Tag Archives: Austin Engineering

Austin wins three-year truck body/bucket support contract from KGHM Sierra Gorda mine

Austin Engineering says it has strengthened its partnership with KGHM’s Sierra Gorda Mining (SGM) by securing a three-year truck body and bucket support contract with the operation in Chile.

Austin said: “Winning the competitive contract exemplifies the high level of confidence SGM has in Austin as their long-term partner of choice to support such critical mining assets.

“Our ongoing transformation from Austin 1.0 to 2.0 and the efficiencies being delivered as a result, was key to improving our South American team, to not only compete, but win such a long-term contract.”

Austin Engineering recently concluded a strategic review of its business that identified opportunities to cut “significant costs from the business while increasing output through adopting more advanced manufacturing techniques”, Austin CEO and Managing Director, David Singleton, said.

The Sierra Gorda copper-molybdenum mine is in the Atacama Desert, in the Antofagasta region, of Chile. It is located at an altitude of around 1,700 m and has a minimum annual average daily ore processing figure of 130,000 t.

Austin kicks off plan to automate engineering facilities in Perth and Batam

Austin Engineering Ltd says it has commenced a A$6.5 million ($4.7 million) capital investment to transform and automate its design and manufacturing facilities at its major Asia Pacific centres in Perth and Indonesia.

The capital expenditure program will involve a new manufacturing flow approach with increased automation, custom jigs, fixtures, workstations and a standardised manufacturing approach to building product. Austin will still be able to provide customised engineering solutions and products to its customers while leveraging the benefits of a production flow line, it says. In particular, Austin sees major benefits to its truck body product offering, which comprises circa-70% of Austin’s annual revenues.

Critical outcomes to the investment will be to reduce the time to deliver customised solutions to clients, while maintaining or enhancing quality outcomes. Further targets include waste reduction and decreasing the workshop capacity required, lowering the overall product cost base, Austin says.

The program of works was outlined in the second phase of Austin’s recently communicated global strategic review results, which identified opportunities for future growth and ways to optimise the company’s cost base.

The expected payback period is 12 months, post-implementation, with the majority of benefits to be realised in the company’s 2023 financial year, although incremental benefits will be achieved during the latter months of its 2022 financial year. Funding will be available through operating cash flows and surplus asset sales, according to Austin.

The approach is expected to be scalable and transferable to other Austin manufacturing operations in the medium term and will support Phase 3 of the strategic review, which focuses on further product and service improvements through technology and innovation, it says.

Austin CEO and Managing Director, David Singleton, said: “Improvements being made in Austin’s manufacturing facilities in Perth and Batam in Indonesia will elevate an already market-leading service offering. We will be able to deliver products more quickly, in larger quantities, with less waste, and with improved quality, while still offering tailored design and engineering solutions to our customers. What is exciting about our manufacturing improvement project is its scalability at a relatively modest incremental cost. This made the decision to adopt a fast follow from Perth to Batam easy. The investments made also support longer term strategies around product and service innovation as outlined in our strategic review.”

Austin Engineering’s strategic review identifies innovation, technology opportunities

Austin Engineering Ltd has completed a previously announced strategic review of its global business, with the first two phases of this review funding a third that will fuel innovation and technology development.

Austin initiated the strategic review in May 2021 in parallel with the decision to relocate its headquarters from Brisbane to Perth, in Australia. This move was carried out to, Austin says, bring the company’s central management closer to Austin’s major mining customers and its largest APAC manufacturing centres in Perth and Indonesia.

The strategic review aimed to identify opportunities to improve business efficiency and to align with the future needs of Austin’s mining industry customers. Ultimately, the review identified what Austin needs to do and where it needs to invest to be at the forefront of the industry, to grow earnings and, thereby, unlock value for its shareholders, it said.

Austin’s loading and hauling products are designed to meet the specific needs of its mining industry customers around the world. Its products are designed to help mining companies increase operational efficiency, improve site safety and help meet their environmental and decarbonisation targets. This is crucial as the mining industry works towards dramatically reducing emissions in the coming years, Austin said.

The strategic review outcomes are structured in three phases, representing short-, medium- and longer-term measures to create company value across Austin’s operations in Australia, North America, Indonesia and South America.

As Phase 1, Austin has already rebased the indirect support structures throughout the business and enters the new 2022 financial year (to June 30, 2022) with a leaner structure. By the end of June, about 50% of the “people cost reductions” identified in the review were completed, with 85% due for completion by the end of August, it said.

In addition to the rapid closure of its previous head office in Brisbane, Queensland, Austin has consolidated its separate businesses located in Mackay, Queensland, into Austin’s wholly-owned subsidiary, AUSTBORE. The consolidation enables a stronger focus on new product delivery and support in Queensland and reduces the focus on general repair and maintenance services, which have not been delivering “adequate earnings”, Austin said.

Austin will continue to deliver its own product offerings to the east coast of Australia from its manufacturing facilities in Perth and Batam, while continuing to offer support directly in Mackay through its existing team, it said.

Phase 2 will see Austin develop its major manufacturing sites, commencing in Perth, Australia.

“Austin has identified significant manufacturing opportunities to reduce waste and improve production efficiency and product consistency through the adoption of flow production and automation,” Austin said. “This will provide significant benefits for Austin’s major product ranges, in particular truck bodies, while remaining agile in bespoke designs and delivering unique capabilities for its customers.”

It is likely that the production system will be adopted in Batam to build bodies faster, use less factory space and improve product quality, according to Austin.

Initial project investment for Perth is underway with a final investment decision by the Austin Board planned within the next quarter.

In the US, Austin is reviewing its delivery logistics to improve overall “cost competitiveness”, the company said.

It explained: “Large truck bodies are difficult and expensive to move around the disparate mining centres of Canada, USA and Central America. Further detail around the changes being considered for North America will be announced when sufficient certainty has been achieved in the current review. Under consideration is an increasing presence in western Canada to service the oil sands region more effectively.”

Phase 3 is looking at putting technology and innovation at the forefront of a significantly expanded Austin product range.

The company explained: “Out of the review, Austin has established a new customer-focused, innovation and technology group that reports directly to the CEO. The team will interface directly with Austin’s major customers and will use innovation- and technology-led solutions in an agile implementation environment to meet customers’ needs for product capability and performance. Austin has already reviewed its technology pipeline with some of its major customers, with new developments already underway. Further details on these developments will be made available at the appropriate time.”

In the longer term, Austin says it seeks to increase its product offering, through a mix of in-house design, partnering with aligned businesses and M&A activity.

Cost savings to the business generated in Phases 1 and 2 are expected to provide funding for innovation and technology development, as well as enhancing earnings, it said.

Austin CEO and Managing Director, David Singleton, said: “The strategic review process has provided a chance for Austin to make some big decisions about what we most need to focus on for organic and inorganic growth of the company. Through this process, we will cut significant costs from the business while increasing output through adopting more advanced manufacturing techniques. Importantly, we are firmly concentrating our efforts to meet the needs of our mining customers into the future. Austin’s products will support our clients as they target net zero emissions, improve productivity and ensure ever safer operations.”

Austin partners with Belarus-based equipment dealer to further Eastern Europe sales growth

Austin Engineering Ltd has appointed Engineering Company Mining Technology LLC as its partner for the Eastern Europe region, covering Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Poland, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The appointment is part of Austin’s strategy to form partnerships in new jurisdictions, enabling the mining equipment solutions provider to widen its networks into new and existing global markets, resulting in further potential sales opportunities and benefits from a local partner’s customer relationships and local knowledge.

Austin says it is keen to grow the business in regions that it has traditionally not widely serviced, including Brazil and Eastern Europe.

Belarus-based Engineering Company Mining Technology LLC has developed a wealth of professional contacts within the regions it operates, with large original equipment manufacturers, mining companies and contractors, according to Austin. It has already sourced several important tender opportunities for Austin to enable users in these regions to benefit from light-weight mining attachments to enhance productivity.

The appointment follows the establishment of Austin-ETT Africa in South Africa in 2020.

On this relationship, specifically, Austin said it recently shipped 17 Austin Ultima truck bodies and two Austin High Performance buckets to Egypt through the Austin-ETT Africa, with more orders expected from active tenders across the African continent.

Austin Managing Director, Peter Forsyth, said: “We are aggressively pursuing global growth initiatives. We have a fantastic suite of products and services and we operate successfully in our traditional markets. However, we see an opportunity to grow our business and provide improved solutions to miners in new territories like Eastern Europe. In Engineering Company Mining Technology LLC, we believe we have found the right strategic partner in this region and we’re excited for our relationship to further strengthen through shared success.”

Austin Engineering lauds APAC performance as it heads for FY21 guidance hit

Austin Engineering Ltd is on track to hit its earning guidance after securing new orders for more than 100 products, including truck bodies, water tanks and buckets totalling more than A$35 million ($26 million) in revenue over the past few weeks.

This order flow supports previously announced earning guidance of an underlying net profit after tax in excess of A$9 million for its 2021 financial year (to June 30, 2021), which remains in place, Austin said.
Recent confirmed notable purchase orders received include:

  • Seventy-eight truck bodies for a large global miner in the Pilbara region of Western Australia for delivery throughout the balance of the current and next Australia financial years;
  • Twelve truck bodies for a large global mining contractor for delivery into Queensland, Australia – manufactured in Austin’s Indonesian facility;
  • Eight truck bodies for a large global gold miner in Western Australia; and
  • Three stairway access water tanks for a large global miner in Queensland, Australia – manufactured in Austin’s Indonesian facility.

Austin’s order book and committed work is now in excess of 70% of expected revenues, in line with this time in 2019, it said.

The Asia-Pacific region is outperforming expectations with key workshops in Perth and Indonesia well positioned to remain close to capacity for the balance of the financial year and beyond, the company added.

The economic environment in North and South America is less supportive than contemplated at the start of the financial year, Austin said.

“The continued backdrop of the US election and ongoing COVID-19 position in the USA appears to have impacted customer confidence in deploying capital in the short term,” it added. “Austin expects an improvement to this position, post January 2021, with annual budgets of US customers replenished on a calendar year basis, along with a completed Presidential transition. Ahead of this, Austin is currently quoting on a large volume of work in North America with decisions expected early in the third quarter (March quarter) of this financial year.”

Business conditions in South America have been similarly impacted by COVID-19, which has delayed several tender decisions for long-term supply contracts for both new equipment and repair and maintenance in Chile, Austin said. “Austin is well positioned for a number of opportunities but has seen short term softness due to the deferment of decisions,” it added.

Austin Managing Director, Peter Forsyth, said: “The Asia-Pacific region is performing exceptionally well at the moment with a strong line of sight to keeping our two large facilities in Perth and Indonesia close to capacity, and I am very happy with the level of orders and further opportunities in this region. Offsetting this strength, the Americas are currently facing challenging operating environments, and this is a product of the broader economies in those regions. I am heartened by the scale of opportunities in the US, Canada and Chile and we remain confident that the tide will begin to turn early in the New Year in these regions.”

In other innovation-focused developments, Austin said it was recently asked to provide a solution for a Canadian customer that had two key requirements when sourcing truck bodies for their operation: first, to achieve the maximum payload possible; and second, to ensure that the truck bodies would not require any maintenance before replacement.

Austin designed an ultra-light weight body that offered a substantial payload increase on previous designs with sufficient structural integrity to remain maintenance free for a shortened design life of less than two years, it said. This solution will enable the customer to achieve a lower cost per tonne and provides Austin with a more regular replacement cycle of equipment in this mine.

Austin truck bodies, buckets on their way to Egypt, Ukraine, Argentina and Dominican Republic

Austin Engineering’s growth initiative to expand the company’s presence into new markets appears to be working, with the company having recently won contracts to deliver products to Africa (Egypt), Eastern Europe (Ukraine), and South and Central America (Argentina and the Dominican Republic).

This is the first time in the company’s history that product has been supplied to these countries, it said.

The total value of orders, consisting of truck bodies and buckets, received is in excess of A$6 million ($4.3 million) and is anticipated to provide a springboard for further sales into these markets, the company said. The majority of the orders received by value have been provided from subsidiary companies of large global miners, it noted.

The order received in Egypt was made possible by the Austin ETT joint venture partnership entered into earlier this year. Prior to this partnership, Austin would not have been in the running for this opportunity, further cementing the value in collaborating with the right strategic partners in territories that Austin does not currently have a physical presence, the company said.

In line with this strategy, Austin Engineering has also recently signed a contract with a representative in South America to work with potential clients in Brazil and is in the process of finalising a representative to support Austin in Eastern Europe.

“Both of these markets have a large field population of mining trucks and shovels and could be important markets for Austin in the medium term,” the company said.

Austin Engineering Managing Director, Peter Forsyth, said: “These new territories are important to Austin’s growth aspirations, as there are a number of mining regions around the world that are still largely operating with standard OEM products for truck bodies and excavator buckets. Adoption of Austin’s innovative replacement products in these regions would enhance production metrics significantly.

“Partnerships are proving key to our success in entering these new regions and allow us to leverage our experience with our partners’ commercial contacts to achieve great outcomes for Austin, our clients and our partners.”

ADE and Austin Engineering-designed water trucks delivered to Glencore mine

Australian Diversified Engineering (ADE) and Austin Engineering have come together to improve dust control and enhance safety at the Glencore-owned McArthur River mine in the Northern Territory of Australia.

ADE’s revolutionary water spray application technology and Austin’s innovative Stairway Access Tank (SAT) are now embedded in two uniquely designed CAT 789 water trucks, which have a 159,000 litre capacity, on site at the operation.

The zinc-lead-silver mine had contracted EPSA to supply and maintain mobile equipment on site and required two new water trucks to be added to its operations, ADE said. Being mindful of improving dust control and ensuring better safety for its workers, it decided to have the trucks specifically designed for the application at hand.

The exclusive design has produced what is now known as the safest water tank in the mining industry, according to ADE. It is an engineering collaboration of which ADE General Manager, Clive Gray, says has set a new bar for water truck technology.

“Controlling airborne dust on mine sites is incredibly important,” he explained. “It minimises the risks to workers, but knowing just how much water to spray has its own challenges and can also become a hazard, leading to unplanned vehicle movement and, even worse, closing a haul road for many hours.

“We have been manufacturing safety equipment for the mining industry for many years but being able to work together with Austin Engineering has allowed us to deliver an exceptional solution for the McArthur River mine. We feel confident that they will see positive outcomes in terms of improved safety and better dust control very quickly, making this a great investment.”

The water truck-based ADE Spray System is a spray control system that consistently sprays a controlled rate of water onto the ground, regardless of speed, to effectively control airborne dust, according to ADE.

Road friction measurements can be used to determine the maximum safe water coverage rate which, in turn, reduces waste and decreases the risk of an unplanned movement. During operations, the system data logs all spray activities which can be used to generate reports and assess operations.

Gray says it is the ability to both measure and monitor that makes the ADE Spray System such a game changer.

“One of the biggest issues for mine sites is knowing how much water to spray on the road,” he said. “Too much or too little have equal repercussions, with safety issues being the greatest concern.

“Mining operators can quickly and easily monitor and track all aspects of their water truck operations using our on-board data logging system, which effectively cuts costs and improves environmental factors in regards to monitoring water usage.

“By eliminating over and under watering, costs, fuel and water usage are naturally reduced, but it is the safety of the mining workers that is at the forefront of our designs.

“By developing and implementing innovative technologies into mines around Australia we limit the risks involved to mining workers, and that is something we are very proud of.”

Austin’s truck-mounted SAT system, meanwhile, includes several features to improve efficiency, operator safety and truck stability, Austin says. The most obvious external feature of the Austin water tank is a stairway from the top of the tank structure down to a large (137 cm x 259 cm) access port for easy entry and exit for personnel and maintenance equipment to the tank interior. The fill port is located behind the water dam to ensure any overflow flows away from the cab and deck to the rear of the truck, Austin says. This helps significantly improve operator safety and comfort inside the tank.

The custom designed CAT 789-based trucks began their journey in Wyoming, USA, where they were initially designed, before then being manufactured in Batam, Indonesia. The trucks were then assembled in Australia by Austin Engineering before ADE engineers installed its latest safety technology, ADE said.

The trucks were then delivered to the mine site where ADE engineers arrived to ensure all components were running as planned before the trucks started their first day of action.

WA gold mine looks for payload boost in Austin Ultima truck body trial

One of Western Australia’s key gold mines is trialling Austin Engineering’s new Ultima truck bodies on several of the operation’s 240 t haul trucks as it looks to optimise and maximise its haulage fleet payloads.

The trial has the potential to be converted into a fleet-wide body upgrade, according to Austin, continuing a program that started in 2014 when the engineering company fitted its JEC bodies and increased payload by more than 20 t/load at the operation.

The new Ultima body (pictured on a truck) will take the payload up to 240 t/load and further maximise the haul fleet’s availability and productivity, Austin said.

Going back to the previous payload increase program, the JEC bodies were fitted to the haul fleet after the mine identified a series of production-oriented challenges – including weight of the OEM bodies, the high cost of maintaining the bodies (and subsequent non-availability of the haul truck) and non-achievement of target payloads – impacting on performance and productivity of the load-haul fleet, according to Austin.

Initially 11 bodies were ordered and ultimately the mine’s load-haul fleet was retrofitted.

The customised bodies lifted payload capacity to 230 t/load – an increase of around 20 t/load over the OEM bodies – an outcome of the weight differential between the OEM tray and the JEC body. “Along with increased payload, the body change-out improved haul fleet availability and performance – the result of less frequent unscheduled body repairs, an outcome of the replaceable floor in the JEC body, which eliminated the need for heavy, maintenance-intensive wear line plates,” Austin said.

Now, with the trial progressing, the long-serving JEC units are in line to be replaced by the Ultima bodies which, due to further advances in the payload capacity vs body weight equation, will lift payload to 240 t/load and still meet all OEM dump truck specifications, according to Austin.

“The Ultima haul truck body has the potential to be a significant gamechanger in haul fleet operation due to its advanced steel and design technologies,” Austin said. “A lighter-weight module design, it features improved structural integrity for superior impact and wear resistance, extended fatigue life and lower maintenance costs – all targeted to maximised payload, improved cycle efficiency and significantly reduced total cost of ownership.”

A ‘V’ profile floor, designed to actively channel the load to the centre of the tray, improves machine stability and safety, according to Austin. The floor design also reduces dump cycle times (empty is achieved at 3/4 tipping).

Although the new tray is lighter and stronger than current OEM bodies – which translates to a 10-15% weight saving without sacrificing payload – its design reduces overall tray wear, which significantly increases availability and improves productivity of the mine’s load-haul cycle, Austin said.

The miner’s expectation of the Ultima body is for 240 t/load and, according to the manufacturer, when matched with the appropriate loading tool – such as the 32 m³ bucket on the mine’s shovel excavator – this load figure will be consistently and efficiently achieved.

Just as it did for the JEC units, Austin will maintain a condition monitoring program for the new bodies and advise the mine on any maintenance issues, it said.

The miner is also using Austin bodies in other operations around the world. Specialised hauler bodies have been customised to add significant value and reduce operational costs in underground mining operations, it said.

Austin Engineering on the importance of payload matching

Austin Engineering’s David Pichanick thinks miners need to keep payload matching front and centre of their minds when looking to add to, refresh or replace their truck and shovel haulage fleet.

Why payload matching and what’s involved in matching an excavator to a truck?

According to Pichanick, Global Manager Market Development & Innovation at Brisbane-based Austin Engineering, the answers are efficiency, productivity and profit, and understanding factors such as site conditions, load and haul equipment and production targets.

Anecdotal research has revealed payload matching around achieving lowest cost per tonne is not well understood within the mining industry, according to Austin. Irrespective of the loading tool (excavator, shovel or wheel loader), the accepted goal is to get the payload consistent over time to maximise productivity and production.

Buying the right equipment package – loading tool and dump bodies – is vital and history has shown that the bigger the capital expenditure up front, the better the return on that investment, particularly around reliability and availability, Austin says.

“The loading tool comes first, followed by the dump trucks,” the company said. “And, ironically, depending on the equipment package, that could be the start of issues of reduced load and haul productivity.”

Pichanick says the most efficient bucket, excavator and truck combination currently in Australia is a Liebherr R9800 three-pass loading Komatsu 930E-5 dump trucks, fitted with Austin ‘Ultima’ bodies. Released last year, the new Ultima dump truck body has, Austin says, a unique ‘V’ profile floor that is designed to actively channel the load to the centre of the tray.

What makes this combination so efficient and consistent?

Every excavator and truck manufacturer will provide researched and validated tables and graphs that show the best truck and excavator combination, of their brand, to maximise payloads, Austin says. The problem arises when customers don’t buy the same brand of trucks as the excavator, or vice versa.

For reasons of price, contracts, preference and proven performance history, many miners will purchase an excavator from OEM ‘A’ and trucks from OEM ‘B’. And because the bodies on the trucks are not matched – as set by the manufacturer – to the loading tool, the concept of payload matching enters a grey area, productivity drops and costs around load and haul increase markedly, the company says.

This mismatching becomes apparent on site as truck OEMs look at variations in the 10/10/20 rule to maximise payloads and the direct effect the specific gravity (SG) of the product has on loads. And, although unique, these two elements have a close correlation when loads and capacities are being decided, according to Austin.

“The 10/10/20 rule has long been recognised as a reliable reference for truck payloads and recognises that variations occur in SG, fill factors and loading equipment,” the company said. “However, in an attempt to optimise payload capacity, truck OEMs are negotiating flexibility around the rule depending on reliable SG readings. Today, SG readings are coming from the digital technology available in the latest loading tools; technology that measures payload per pass and lets loading tool operators see if the SG is changing. This is a much safer system than waiting till the load is on the truck.”

Austin Engineering has a vested interest in any discussions around payload matching. The company designs and manufactures custom-designed excavator buckets and truck bodies for the mining industry but, as an independent OEM, can be objective about its recommendations around payload optimisation, it says. Austin conforms to all OEM specifications, globally.

The company has invested heavily in advanced software to match loading tools to truck bodies and, argues Pichanick, devotes a lot of time and effort to the science of payload matching and, by extension, maximising productivity and profit for the end user.

Which brings the discussion back to the Liebherr R9800 and Komatsu 930E-5 dump trucks – possibly the most efficient excavator and truck combination in Australia now.

“We were asked to provide the truck bodies,” Pichanick said. “The customer didn’t want the excavator/truck combination suggested by either supplier but purchased the equipment package they believe will maximise the return – in terms of performance, availability and reliability – over the longer term. Our bodies were custom built to fit the trucks and complement the capabilities of the excavator. The load and haul tonnages they are generating confirm the buying decision.”

From Pichanick’s point of view, this is the true proof of successful payload matching.

Austin Engineering expands into South Africa with ETT partnership

Australia-based Austin Engineering says it has signed a partnership agreement with South Africa’s ETT to market and support their combined mining-oriented product ranges throughout Africa.

The agreement, which follows around 12 months of talks, will bring together two of the southern hemisphere’s largest mining equipment design and manufacturing entities, Austin said.

Austin has more than 50 years of global experience in engineering and manufacturing equipment for the mining industry with operations in Australia, Asia, North and South America, and now South Africa. ETT, meanwhile, is a privately-owned South Africa-based company with products already distributed in more than 20 countries around the world.

Austin Engineering Managing Director, Peter Forsyth (pictured on the left), said: “We are looking forward to growing this partnership. It gives both companies a solid and reliable platform from which to offer customers throughout the continent proven world-class products backed up by world-class service.”

ETT Managing Director, Andre McDuling (pictured on the right), added: “ETT’s manufacturing and innovative record, as well as our strong presence and product supply into Africa, is one of the key reasons why this partnership was formed. We are confident that the industry is ready for a partnership like this that will provide the widest range of mining attachments and support products in the world.”

The combined product range of the new partnership will include customised dump truck bodies, water trucks, diesel lube trucks, gooseneck-equipped recovery vehicles, tyre handlers, low bed off-road trailers and excavator buckets.