Plow systems in mining operations extract segments of coal across the face of a coal seam during longwall mining procedures. Plows are used in lieu of a shearer, and excavate coal in low and medium height coal seams. The plow is pulled by a heavy chain at speeds up to 300 feet per minute, while its static cutting head outperforms shearers in full seam thicknesses. Automated plow systems can increase production in certain seams through overload protection and alignment correction.
There are two basic types of coal plows:
- A sliding plow includes a base plate that runs under the armored face conveyor (AFC). The chain conveyor attaches to the plow behind the AFC allowing for easier rigging further away from the coal face.
- The Gleithobal plow is pulled by the chain conveyor on the coal face side of the AFC. This maximizes cutting power for mining through harder materials.
Video credit: Cat® Automated Plow Systems via YouTube