Tag Archives: WesTrac

Enerpac EVO solution gives WesTrac and Cat 994K wheel loader a needed lift

Enerpac’s EVO synchronous lifting system has come to the rescue of WesTrac in Western Australia, with the Caterpillar dealer in need of an efficient, portable and safe solution to lift its Cat® 994K wheel loader.

The system needed to be operated independently without manual intervention and provide a locking function during the lift, according to Enerpac.

The 200 t Cat wheel loader had to be lifted to a height of 400-450 mm with an accuracy of +/- 2 mm across four lift points: a process carried out on uneven ground, which caused the lifting points to be at different heights. The lifting equipment needed to work independently to the pump and required forklift pockets so it could be manoeuvred into place easily, according to Enerpac.

Enerpac recommended its EVO synchronous lifting system, which, the company says, allows one device to control the entire lifting operation while providing status updates at every point of the process without the need for manual monitoring. By digitally monitoring and controlling lifting operations, users enhance safety and eliminate costly downtime, it says.

“Utilising proven synchronised lifting technology, combined with an expertise in high tonnage cylinder manufacturing, a customised Enerpac solution was developed to provide a high-precision lifting system to lift the Cat wheel loader on challenging ground conditions,” Enerpac explained.

Sanjesh Balgovind, Heavy Lifting Technology Special Projects Manager, Enerpac, said: “With an intuitive user interface, the custom EVO synchronous lifting system is easy to set up and control. It combines high pressure hydraulics and computer controls to monitor and control precise lifting and movement of heavy loads, such as WesTrac’s 200 t Cat wheel loader.”

Assembling and transporting over-dimension vehicles like the Cat wheel loader requires several steps, according to Balgovind.

“It often involves locating and positioning the lifting equipment at the appropriate lift points, removing the wheels, attaching wheel stands, and lowering the vehicle to the ground followed by removing the lifting equipment,” Balgovind says.

“Thereafter, a multi-wheel trailer would be placed under the vehicle and the wheel stands removed before it is ready for transportation. Using short stroke cylinders without synchronous lifting would be time-consuming, cumbersome and could introduce additional risk if the load is lifted at different heights.”

Through an integrated human machine interface, all movements are operated from a central control system displaying live operation and real time status updates of each lifting position. The Enerpac EVO system can deliver an accuracy of up to 1 mm across all lift points and provides stroke feedback and indicative load at each point, according to the company. In addition, there are built-in warning and stop alarms to ensure optimum safety.

The custom HCRL-Series 100-ton (91 t) 18 in stroke cylinders have servo motor-driven lock nuts that provide mechanical load holding across all lift points for a safe work environment, according to the company, while its hardened and robust surface is designed to resist side-loading and cyclic wear. The locknut drive controller is mounted on the cylinder and keeps the locking collar 3-6 mm from the cylinder body. The cylinders are then affixed in custom steel frames with lifting pockets.

The lifting frames are then placed at the respective lift points with forklifts and connected to a custom EVO-Series synchronous lifting system, ready for lifting. As the rear of the truck requires a higher lift point, the frames are further attached to stands for additional height. The cylinders are then placed at the respective lift points with forklifts and connected to the EVO system, ready for lifting. A flow of 3 litres per minute is used to ensure that the locking collar adjustment can keep up with cylinder extension and retraction.

“At a rate of 1 mm/s, the wheel loader is lifted with significant safety and productivity gains,” Balgovind says. “The auto-locking cylinders provide an improved safety application as the load is always mechanically locked during both lifting and lowering operations.

“It is a safe and effective solution for applications with potential safety risks of working with hydraulic-suspended loads. In addition, given the portability of the system, it was brought to site easily and could function in a convenient manner.”

WesTrac to rebuild Rio’s Pilbara dozers at Geraldton facility

Rio Tinto, WesTrac and the Western Australia Government have agreed on a project that will see dozers from Rio’s Pilbara operations head to WesTrac’s Geraldton facility for rebuilds, with up to 54 machines committed between 2021 and 2025.

Western Australia Regional Development Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, welcomed the news, saying it would provide a major boost for the Mid-West’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.

The project was negotiated between the State Government through the Mid West Development Commission and industry after feasibility studies identified WesTrac’s Perth and Pilbara facilities were at capacity and unable to accommodate the additional repairs and maintenance required by Rio’s mining operations.

The Geraldton facility will receive up to 12 dozer rebuilds annually, from various Pilbara operations, according to the statement.

The project will support two new, localised apprenticeship opportunities in the Mid-West as well as creating new local skilled jobs and providing pathways to employment with Rio Tinto, the government said. The project also reduces transport times and negates logistical difficulties mining companies face getting heavy machinery in and out of the metropolitan area.

“The state will look to expand the initiative into a cross-regional Smart Specialisation project with linkages to the Kimberley and Goldfields regions, using the Mid-West as a demonstration pilot,” it added.

MacTiernan said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will see more work carried out in our regional centres, rather than shifting to Perth. It confirms that geography is not a barrier to global success for our regionally-based METS facilities, but in fact an advantage.”

Rio Tinto Port, Rail and Core Services Managing Director, Richard Cohen, said: “Rio Tinto is committed to growing regional Western Australia by supporting jobs and training opportunities for local people. Regional investment initiatives like the METS project will deliver ongoing benefits to the local economy.

“By unlocking the capabilities of the Geraldton WesTrac branch, we are significantly reducing transport time by removing the roughly 900-km round trip to Perth. This will lower costs, improve productivity and reduce the risk of driving related incidents that can occur on congested metropolitan roads.”

WesTrac CEO, Jarvas Croome, said the company was committed to developing capacity and capability throughout the state.

“Like many providers in the METS sector, WesTrac is seeing strong demand across all areas of our business due to the level of mining and construction activity,” he said. “That applies to new and used equipment sales, training, maintenance services and equipment rebuilds, and if there are opportunities to expand our offerings in regional centres and provide efficient outcomes for our customers, we’ll happily consider them.”

As well as multiple metropolitan operations, WesTrac currently has branches in eight regional centres including the major Western Australia mining regions. The company also operates as the authorised dealer of Caterpillar equipment in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Immersive to supply simulators, solutions for Rio’s Gudai-Darri automation

Rio Tinto has enlisted the help of Immersive Technologies and its equipment simulators to further its autonomous haulage footprint at the new Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia.

The mine, which will operate Caterpillar autonomous trucks equipped with Cat MineStar™ Command for Hauling system, will use simulation-based training solutions from Immersive Technologies to address the workforce development challenges within autonomous haulage operations with a focus on improving the safety and efficiency of their operator workforce, Immersive said.

Rio has used such systems from Immersive for over 17 years, understanding the value of investing in simulators for operator capability development, including equipment productivity and reliability initiatives, Immersive said.

Rio Tinto Vice President, Human Resources, Scott Browne, said: “This is an important component of our comprehensive training program for AHS, which includes supporting new team members as well as upskilling existing employees. Gudai-Darri will be one of the world’s most technologically advanced mines. Preparations are well under way to ensure its workforce is ready to take on the high-tech jobs on offer.”

Focused on capability development in the usage of the autonomous system, Rio Tinto partnered with Immersive Technologies to provide a solution to support the mine-readiness schedule and objectives, Immersive said. Specific training products include a platform which simulates a Cat 6060 excavator, Cat D10T dozer and Cat 18M grader. All simulator modules are equipped with an autonomous system panel and provide a safe and effective environment for training by allowing learners to operate their equipment while interacting with the autonomous trucks and managing their work areas as required, the company added.

The simulator solution is complimented by machine pre-start inspection software, which provides a detailed visualisation of equipment components, including autonomous components fitted to machines. Additionally, a ‘Virtual Classroom’ product hosts complex autonomous procedures that immerses learners in a safe and repeatable virtual environment which enables the development of deep knowledge and muscle memory of operational procedures, Immersive said.

Greg Karadjian, Regional Vice President Australia of Immersive, said: “Immersive Technologies is at the forefront of workforce development for autonomous haulage mining operations with deployments of simulation-based training solutions in more than 17 autonomous sites globally, by utilising blended learning systems, simulation and human performance analytics our solutions are preparing the workforces of the future.”

Back in 2019, Rio, Caterpillar and WesTrac signed an agreement to supply and support mining machines, automation and enterprise technology systems at Gudai-Darri, with Rio confirming the supply of a fleet of 20 autonomous 793F trucks as well as four autonomous blast drills.

Gudai-Darri will deliver a new production hub for Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in the Pilbara. Once complete, the mine will have an annual capacity of 43 Mt, underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend, Rio’s flagship iron ore product.

Ausdrill commissions automation-ready Cat MD6250 drill at Boggabri

Ausdrill says it has just commissioned the first of four new Caterpillar MD6250 drills at the Boggabri coal operations in New South Wales, Australia.

The machine has been successfully commissioned on site four weeks ahead of the contract start date, according to the Perenti company, with the help of the WesTrac team at Tomago, NSW.

These M6250 drills come with the next level of drill automation and driller assist, Ausdrill says, including one touch auto levelling and auto drilling functions combined with Cat MineStar Terrain for drilling to improve safety, productivity, reliability and accuracy.

Back in February, Perenti reported its Surface Mining Industry Sector Group had been awarded A$155.5 million ($113 million) in new and extended contracts. This included a three-year contract (with options to extend) for production drilling services with Boggabri Coal Operations (a part of Idemitsu Australia Resources Group) at Boggabri.

The MD6250 is designed for both down-the-hole drilling in hard rock and rotary drilling in softer rock. The blasthole drill carries out single-pass drilling and multi pass, as well as angle drilling, according to Cat.

MACA is currently running an MD6250 at the Bluff coal mine, in Queensland, while AngloGold Ashanti Australia, with support from Flanders and Tropicana Mining Alliance partner, Macmahon Holdings, now has five autonomous Cat MD6250 drill rigs as part of its drilling fleet at the Tropicana gold mine, in Western Australia. Thiess, Cat and WesTrac have also introduced an MD6250 drill rig with autonomous drilling capability at Mount Pleasant, in New South Wales, in a phased 12-month pilot project.

WesTrac tackles heavy machinery and equipment risks with ELW project

Caterpillar dealer WesTrac is looking to remove personnel from within the footprint of live equipment in up to 90% of common maintenance tasks with its new Elimination of Live Work (ELW) project.

The ELW project has involved WesTrac staff from across the business identifying technology, tools and work processes that can eliminate safety risks involved with people working near live equipment.

Initially introduced to WesTrac by a major mining client as part of ongoing safety improvement initiatives, it has since gained industry-wide focus, the company said.

WesTrac’s Newman Branch Manager, James Davey, said the aim of the project, which involves a range of mining-focused original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service teams, was to eliminate significant risk factors associated with working on heavy machinery and equipment.

“The purpose of this project is not to deal with little nicks and cuts, it’s about saving lives,” Davey said. “If things go wrong when people are working on live equipment with multiple moving parts, and that can weigh hundreds of tonnes, the results could be disastrous.

“It’s an area of major focus across the Australian mining and construction sectors to continually reduce risks and enhance safety performance.”

Since commencing its own ELW project in 2018, WesTrac has devised a range of specialised tools, some itself and some in collaboration with mining companies and other OEMs.

One such tool, affectionately known as R2D2, is a remote-controlled camera mounted on an anti-vibrating base that can swivel 360° to carry out a wide range of inspections on live machines. Controlled from a tablet, the camera provides the operator with a real-time view and can record the session for closer follow-up investigation.

Davey says the camera’s resolution and 30-times optical zoom allow operators to read gauges, look for leaks and even carry out pre-maintenance checks.

“Inspections are often the first part of a task and this camera allows those carrying out the work to stay out of the danger zone, particularly if a machine is running,” he said.

WesTrac has also developed an ELW Field Service Kit with a range of tooling to allow both mobile and workshop-based mechanics to carry out numerous inspection and testing requirements without the need to work in proximity of high-risk areas, it said.

Davey said the company was currently developing work instructions, expected to be complete within the next three months, and would then deploy specialists to WesTrac’s branches, stores and sites to assist in embedding ELW practices.

“By December this year, we expect all sites to be equipped with the required tools, technology and understanding to carry out 90% of live work tasks under the ELW work practices,” he said. “For the remaining 10% of tasks that still require personnel to work within the footprint, we’re enhancing procedures to ensure an even greater focus on risk elimination.”

Davey said while equipment and service providers typically worked in competition with one another, when it came to safety the attitude was completely different.

“When it comes to saving lives and reducing risk, everyone is willing to share technology, tools and knowledge to drive better outcomes,” he said.

WesTrac has already been recognised for its ELW work with a safety award from BHP and recognition of the ELW program from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

“Over the next 12 months, our goal is to transition ELW from a project to the standard ‘way we work’,” Davey concluded.

WesTrac recognises women working in Pilbara mines with purple Cat grader

A Cat grader with a difference is on its way from Caterpillar dealer WesTrac’s Port Hedland workshop, in Western Australia, to a Pilbara mine site.

Unlike the typical yellow Cat equipment in use across Australia’s mining sector, this is likely to be the only purple grader operating anywhere in Australia, WesTrac says.

The eye-catching finish was applied as part of a machine rebuild by WesTrac and is designed to promote recognition of the Women in Mining in the Pilbara group.

WesTrac Area Manager, Jason Hill, said while the team had painted equipment in various colours including blue, green, pink and black before, it was the first time he’d come across a request for purple.

“It’s not a shade we have on hand as part of the standard Cat colour range, so to meet the brief we engaged one of our key customers and local suppliers that regularly assists us with equipment painting,” Hill said.

“No doubt it will turn some heads when it makes the journey back to site this week and that’s exactly the purpose – to generate recognition and attention for the big number of women working in the mining sector across the Pilbara region.”

Hill said the rebuild was also a great example of mining companies providing work opportunities to support the local communities in which they operate.

“While these sorts of full rebuilds have traditionally been carried out at WesTrac’s Perth workshop, the company also has Caterpillar trained technicians and fully-equipped facilities within its extensive regional network around the state, and mining operators’ willingness to utilise these local workshops is boosting regional employment opportunities,” he said.

“The unusual colour finish has allowed WesTrac to further extend that use of local business as well.”

National Group’s NPE delivers Cat 994K wheel loader to Rio’s Marandoo iron ore site

National Group says its National Plant & Equipment (NPE) subsidiary has delivered Australia’s first rental Cat 994K wheel loader to Rio Tinto’s Marandoo iron ore mine in Western Australia.

After arriving in Perth from the Caterpillar manufacturing facility in Decatur, Illinois, USA, the wheel loader began pre-assembly on February 17 by WesTrac at its Reid Road facility, in WA. From there, the oversized load was disassembled for transportation from Perth to the Pilbara, where final assembly took place on site at Marandoo before being handed over to Rio Tinto to begin work in early May.

Marandoo is one of Rio’s Pilbara iron ore assets to feature autonomy. Back in 2017, Cat and Rio Tinto signed an agreement to retrofit 19 Cat 793F mining trucks for autonomous operation at the site, making it the first fleet of Cat autonomous trucks deployed by Rio Tinto.

National Group said Cat large wheel loaders are well known as the ‘top of their class’ due to their sheer size and durability that ensures maximum availability through multiple life cycles. “The 994K doesn’t disappoint, with a net power of 1,297 kW, an operating weight of over 240 t and a bucket capacity range of 19.1 – 24.5 m³ for hard-rock conditions (up to 43.6 m³ for soft rock), making it the largest wheel loader currently manufactured by Caterpillar,” it said.

Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director, said: “With optimised performance and simplified serviceability, the 994K allows mine sites to move more material efficiently and safely at a lower cost per tonne.

“They are the ideal machine for large mining companies such as Rio Tinto to maximise their efficiency and productivity and reduce the level of ongoing maintenance required.”

Geoff Bailey, WesTrac Executive General Manager of Sales, said: “WesTrac have worked closely with NPE for more than seven years and we’re proud to continue to support the business with industry-leading equipment and technology.

“The 994K can handle large payloads even in tough conditions, loading a matched Cat 789 or 793 haul truck in five to six passes, respectively. It’s a highly efficient option for our WA mining customers.”

Ackroyd said there was currently less than 10 994Ks in Australia, “so we are very excited to own a brand new model and to see it go to work with one of our key clients”.

As many businesses and industries come to a halt due to COVID-19 restrictions, National Group says it is preparing to deliver a range of other machinery to mine sites around Australia in the coming months.

Thiess, Cat, WesTrac collaborating on Mount Pleasant autonomous drilling project

Thiess says it is realising the benefits of drill automation after undergoing a successful field trial at MACH Energy’s majority-owned Mount Pleasant coal operation in the Hunter Valley of Australia.

In collaboration with Caterpillar and WesTrac, Thiess introduced a new Caterpillar MD6250 drill rig with autonomous drilling capability at Mount Pleasant in a phased 12-month pilot project, it said.

The autonomous drill uses state-of-the-art guidance technologies to assist operators in drilling holes to the exact location and depth specified by the drill plan, resulting in safer and more efficient blasting.

Thiess General Manager Autonomous Services, Matt Petty, said the purpose of the pilot was to test the functionality and application of the technology while determining its viability for Thiess’ team, operations and clients.

“This trial is an exciting opportunity for us to investigate the applicability of the technology at our operations and train our people in the remote management of autonomous equipment,” Petty said. “The results are showing significant productivity improvements, safer operations and upskilling opportunities for our people.”

The phased pilot program is progressing through three stages of drill automation – operator mission assist, semi-autonomous drilling and full autonomy and perception, Thiess said.

The current stage, semi-autonomous drilling, automates the entire drilling cycle for one row, including moving between holes, from a remote operator station, it added.

“The drill is now controlled by satellite-guided precision ensuring the blast holes are drilled exactly to the design coordinates and desired floor elevation,” Petty said. “This stage allows our operators to select a row of holes for the drill to navigate and auto drill. Operators also help to monitor and authorise the auto-tram between holes to ensure safety is maintained.”

In the coming months, the drill will be fitted with proximity detection and collision avoidance technology, enabling full automation, Thiess said.

Mount Pleasant Drill Operator, Zac Brasington, said the remote operation of the drill had proven safety, precision and equipment utilisation benefits for his team.

“Working remotely eliminates operators’ exposure to potential high-risk activities and allows the drill to function without operator restrictions,” Brasington said. “The remote station replicates the seat and controls of the machine’s cab, allowing us, as operators, to control the machine with minimal decrease in functionality or productivity.

“It’s also helping drive consistency at our operation with improved accuracy in hole placement, trajectory and depth.”

Thiess’ team has been working closely with Caterpillar and the WesTrac team on the implementation plan throughout the trial process, it said.

Brasington added: “I’ve also had the opportunity to gain new skills and competencies. It’s very rewarding knowing I’m one of the few operators, worldwide, who is able to operate an autonomous drill.”

The outcome of the trial will help to inform how Thiess delivers automation as part of its services offering, according to the company.

Thiess first began mining at Mount Pleasant on November 20, 2017, following a successful five-month mobilisation period. The contractor is responsible for providing a full mining service and increasing mining production to 10.5 Mt/y run-of-mine, according to its website. The team is also undertaking progressive rehabilitation at the site.

Dargues gold mine on the road to production: DRA Global

DRA Global says it is in the final stages of the implementation of the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) of the gold concentrate plant for Diversified Minerals’ Dargues gold project, in New South Wales, Australia.

The engineering company was awarded the EPC contract back in January 2019 after detailed design for the project commenced in March 2018. At this point, first ore was expected to be processed in early 2020.

As of March 2020, the plant construction and wet commissioning has been completed, DRA said. Hot commissioning is planned to take place soon and expected to be completed in early April. After this, the DRA team will hand over the 330,000 t/y plant to the client’s operations team, it said.

Dargues, owned by Diversified Minerals, an associated company of PYBAR Mining Services, was previously expected to have a 355,000 t/y capacity gold processing facility comprising crushing, milling, flotation and filtration circuits to produce a sulphide concentrate for export. This could see Dargues produce an average of 50,000 oz/y of gold in the first six years of production.

The mine, which will be operated by PYBAR, is also set to incorporate tele-remote loading. In December, Diversified Minerals took delivery of a second new Cat R1700 underground LHD following commissioning of the first loader during August.

The new machines are equipped with Caterpillar’s next generation Command for Underground technology, giving them automation capabilities that will allow them to be driven via tele-remote from the surface from early-2020. This will realise significant productivity, efficiency and safety gains, according to PYBAR.

Members of the Austmine Board were recently invited to a tour of the Dargues gold mine (pictured).

WesTrac Tomago puts latest Cat mining line on show

Caterpillar dozers, motor graders and a large wheel loader were on show at WesTrac’s Tomago site in New South Wales, Australia, earlier this month, as the Cat dealer looked to showcase some of the mining OEM’s latest offering.

The annual Mining Equipment Showcase gave customers, trade associations and employees the opportunity to get up close to the latest mining machinery, from March 9-13.

The mining equipment on display this year included the new Cat D11 and Cat D10T2 large track type tractors (dozers), Cat 18M3 and Cat 24 motor graders, and a Cat 994K large wheel loader.

The Cat D11 large dozer, which is already up and running at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Blackwater coal mine in Queensland, Australia, comes with an optional 360° camera system to decrease blind spots, plus a factory-fitted fire suppression system, improved access systems and ground level service centres. Cat has said previously that new load-sensing hydraulics and new drive train components deliver up to 8% fuel efficiency gains compared with the previous dozer model.

The Cat 24 motor grader has front and rear cameras for improved visibility, along with a working at heights package that includes handrails and hand holds to improve safe access. It is also the first model in this range that can be fitted with an optional 8.5 m moldboard to allow for either wider grading (and hence less passes) or grading at an increased speed.

It’s Cat 18M3 motor grader has a service access platform for safer means of access to both the operator’s cabin and maintainer’s access to the machine’s engine. Built on the success of the 16 series of motor graders, it has an increased moldboard length over its predecessor.

The Cat 994K wheel loader, meanwhile, has a powered access system that allows operators to maintain three points of contact when boarding the machine. It also boasts a 29% increase in payload, 19% increase in power and 28% boost in breakout force compared with the previous model (994H). It is also, according to WesTrac, a more productive machine than competitor models in the same range.