Compressor company powers up mine sites

A founder-director's love for working with his hands has done Mobile Energy Australia proud. Image: Mobile Energy Australia

Good things do come in threes. A compressor-welder-generator package has been rolled out in Australia’s own backyard to be both site-compliant and robust in harsh conditions.

Rob Pulz founded Mobile Energy based on the owner’s knack of building things. The business started 18 years ago and has steadily grown from its humble beginnings.

Mobile Energy has been putting compressors together from imported parts designed by the company for many years. 

“I saw an opportunity to build our own under-bonnet compressors for mounting onto and into service vehicles and trucks,” Rob tells Australian Mining.

That’s when his company became involved with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES). Mobile Energy put hydraulic generators and compressors on the QFES’ command vehicles at a time when Australian businesses could only do under-deck compressors.

Rob’s can-do attitude serves his company well as he was asked to develop a site-compliant larger generator and compressor for the Australian mining industry.

Mining companies are questioning the use of 60 hertz generators, which are commonly manufactured for the United States market but widely sold and used in Australia.

This results in incompatible supply power frequencies nationally, where two Queensland coal mine workers suffered from electric shocks from an engine driven welding machine last year. Its auxiliary power output was operating at a frequency of 60 Hertz instead of the mandated 50 Hertz in Australia.

“If there was an accident and somebody did get hurt by that machine, the mines could be held liable because they were not up to Australian standards,” Rob says.

“What [the mining companies] have said was, we couldn’t have them on-site because it these generators are operating on 60 Hertz.”

Mobile Energy, with the help of Rob’s overseas contacts, then developed the Smartweld 500 Air – a “very, very neat and compact welding machine” that ticks all the same boxes.

The welder-generator-air compressor is designed for Australian conditions.

 

The three-in-one unit comfortably provides sufficient output to perform arc air gouging, plenty of compressed air at a pressure of 150 PSI and flow of 65 cubic feet per minute (cfm) and with enough power remaining for other remote supply requirements.

The work station package allows operators to perform each on-site maintenance repair task easily and effectively; operators can plug their inverter welders into the Smartweld 500 Air’s electrical outlets and have them driven by the 38 kVa alternator.

“Our machine is basically based around the generator,” Rob says. “In the occasion when an inverter welder goes down – which happens more often to the welder than a generator – operators can replace the inverter welder with only a pinch of the repair cost for the whole machine.

“The flexibility allows for a replacement welder to be hired, whilst the damaged welder is sent in for repairs. So we’ve manufactured something that is a lot less expensive but has much more reliability. It’s a relatively unique piece of equipment.”

Not only that, the Smartweld 500 Air also produces a lot less noise. According to Rob, “You can stand with your elbow on the top of the cabinet having your cup of coffee while talking normally.

“What we’ve done is automate and simplify the three-in-one machine as much as we can. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to put it together.

“We have designed the machine to allow for one side servicing, so a lot of thought has gone into the design and ongoing machine maintenance. There is an added option of a breathing air outlet with carbon monoxide monitoring to comply and ensure worker safety whilst welding.”

Rob has built up an excellent engineering and manufacturing team over the years, so it is no wonder what a team of compressor professionals could do with the Smartweld 500 Air.

Mobile Energy has had feedback from expert welders who have tested the machine and testified its good performance.

This article also appears in the May 2019 edition of Australian Mining.

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