MacLean’s new dedicated BEV elevated work platform

At the IMARC show in Sydney in early November 2022, IM met with MacLean Engineering’s Dan Stern, Senior Product Manager and Peter Black, Technical Sales Manager, to talk about one of its latest battery electric innovations – the ML5 BEV Multi Lift  – which has been developed specifically for the Australian market initially and will be the next addition to the company’s extensive EV Series.

This is an all electric, certified elevated work platform (EWP) for installation of services in tunnel headings up to 6.5 m high and is fully equipped for the multi-tasking required in today’s underground trackless environment. MacLean says it represents a new take on the industry accepted integrated tool carrier (ITC) with additional features better suited to underground mining. These EWPs are extensively used for explosives charging plus building vent walls and fans.

MacLean Engineering’s Dan Stern (left) and Peter Black (right) at IMARC 2022

It is mounted on a self propelled, 4 wheel drive carrier with a 4.5 m deck height and 6.5 m working height with payload up to 4.5 t. It offers a remote drive system (RDS) from the basket and is available with a ROPS/FOPS enclosed cab with heat and A/C.

Stern told IM: “We have been working closely with Australian mine operators over the past few years to meet a really evident requirement for a certified man lift device for underground mining. Today, the equipment being used is a surface construction wheel loader from say John Deere, Caterpillar or Volvo which is sent to a third party company to be modified as an Integrated Tool Carrier for underground including a man lift device along with the required certification, which involves a lot of cost and complexity. Mining owner operators and contractors came to us asking if we could offer a factory-built machine, certified for this task from the outset.”

The ML5 Multi Lift also has a two person cab unlike the wheel loaders with one person cabs. Currently the second worker has to follow the wheel loader in a light vehicle. With the MacLean machine, if they are using two workers, they can travel together to the working site in the same vehicle.

Black added: “We developed this as a dedicated EWP for the mining industry. But it will also fit a standard set of Volvo fork and jib attachments so it can meet underground utility and materials handling needs as well. This allows you to get a high level of utilisation out of the equipment. Another unique feature we have put into the design of this machine includes boom swing, which instead of being fixed, can be slewed from side to side by the operator. This means the whole face can be covered for service or charging work from one point in the centre of the drive without having to reposition the machine. In addition, the basket itself will slew, which allows you to maintain parallel face coverage as well as parallel coverage to the side of the drive when moving up and down.”

Another feature cited by Black is that the controls for moving the machine up and down the drive are in the basket so you don’t need a second operator in the cab, saving on man hours required to do the job. Stern adds: “It is also a major safety improvement. One of the big challenges on using the modified wheel loaders is communication between the person in the loader cab and the person in the basket. Miscommunications have occurred where the operator has mistakenly moved the basket and pinched the person in the basket up against the back or ventilation fan they have been working on. With our machine all the controls are also in the basket so the operator can even tram the machine forwards and backwards.”

Plus of course the machine is battery powered. Black states: “These machines are often going to install ventilation infrastructure in areas that don’t have adequate ventilation yet. If you can remove the diesel engine from that environment, all the better as you are reducing emissions and particulates.”

It uses best in class battery technology in terms of energy density and cycle life plus has smart battery management tech with active liquid cooling. The battery is a high performance Li-ion NMC for high density and long life cycle – in excess of 10,000 cycles. The 134 kWh capacity provides a large range of applications, and there are several charging options to keep the equipment running. It is compatible with existing mine electrical grids via on-board chargers and does not require additional charging infrastructure. It has down ramp regenerative braking capability of over 30% on well-maintained ramps.

MacLean told IM in November that the first machine was in early construction at the home factory in Collingwood, Ontario and was set to be shipped to Australia in Q2 2023 following testing, with commissioning with the launch customer in NSW likely by end-2023.

For now the units will continue to be assembled in Canada for the Australian market, but if the demand levels ramp up as expected, fabrication could move to MacLean’s Australian hub in Wangara, WA. And the demand is set to be significant – the first customer as an example operates over 40 modified Volvo wheel loaders. Stern concluded: “Every mine operator we show this to instantly gets it and wants it, which is very rewarding for us.”