The Hunter Valley coal mining region in New South Wales hasn’t seen a technology that can salvage severely damaged tyres like Kal Tire’s Ultra Repair before.
Every year, mining companies in the Hunter Valley send hundreds of ultra-class tyres with large injuries to the scrap pile.
Some of these tyres cost mining companies more than $50,000 to purchase and have been discarded before they have even reached 1000 operating hours.
Kal Tire’s Muswellbrook facility in NSW, along with its Australian counterpart in Perth, Western Australia, has extensive experience completing standard tyre repairs using conventional methods.
It has added to this capability by becoming a leading practitioner of Kal Tire’s exclusive Ultra Repair service, joining more than a dozen other centres operated by the Canadian company around the world.
Kal Tire’s technicians at Muswellbrook can repair tyre injuries with Ultra Repair that were once thought impossible to fix, potentially saving miners thousands of dollars by returning them to mine sites.
After many years of research and development in Canada during the 2000s, Ultra Repair was officially launched in 2014, and Kal Tire wasted little time preparing the service for the Australian market.
“For our customers, what to do with scrap piles of ultra-class tyres has been a major expensive concern, for a long time,” Kal Tire’s vice president, tyre lifetime services Darren Flint said
“We’re educating customers ‘now you can send a 63-inch dump truck tyre with large injuries almost anywhere on the tyre, including damaged cables that previously were deemed irreparable, back into production at its maximum performance rather than sending it to the scrap pile.’”
So how was Ultra Repair developed and how can it potentially save miners thousands of dollars per tyre?
The Ultra Repair technology was 15 years in the making for Kal Tire after the company recognised the limitations of traditional earthmover tyre repairs at the start of the century.
Traditional patches risked bulging, lasted just a short time and only suited smaller injuries and certain locations on the tyre.
Therefore, Kal Tire started researching a process that could solve the expensive tyre management issue for mining companies.
The aim of the research was to develop a solution that saved tyres from scrap piles by restoring them to their original strength and integrity, providing like-new performance, even in the harshest mining conditions like what we find in Australia.
After several years of research, the outcome was Ultra Repair, which uses an exclusive, proprietary patch to replace damaged tyre cables, as well as a unique installation technology to extend their life, possibly by thousands of hours.
Unlike traditional section repairs, the Ultra Repair process can be used to repair large injuries, from 25-inch tyres up to and including the largest 63-inch tyres.
Ultra Repair is also effective on damage across the tyre, including injuries that are on the shoulder or sidewall.
In the last twelve months, Kal Tire has repaired close to 500 ultra-class tyres at its facilities around the world using Ultra Repair and is ready to add to this total in the Australian market.
However, there are several requirements based on the Australian Standard for tyre management that mining companies must consider before they can engage Kal Tire for the service.
The injuries that Ultra Repair typically repairs are larger than what is permitted to be repaired per the Australian Standard for tyre repairs on heavy machinery.
According to the Australian Standard, the maximum size of tyre injuries that can be repaired in the tread or crown are those up to 85mm, or in the side wall up to 70mm, and put back into operation using traditional methods.
For larger injuries, like what Ultra Repair has been designed for but outside the Australian Standard, Kal Tire must undertake a risk assessment before they can commit to repairing the injury with the Ultra Repair technology.
Kal Tire Muswellbook repair supervisor Danny Parris explained: “The Australian Standard explains that we can conduct repairs outside of the set dimensions only with a risk assessment. Major mining companies interested in using Ultra Repair have also requested Kal Tire supply a more in-depth risk assessment.
“That means the mining company has to sign off on the risk assessment before we can repair their tyres with the Ultra Repair technology.
Kal Tire worked with an independent specialist and leading mining companies to develop an independent risk assessment to work within the Standard. This ensured they covered all aspects of the process with health and safety being the primary objective.
Due to the requirements of the Australian Standard, Kal Tire is committed to working closely with mining clients in the Hunter Valley to build their understanding of the process and how they can benefit from using it.
Kal Tire Australia sales and marketing head Jason Zafiriadis said the Hunter Valley mining industry had not previously seen tyres being repaired outside of the Australian Standard, making the company’s education around Ultra Repair and its value vital.
“We have done more than 500 of these globally in the last 12 months and the successes and data from these have helped to demonstrate the rigour and quality of our process,” Zafiriadis said.
“When you step into a new frontier like the Hunter Valley there has got to be a lot of engagement with customers and reference to detailed risk assessments to demonstrate and satisfy everyone’s requirements.”
How Ultra Repair works
Mining tyres are exposed to a series of stresses on haul roads and in pits that can lead to damage during their operational life.
The stress caused can result in injuries of varying sizes to key parts of the tyre, including the tread, shoulder and sidewall, leaving internal elements like body plies or cords destroyed and no longer suitable for mining activities.
Manufactured by Kal Tire in multiple sizes and with a unique form, the Ultra Repair patches suit a wide range of large injuries across all parts of the tyre.
The patches are manufactured using steel and Aramid fibres, which are commonly found in ballistic-rated composites, and are tailored to match viable injuries.
Kal Tire has developed three Ultra Repair patches – a steel section patch, a section patch and a crown patch – for a range of different repairs and placement on different parts of the tyre.
The Ultra Repair process begins with a comprehensive inspection being undertaken by Kal Tire technicians.
First, technicians identify the scope of injuries and assess the damaged areas before preparing the tyre for optimum patch installation.
After exposing and assessing the injury on a 63-inch tyre, for example, technicians determine the patch size and compound needed.
Ultra Repair patches are constructed with steel cables and a specific rubber compound to match those of the tyre being repaired.
Once the Ultra Repair patch is installed, the original area is vulcanised, trimmed to specifications, quality-checked against the Ultra Repair standard and then released for service.
The tyre is now basically rebuilt to restore the tyre’s strength, integrity and performance. Tyres that were thought to be destined for the scrap pile after just 1000 operating hours may even end up having a fully realised life of 5000 hours or more.
This article also appears in the February edition of Australian Mining.