Winder technology: Improved extraction

The fossil-energy sector is striking a new path for cleaner, more efficient and productive extraction. The sector’s goal is to modernize and transform itself into a high-tech industry. Premogovnik Velenje in Slovenia is taking on the challenge.

The coal industry is making efforts to become cleaner, more efficient and successful. And naturally, Premogovnik Velenje (Velenje coal mine) doesn’t want to be left behind. For over 140 years, the technologically advanced Slovenian company has been engaged in underground lignite mining. Today coal mining is a supporting pillar of Slovenia’s energy supply system, and an important contributor to the raw material security of the country.


Premogovnik Velenje has been continually optimizing the coal production process through development projects in areas such as clean technologies for coal production, electric power, roadways, transport and logistics. Siemens has supported Premogovnik Velenje with many projects over the years, such as the electrical modernization of its mine winder hoist. 

No interruptions

The scope of the modernization project included the mine winder DC drive, the low-voltage distribution, the data recorder, two control desks, the brake control, the automation and pulse generators, and the human-machine interface (HMI). “The biggest challenge, however, was to carry out the work with minimum production disruption,” recalls Roland Gebhard, product manager for Mine Winder. The Siemens team pulled it off and carried out the project in a record time of just three weeks.


The key component of the modernization project was the implementation of the Simatic S7-based Winder Technology Control Unit (WTC). The WTC hardware consists of a fail-safe, dual-channel system to assure maximum safety and reliability by using approved features for critical functions and supervision tasks, combined with the flexibility and well-proven reliability of a redundant Simatic PLC. The basic function of the WTC is to control and monitor the movement of the cage in the shaft. The WTC consists of an ultramodern data registration and visualization system, together with a mathematical model to calculate the operational characteristics of the hoist cycle. With the WTC, smoother cage movements can be ensured. The result is a more comfortable, safer and time-optimized hoisting cycle. Additionally, rope oscillations can be avoided, thereby contributing to a reduction in mechanical stress and preventing damage to the rope and other machine components. These WTC features guarantee longevity, operational efficiency and safety of the mine hoist.

A boost in productivity

The WTC also makes a contribution to increased hoist utilization and productivity. It provides data about the operation of the mine hoist system, such as the number of conveyance cage movements or the transported weight during any given time period. A correction model is implemented in the WTC that facilitates smooth cage motion. If the correction factor exceeds a defined threshold value, a message is displayed on the control system requesting maintenance work to be carried out at the hoist system. All operational data can be extracted from the WTC in the CSV format, which allows the information to be used by other applications to analyze operational conditions. 

TheWTC contributes to increased hoist utilization and productivity.

“For ten years now, the revised hoist system has been performing its services with a high degree of reliability and dependability – both of which were crucial for Premogovnik Velenje,” Gebhard reports. With Siemens’ help, Premogovnik Velenje has made a further step to making coal into a high-tech industry. 


Picture credits: Siemens AG


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