Driving innovation in tyre solutions

Kal Tire’s Innovation Centre has unveiled new tools that significantly reduce the risk of wheel failure while improving performance and safety.

Tyres are the unsung heroes of the mining industry. An important feature, tyres are essential across the entire supply chain from haul trucks on site to bulk material handling equipment at the port.

However, any time a tyre needs to be changed it can slow down operations and, with the immense size of the machinery involved, can potentially cause safety hazards to those servicing the equipment.

Kal Tire’s Innovation Centre in western Canada has introduced a number of practical solutions that allow team members to perform tyre and wheel work from a safe distance. 

The Magnet Clamp, which was one of several products unveiled by Kal Tire at this year’s MINExpo in Las Vegas, is designed to allow simple removal and installation of tyre and wheel assemblies with a focus on safety and efficiency.

Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group Australia vice president Miles Rigney says when it comes to removing tyre and wheel assemblies on large mining equipment, one of the challenges is the removal of the last wheel nuts while keeping the tyre technician out of the line of fire. 

“The idea of the Magnet Clamp is that instead of the last nuts being removed in the three o’clock and nine o’clock position, what we do now is we actually remove those first,” Rigney tells Australian Mining.

“Then we install these magnet clamps and remove all the other nuts as the tyre handler moves out of the way

“Another key point to understand is that not only do we use this to remove the assembly from the truck, but we also use it for installing it.

“So the Magnet Clamp can be used in both scenarios. It can be used to safely remove and safely install the assemblies. This is a really practical innovation that I am really proud of.”

Rigney says the Magnet Clamp has applications for more than wheel removal and installation on trucks.

“Any of the large mining equipment such as wheel loaders where you have to bolt and un-bolt the wheel assemblies, the Magnet Clamp is designed to deal with that challenge,” Rigney says.

“We see this innovation as a way of taking the task of changing wheel assemblies to the next level. Our team members no longer have to be in a restricted work zone to carry out that task.”

The Wheel Inspection is another new tool that Kal Tire’s Innovation Centre has developed to eliminate unexpected, costly breakdowns and help protect technicians from risk – in this case, the force of a catastrophic wheel failure. 

As earthmover equipment is subjected to ever-increasing payload and speeds, wheels can develop fractures in sensitive areas such as welds, ring grooves and holes. 

Left unchecked, the severity of cracks can increase, leading to leaks, wheel failure and the potential to endanger lives and equipment. 

Rigney says transporting wheels to and from sites for inspection can create significant costs for a company.

“That process can literally take months from start to finish,” he says. “It requires hundreds, if not thousands, of transport kilometres, particularly in areas like Western Australia where the product may have to go from the Pilbara to Perth and then sent back.

“The work that Kal Tire has been doing in this area is in a portable testing device which will allow wheel inspections to be done on site.”

The Wheel Inspection is a portable solution that follows the circumference of a rim to scan for signs of cracking using an electromagnetic NDT system for rapid crack and corrosion assessment. 

When the solution detects a crack, a red indicator illuminates and a mounted computer retains high-resolution scans of each weld for reporting. 

Rigney says one of the benefits of this reporting is the recording of data from the tests, which gives a detailed analysis of any issues that arise from the inspection.

“So, with this system we get a digital record of what was found and delivers a safe outcome for the client,” he says.

“For customers to ultimately be able to perform rim inspections at the mine site will save costs, allow more frequent inspections and also provide quicker responses about which wheels can safely return to operation.” 

Rigney says the purpose of the Innovation Centre is to create new products and solutions that make it safer for team members and people in the industry, and increase efficiencies for customers.

“Kal Tire services more than 150 mines sites across five continents so with that comes the responsibility for us to engage our team members in each of the regions and ask them what solutions work for them,” Rigney says.

“These innovative products are examples of the way Kal Tire is working to find effective solutions so our clients can continue to operate safely and efficiently.”  

This article also appears in the November edition of Australian Mining.

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