Loram assists in keeping mining on track

Loram's undercutting takes inspiration from the mining industry.

Rail’s role in the Australian mining industry remains crucial in connecting the ore, coal and other materials mined in the country to the rest of the world. Australian Mining speaks to Loram about its growing link to the industry in the country.

Loram is three months into the acquisition of Aurizon’s rail grinding business, adding to its existing operation.  The Brisbane-based organisation, with a United States parent company, has gained a strong team in Aurizon’s 77 talented staff members through the acquisition. 

The Loram team has been working to deliver a frictionless transition to and sustain longstanding relationships and contracts with the likes of ARTC, Aurizon, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group, putting the company in the midst of Australian freight and mining railways. 

Rail is a vital asset investment. With Australian railway lines hauling some of the heaviest loads in the world, frequent and quality maintenance interventions are essential to optimise the life of the rail, according to Loram director of business development Tom Smith.

“Rail grinding is the cornerstone of virtually every heavy haul railroad maintenance program,” Smith tells Australian Mining.

“Loram uses industry leading technology to help maximise the life and value of rail assets with precision removal of fatigued metal, restoration of the rail head profile and removal of rail defects.   

“Loram brings in the industry’s highest production equipment with the crews that complete the work efficiently to get the trains back running as soon as possible – because minutes of track time matter.”

While best known for rail grinding, Loram offers far more, bringing a portfolio of proven equipment and services to Australia. 

Another product line Loram is promoting for its Australian operations is its friction management systems, Top of Rail and Gauge Face, to counter the major expense of fuel locomotives.

“By strategically applying friction modifiers to the top of the rail, our customers are able to reduce the resistance to help pull the load more efficiently and saving fuel,” Smith explains.

Wheel and rail interaction is directly addressed by the grinding for the rail profile, supplementing the proper profile to optimise rail and wheel life is gauge face lubrication in curves. 

Another product that offers efficiency is the Loram WagonVac.  The mines have a cost to ship its product to the port, there is no benefit to ship any part of the payload back to the mine. 

Often in the dumping process there is a residual amount of product left in the wagons, one to two tonnes per wagon is not unusual.  The WagonVac vacuum system sucks out that residual material in the wagons to leave at the port and put it on a ship.     

“While one to two tonnes may not sound like a lot, when you have 200-plus wagons in a unit and potentially 30-plus trains per 24-hours, the tonnes quickly add up,” Smith says.

Loram also has a range of ballast equipment but will highlight the full section ballast cleaner, designed with patented, state-of-the-art undercutting digging wheels that provide self-supporting cut-in capabilities.

“Ballast degrades over time, becomes fouled, reducing drainage,” Smith explains. 

“Undercutting is continuous excavation of the material below the sleepers to either fully waste, or to screen returning the desired ballast and removing the fines.

“Loram looked to the mining industry to learn about digging more efficiently when it created its undercutter design – again track time for machines is taking away from trains, productivity is key.”

Loram is bringing a solutions mindset to Australia, with a focus on forming partnership-like relationships with the rail divisions of the mining customers to make them successful in their maintenance investments. The company is optimistic about the opportunities ahead as its Australian market position expands.

“It’s an exciting time for Loram to be here, the future is bright, and we are here in Australia for the long-term,” Smith concludes.

This article also appears in the March issue of Australian Mining.

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