Lifting made safer in the mining industry

Image: MHE-Demag

MHE-Demag Australia has been involved in the design, planning, manufacturing, installation, troubleshooting and service of a range of material handling systems and equipment for more than 50 years.

The company’s managing director Vince Di Costanzo said innovation was one of the key strengths MHE-Demag brought to the mining industry.

“We deliver material handling equipment with the latest control technology, including integration with existing equipment and semi automation solutions,” he told Australian Mining.

Di Constanzo added that MHE-Demag also installed new control technologies on older mechanical systems to increase their efficiency.

Cranes are one of the major material handling products the company manufactures and Di Costanzo said one of the key trends was making these cranes lighter and more efficient.

“The world is changing with technology. It happens to all the industries, including the material handling sector,” he said.

“One of the upcoming trends is delivering cranes with reduced size and deadweight for the same lifting capacity, allowing customers to reduce the costs of supporting structures and associated maintenance for dragging unnecessary dead loads around.”

The company specialises in refurbishing existing material handling equipment to boost efficiency.

Di Costanzo said on top of new cranes, there was an increasing demand for the refurbishment of existing cranes to help operators save costs.

Amid the mining downturn, Di Costanzo added that MHE-Demag, like many others in the industry, felt the effect of reduced capital.  He said the company was able to restore equipment at reduced costs and return it to as good, or even better, condition – further minimising operating costs.

However, over the last six months, Di Costanzo observed a slight upturn in the mining industry which had lifted demand for the company’s cranes.

“We are seeing the increased requests for equipment sales and service, and a particularly significant increment in requests to refurbish older existing equipment,” he said.

Explosion proof range

With the improving optimism in the mining industry, the company is expanding its product range for Australia.

Di Constanzo said it was continuing to introduce a wider product range, particularly of explosion-proof material handling equipment.

He added that the mining, oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical industries are known to be explosive environments and it is important that workers in these environments adopt explosion-proof equipment to ensure their safety.

“Sparks in industrial environments can lead to explosions and these can be caused by the malfunction of material handling components, such as a short circuit in the electrical boxes or gearboxes, or friction between steel parts,” Di Costanzo said.

“Defective or poorly designed machines such as cranes and hoists can create sparks through friction or from being overloaded.

“An overloaded crane can also potentially break its lattice boom, hook or hoist boom, creating a spark that can ignite an explosion and endanger workers.”

To decrease the risk of a sparks and to prevent blasts, equipment used in industrial environments need to be certified as explosion-proof.

MHE-Demag equipment is ATEX (Atmosphères Explosibles) and IECEx (International Electrotechnical Commission) certified to reduce the risk of explosions and the impacts caused by explosions.

The company’s explosion protected products include cranes, hoists and other lifting equipment, as well fully integrated custom panels, electrical control panels, circuit breaker panels, plugs and receptacles, terminal boxes, cameras, human machine interface (HMI), horns and strobes and helidecks.

The explosion-proof cranes minimise the risk of overloading and materials falling through their two-speed control via inverter control for trolley and bridge motion, allowing smooth and precise operations.

The MHE-Demag series of hoists are available for capacities between 1.6 tonnes and 20 tonnes with standard or low headroom designs, and up to 100 tonnes as a foot-mounted hoist. The explosion-proof winch series covers heavy lifting capacities up to 180 tonnes and the explosion-proof air hoists offer lifting capacities from 125kg for general workshops to 100 tonnes for offshore applications.

The company’s explosion proof portfolio is also flame proof for increased safety.

Crane safety on site

Di Costanzo said it was imperative that cranes are used on site to improve worker safety.

“Many processes in the mining industry place workers at risk in hazardous environments,” he said.

“The use of cranes to reduce these risks is becoming more frequent, for instance, to reduce personal safety risks, such as back injuries from repetitive lifting.”

He said the Demag KBK Systems & Jib Cranes minimised operator fatigue with semi-automation of particular cranes in some repeating processes.

Maintenance and servicing are also important for ensuring safety on site and Demag’s latest Engineered Service program is able to conduct a rigorous assessment of the condition and application of equipment.

The program is comprised of a customised service plan that satisfies both OEM requirements and the Australian standards without relying on “cookie-cutter” templates that may inflate service costs of customer’s equipment.

“We define a Maintenance Agreement scope based on a consultation process that is risk mitigated by configuring it in relation to actual usage and duty cycle, location, installation and operating environment, as well as OEM requirements, Australian standards and applicable legislation,” Di Costanzo said.

The program also provides transparency in all aspects of the program delivery, from detailed quotations and invoices to cost-of-maintenance at the equipment level.

It provides real-time reporting and will soon include real-time predictive maintenance tools that will further reduce unexpected and unplanned repairs and associated downtime.

In addition, the company’s consultative risk mitigation assessment of routine inspection plans; the quality and scope of its reporting tools; and the fully consultative review it delivers to customers after each service visit; highlights all safety issues identified during the service – helping operators monitor the health of their equipment.

Where to next?

Di Costanzo called 2017 a good year for MHE-Demag. It is currently supplying its products and services to projects in the manufacturing and handling of aluminium, which Di Costanzo said was “very encouraging” given the recent downturn.

“Many of these projects are to do with refurbishment of installed equipment, which provides a better return by having only the refurbishment cost to recover, rather than the complete replacement costs,” he said.

Di Costanzo added that the company is focusing on expanding its product range which he believed would create a more “vibrant business environment” over the coming years.

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

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