Automated drills and screws drive 3-ft long screws into the ceiling to stabilize it. The rock and coal fall into a set of gathering "fingers" below the cutting cylinder. These fingers scoop up the rock and coal and deposit it onto a conveyor belt. The conveyor passes under the machine and out the back. A train of conveyor belt cars, up to a mile long, follows the cutter into the mine. The rock shoots along this train at over 400 feet per minute until it empties into rail cars at the end. Current systems place an operator cage next to the cutter. Choking dust (potentially explosive), the risk of collapse and the proximity of metal and rock mayhem make the operator cage a hazardous location.