Two wagon maintenance employees recently travelled to Ipswich in Queensland to celebrate the making of the 4000th Rio Tinto Iron Ore (RTIO) ore car by freight rail specialist Bradken.
Brett Napier and Ashley Williamson, both mechanical fitters, were chosen to represent RTIO at a large function which included speeches by Bradken representatives, the Ipswich mayor and Rail general manager Richard Cohen.
Their four-day trip also included tours of Bradken’s Runcorn and Ipswich operations and meetings with Bradken sales managers and representatives.
Brett said other highlights of the trip included witnessing a casting pour, watching moulds being made for ore car components and viewing a computer-generated program on the flows of metal through a draft gear yolk.
“At the Ipswich factory they do casting pours similar to Runcorn, but on a smaller scale. This is where they build the ore cars, which includes cutting the components out of flat sheet, bending it up and then welding it all together — sometimes using robotic welding machines,” he said.
“We got within 15 metres of a casting pour, which was very impressive.”
Ashley said both he and Brett gained a lot from seeing the Bradken operations first-hand and being able to speak directly with company representatives.
“Foundries are such a specialised trade and being able to visit one helped us get a better understanding of what they do,” he said.
“It was also a great opportunity to discuss the ore cars in-depth with the manufacturers and go over any problems and potential solutions in relation to the product they are selling us.”
While both Ashley and Brett had a lot of positive feedback about their “official visit” at Bradken, both men listed flying business class as one of the main highlights of the trip.
This article was first published in Coastal News [September 2007, Issue No. 3] – Rio Tinto’s Coastal Division Newsletter.