OLKO supplies winding machines with highest safety standard for a mine in England
While the last two coal mines in Germany ceased operation at the end of 2018, a new mine is being built in England after decades. Sirius Minerals is currently building a new mine, the "Woodsmith Mine", which will produce high-quality polyhalite (fertiliser) in North Yorkshire from 2021. The polyhalite deposits will be mined via two mine shafts and transported from the mine to Teesside port via a 37-kilometer underground tunnel using a conveyor belt system. After granulation, most of the polyhalite will be exported. The requirements for the harmony between nature and the technology required to mine the mineral deposits are unique in the world.
High-performance technology is needed to extract the material. And this is where OLKO-Maschinentechnik GmbH, a company in the THYSSEN SCHACHTBAU Group, comes in. OLKO was commissioned by Sirius Minerals to supply two large winding machines, so-called double drum Blair machines. The machines will initially be used for sinking the two shafts, which are more than 1,500 metres deep. In the later final conveying operation, one winding machine will be used for conveying the polyhalite and one for transporting people and material. The order value for OLKO is well over 20 million euros.
The production of the components, of which the largest and heaviest have an individual weight of more than 60 tons, is almost completed. The diameter of the drums including brake discs is 6.80 metres. The double drum has a weight of over 300 tonnes, which is not an everyday occurrence even for a company specialising in heavy machinery. There are not many winding machines of this size in the world.
The components are currently being prepared for shipment by sea and land. Major components have been manufactured by qualified subcontractors in Germany and the EU. As far as possible, subcontractors from the domestic area have priority at OLKO when awarding contracts. Also with the completion of this order it was possible to fall back on local companies for some assemblies.
Decisive for the award to OLKO was a convincing safety concept of the hoisting machines, which meets the highest requirements worldwide. The electrical equipment was ordered from Siemens AG, a long-term partner of OLKO. With an output of 9.3 megawatts (equivalent to approx. 12,500 hp), the medium-voltage synchronous motors included in the scope of supply are among the largest in the world. The multi-channel COBRA01 brake system is also used, comparable to an ABS system in a car. This provides gentle, controlled and safe braking of the hoisting machine at all times. The digital speed controller developed by Siemens with SIL 3 (Safety Integral Level 3, corresponds to IEC 61508) is being used for the first time, making it the world's first hoisting machine with this safety rating.
The handling of such large-scale projects poses major challenges for all areas of the company. While design, production and QA have meanwhile completed their part, the logistics department is now in the starting blocks and the equipment is about to be shipped to England. In the coming weeks and months, the assembly and commissioning personnel will then be required to professionally commission and hand over to the customer the hoisting machines, which are among the largest and most powerful in the world.