n South African Journal of Industrial Engineering - A fuzzy approach to selecting roof supports in longwall mining

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-277X



As a decision-making problem, selecting proper machines and equipment plays a key role for mining sites and companies. Many factors affect this decision, and values belonging to these factors can be expressed numerically and/or non-numerically. In order to make the most appropriate decision, engineers must carry out an evaluation process that comprises all criteria that might affect decision-making. To achieve this, multi-criteria decision-making tools are used. As a result of technological developments, coal outputs in longwall mining have risen tremendously over the last decades, and longwall mechanisation has become unavoidable. The significance of powered roof supports in particular increases day-by-day, since the rate of roof support has to be in accordance with the rate of face advance in longwalls.

In this study, an integrated fuzzy analytic hierarchy process and fuzzy goal programming model is used to select the most suitable powered roof supports. The procedure is applied to a real-life underground coal mine that is operated using the longwall method. Seven alternative powered roof supports are compared with each other, taking a total of 24 decision criteria under four main topics into account. In conclusion, the most suitable roof supports for the mine under study are determined and recommended to the decision-makers of the system.

'n Die selekteer van die regte masjinerie en toerusting speel 'n sleutelrol vir myn werwe en mynmaatskappye. Daar is baie faktore wat dié besluit beïnvloed en numeriese of nie-numeriese waardes kan aan hierdie faktore toegeken word. Om die regte besluit te neem, moet ingenieurs al die kriteria wat die besluit mag beïnvloed oorweeg. Hiervoor word multi-kriteria besluitneming-strategieë gebruik. As gevolg van tegnologiese ontwikkelinge, het die steenkoolontginning van ondergrondse myne drasties toege-neem en is meganisering van dié myne onvermeidelik. Die belang van aangedrewe plafonstutte het veral toegeneem as gevolg van die vinnige tempo van skag verlenging.

'n Wasige analitiese hiërargieproses en wasige doelbeplannings-model word gebruik om die gepaste aangedrewe plafonstutte te kies. Die prosedure word toegepas op 'n ondergrondse steenkool-myn. Sewe aangedrewe plafonstutte word met mekaar vergelyk; die vergelyking neem 24 besluitnemingskriteria, wat onder vier hoofafdelings verdeel is, in ag. Gevolglik word die mees geskikte plafonstut gekies en aanbeveel.

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