Asia’s largest mining expo brings industry leaders to Beijing
In late October, visitors from all over China and the rest of Asia attended the region’s largest coal industry tradeshow, the China Coal & Mining Expo, hosted by the China National Coal Group. The show has been held every other year since 1985, and has grown to the region’s largest and most influential mining exhibition.
China produces and consumes more coal than any other country on Earth, with mines of all types and sizes. But unlike other large coal-producing countries like the United States and India, China produces significantly more of its coal underground than on the surface — with the majority being mined by longwall operations.
This year, over 40,000 people made their way to the New China International Exposition Center in Beijing to visit booths hosted by 362 exhibitors, from domestic and state-owned enterprises to international corporations.
Among the international exhibitors was Caterpillar Inc., with an 860-square-foot booth showcasing the company’s innovation in and dedication to the longwall mining industry. Members of the Caterpillar team from China, the United States and Germany traveled to Beijing to share their knowledge of longwall mining equipment, technology and support.
“China is one of the largest and fastest-growing longwall mining markets in the world,” said Holger Rusch, Underground Regional Sales and Support Manager for China and India. “China Coal gives us an opportunity to meet face-to-face with people who are leading that growth and show them what Caterpillar has to offer for their operations.”
The Caterpillar booth included a digital model of a longwall face in operation, allowing customers to see what all the pieces of a Cat longwall system look like in action. Digital displays allowed them to showcase a wide variety of products and technologies, from basic information about machines to real-time displays of monitoring and automation software — with experts on hand to explain what each program was monitoring or controlling and how it benefitted the mining operation.
One of the technologies on display was Vshield, which allows users to define face advance profiles and provides the operator with a realistic view of the face alignment profile. It also allows Caterpillar and dealer personnel to monitor active faces and issue recommendations to help miners protect their equipment and increase their productivity.
Automation technology is one of the most important aspects of longwall mining today, with huge impacts on basically every facet of a mine’s operation — from improving safety and production to decreasing operating costs and more.
“A good machine is always going to be important, but technology has become one of the most important parts of the longwall mining industry,” said Frank Fang, a technical sales representative who represented Caterpillar at the show. “It keeps your operators safer, it helps your machines run more smoothly — and it helps us take better care of our customers.”
“We can monitor their equipment in real time, so if there’s a problem or a way we can help improve things, we don’t have to wait until something fails or we have somebody in the mine to figure that out. We can see the problem, come up with a solution, and notify the customer so they can get back to work.”