Geographe’s asset optimisation team delivers a safer solution to commonly seized Komatsu haul truck rear strut pins as part of their elimination of hot works and thermal lancing project.
In 1994, Geographe created its dedicated Enhanced Performance (EP) product line to provide the mining industry with improved and, in some cases, completely redesigned components. Here, the company offered miners a solution to problematic components.
Geographe’s EP product range is underpinned by the understanding that the one-size-fits-all approach does not work in the mining sector due to varying commodity types affecting equipment differently.
“What we see as a significant issue in iron ore may not translate to a machine operating in coal,” Geographe sales manager Matt McDonald told Australian Mining. “Machines have vastly different requirements due to the environment they work in. We consider this in all developments and actively engage our customers to help with the commercial viability of a product.”
Geographe’s brand has grown to include Specialised Tooling to aid in the installation and removal of components, as well as a fourth extension called Geographe Asset Optimisation.
Asset Optimisation employs a holistic approach to the entire maintenance practice, where users will often utilise a range of EP products and Specialised Tooling to achieve the outcome.
“In this approach, we work back from the customer’s safe work procedure, and in most cases attend a mine site to watch the maintenance task take place,” McDonald said. “This allows us to first understand what should occur, followed by what actually occurs. In a perfect world, there should be no variance in the two, but sometimes this isn’t the case.
“Being on-site allows us to solicit comment from the front-line workers and allows us to accommodate, where possible, their thoughts and ideas. We’ve found that discussions like these often lead us to the best user-friendly outcomes, whilst still aligning with the organisation’s HSE codes and practices.
“Collaborative relationships led us to identify the elephant in the room of hot works and thermal lancing: a high-risk practice that has been used over many years and widely accepted as a common maintenance practice to remove seized or stuck components.”
The Geographe Asset Optimisation team commenced the elimination of hot works and thermal lancing projects in 2019, engaging miners across Australia with the aim to understand problems and the appetite for change.
“It didn’t take long for our first project to kick off, where a large iron ore miner reached out to us to say that they were having trouble with the rear suspension pins and sway bars becoming seized on their Komatsu 830e fleet,” McDonald said. “In this instance, when thermal lancing is used, a single boilermaker can take five-to-eight hours to remove the two pins required to disconnect one rear suspension cylinder. This process can lead to prolonged downtime and subsequent decreases in productivity.”
In response, Geographe manufactured a specific Collated Pin Assembly (CPA).
The CPA eliminates the need for thermal lancing by addressing the root cause of seizure by incorporating a tapered collet system to create a self-wedging effect between the pin and frame bores. This fundamentally changes how the component is retained in position, supporting an in-built removal method that removes pin seizures and the risk of thermal lancing from the maintenance task.
The CPAs were successfully trialled in a truck on a mine for over 12,000 hours.
“We looked to optimise the product a little further,” McDonald said. “In our first installation, we found areas for improvement so we made some changes to create the installation and removal tooling kit to suit the Komatsu 830e haul trucks. We are now rolling this out across multiple mine sites and working on several other developments for larger haul trucks.
“These types of products are what allow us to have business sustainability in the market. It’s what we’re good at and it’s what we’re designed to do.
“It’s why we all come to work; no one just wants to recreate the same thing day in, and day out. We want to innovate, and we want to make things better.
This commitment to innovation, according to innovation project manager Ryan Hyder, shows Geographe is a solution-based company.
“We want to be in relationships with our customers that allow us to produce a product that solution-based, solving safety and productivity issues,” Hyder told Australian Mining. “Creating a safer environment for people to work in.”
This feature appeared in the July 2023 issue of Australian Mining.