Plow Systems (mining) Information

Plow systems extract segments of coal across the face of a coal seam during longwall mining procedures. They are used in lieu of a shearer on coal seam thickness less than 1.8 meters in height, and excavate coal in low and medium height coal seams. The plow consists of a static cutting head equipped with cutting picks or blades and is pulled by a heavy chain at speeds up to 300 feet per minute across an armored face conveyor (AFC).


There are two basic types of coal plows:

A sliding plow includes a base plate that runs under the 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.


Modern automated plow systems are used to increase production in low to medium seam thickness. Automated controls, overload protection, alignment correction, and higher capacities have allowed plow systems to outperform shearers when a static cutting head can reach the full seam thickness.

 Video credit: Cat® Automated Plow Systems via YouTube


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