HEAVY ENGINEERING & WEAR PARTS
ME Elecmetal continues to work with customers to analyse mill operating conditions and recommend new value-adding opportunities within the process plant
mill liner breakage and cracked bolts caused by critical ball impacts , with the SAG mill cylinder liners showing no sign of breakage .
“ This was made possible by providing our customer with simulations , data analysis and operational recommendations throughout the campaign ,” the company said .
By the end of the campaign in March 2020 , the removed Light Lifter liners still had an average
remnant thickness of 25 mm and , in the most critical zone , not a single crack or break was observed .
ME Elecmetal concluded : “ As a result of these findings , ME Elecmetal is working on an ME FIT Grinding program to develop new designs , grates and generally meet the revised targets that the client is considering . There is no doubt whatsoever that Light Lifter marks the successful beginning of a suite of technological and integral solutions for our client .”
‘ Infinite ’ customisation options
“ Our business exists in both truck trays and buckets because we are able to offer a very high level of customisation to customers ,” David Singleton , CEO of Austin Engineering , a manufacturer of highly engineered truck trays and buckets , states .
Yet , within the realms of this customisation , there is room for both automation and advanced manufacturing practices that can lead to increased output , improved product quality and faster turnaround of orders .
This is all part of the “ Austin 2.0 journey ” the company is currently going through , according to Singleton .
Initially – in phase one – this journey was designed to create a leaner and more consolidated company structure with a stronger focus on new product delivery . Phase two – the phase the company is currently in – has seen
Austin develop its major manufacturing sites , commencing in Batam , Indonesia , and then to Perth , Western Australia , where the automation and advanced manufacturing elements come in .
Phase three is looking at putting technology and innovation at the forefront of a significantly expanded Austin product range , elements of which are already in place at the Perthbased company .
Considering the company ’ s customisation prowess and past definitions of ‘ advanced manufacturing ’, Singleton was keen to outline what the term meant in a 2022 context .
“ I often say to people , we produce an almost infinite degree of customisation in our truck bodies ,” he said . “ Advanced manufacturing must help , not hinder that .
“ Advanced manufacturing in the 1960s , 1970s and 1980s in car plants was all about producing common equipment one-after-another with limited levels of customisation . What is happening in robotics and advanced manufacturing these days is much more oriented towards the sort of manufacturing we do . These robotic systems are much more flexible than they were in the early car plants ; they can be programmed and re-programmed with ease to carry out many different tasks , instead of just one that is repeated .”
And ‘ advanced manufacturing ’ isn ’ t simply about replacing people with robots . Being able to bring in just-in-time manufacturing and line side storage of components eases the assembly process for many of Austin ’ s products , allowing it to speed up the turnaround time .
This is particularly important given the influx of orders Austin has seen of late .
In the three months to end-February 2022 , for instance , it registered A $ 82 million ($ 61 million ) of new orders across its business as demand for its specialist truck trays and buckets accelerated . This represented a 100 % increase in its order book level compared with the same period a year earlier .
In addition , Austin said it had already received a very encouraging level of orders for its 2023
financial year . In a competitive market for specialist truck trays and buckets , Austin ’ s products continue to stand out due to the amount of R & D investment it continues to put into solutions and the ongoing support it provides customers , according to Singleton .
The company has around an 18 % market share in the global truck tray market , with a significant presence in the specialised bucket market .
“ We ’ re the biggest producer of truck trays in the world ,” he said . “ That size has allowed us to invest in R & D , and that continual investment allows us to increment our product continuously – which we have been doing this year – as well as occasionally make a step-change to our product – as we did when the original ULTIMA product came to market .”
Some of the more recent R & D work to come out of its Australia and US hubs includes an update to its ULTIMA truck tray – termed ULTIMA 2.0 – a new and improved JEC High Performance Bucket range that leverages some of the design aspects of Austin ’ s original two-piece bucket , and “ enhanced logistics body designs ”.
The ULTIMA 2.0 development came from a fact-finding mission the company embarked on with its coal mining customers on the eastern side of Australia .
“ The new ULTIMA 2.0 design removes the nose-to-tail interface issue that has caused haul truck operator accidents in the past at some mining operations , including at coal mines ,” Singleton said . “ Because it is a safety issue that needs addressing across industry , it became the mainstream design for not only our ULTIMA coal body , but the entire range . The design ensures you don ’ t get that interference if one truck happens to go into the back of another .”
The other evolution of the ULTIMA was related to reducing the weight of the truck body . This is another common request from mining
Austin Engineering ’ s continual investment in R & D has allowed it to continuously improve its offering , with the ULTIMA truck tray one solution set for an upgrade
JUNE 2022 | International Mining