April Terreri learns why Long-Airdox is synonymous with superior underground mining equipment for the worldwide mining industry.
Mining companies worldwide know where to find the only company in the world manufacturing the diverse range of machinery necessary for the complete mining process: Long-Airdox in Blacksburg, Va. The company’s strategy to structure itself to be able to offer its customers equipment to handle the entire mining process has struck gold.
“From the entry of the mine to carrying the minerals to and loading from a load facility, we manufacture all the equipment an underground operation will ever need,” says Mike Petkovich, the company’s international marketing manager. “We have a one-stop type of operation. We are also the second-largest underground mining machinery manufacturer in the world, but the only company that manufactures the entire range of products needed in an underground operation.” The company has developed its product range through a series of acquisitions, the most recent being the North American Conveyor Company in Alabama and Jeffery Mining Machinery in Columbus, Ohio.
Long-Airdox’s high-profile products, continuous miners and shearers, are key in the industry for handling the two types of mining prevalent worldwide: room-and-pillar mining and longwall mining. “Our continuous miners and shearers are our big-dollar products,” explains Petkovich. “These are the products that people would associate with a company like ours.” For example, continuous miner, capable of extracting 15 to 30 tons of coal per minute, plays a major role in room-and-pillar mining. In this operation, a room of coal is mined out, leaving the pillars to support the roof. Roof bolters drill shafts into the roof to spread out the force so the roof doesn’t collapse. Roof bolters help increase the safety factor for the operators.
The company’s battery haulage, diesel haulage and continuous haulage systems then transport and extract the minerals from the mine, making the mining process a continuous operation. In the area of continuous haulage and battery haulage equipment, Long-Airdox has long been and currently is a leader in the industry.
The company’s continuous haulage systems can handle up to 30 tons of coal per minute. Of course, continuous production saves time and makes the mining more efficient, resulting in more tonnage and more profits for customers. Longwall mining is normally conducted on a 1000-foot face utilizing a machine called a shearer. The heart and muscle of any long-wall operation, the shearer runs on a track called a face conveyor, which the company also manufactures. Long-Airdox’s latest line of shearers, the Electra series, is engineered to work in low or thick seams, on steep or flat gradients, and in soft or very hard coals. With their unique modular constructions, the company’s shearers have earned the worldwide reputation as the workhorse of the underground mining industry. “Long-Airdox shearers are the most advanced and sophisticated shearers produced by any company in the world,”
Headquartered in Blacksburg, Va., Long-Airdox has strategic geographic sales and service centers throughout the country. Its overseas presence is impressive, with facilities in Scotland, England, Poland, South Africa, China and Australia. The company is currently working to open another facility in Peru to serve the South American market. “Some of the markets have different concerns and different requirements,” ex-plains Petkovich. By having local offices in key areas around the world, complete with manufacturing, sales, service and engineering capabilities, our people can be in tune with the unique conditions that affect our customers in each market. Essentially our goal was to provide a locally based business staffed with respected people in the industry. This way, the customer could have the convenience of local service as well as the benefit of the cutting edge technology and economic backing from the international Long-Airdox.
Marketing is done through direct sales. Because of the nature of the industry, the company’s market is very select. “We know who our customers are and we can see each one individually,” explains Petkovich.
Experienced and Strong
The company is proud of its unique position in the industry as a one-stop supplier of all underground mining equipment needs. Giving it an enviably strong backbone is its affiliation with The Marmon Group, a Chicago-based international holding company of more than 100 autonomous manufacturing and service companies with annual sales of $6.8 billion. “The Marmon Group gives us stability and financial support,” says Petkovich. “It makes our customers comfortable in knowing our company will be around for a long time.”
With the experience of 100 years in the mining industry, Long-Airdox has the experience that past trials and tribulations teach. “We’ve done just about every type of application you can think of in terms of engineering,” says Petkovich. “We’ve run into problems and the thing we can offer our customers is that we’ve solved those problems for our customers and we can help future customers with similar applications problems.” Every mining application has its own set of unique challenges varying from poor roofs, poor floors, water in the mines, and problems with gas and dust. With the richness of its experience, Long-Airdox can find the best solution for each of its customers.
All manufacturing in the U.S. is done in Virginia with manufacturing in Pulaski, and the main rebuild center is in Pearisburg.