Australian manufacturers collaborate for underground mine solutions

An evolving collaboration between two Australian companies has seen the
development of a range of patented technologies designed to enhance operator
safety in underground mines.

SOTO Consulting, a multi-discipline design engineering company and
Leussink Engineering, a diverse and highly resourced manufacturer have
collaborated to develop the SWIFTA and a Mine Tow Hitch, both designed to
substantially increase underground mine safety.

According to SOTO Consulting Managing Director, Mr Frank Soto, the 100%
domestic relationship lays a much higher emphasis on safety in design and
manufacturing outcomes. He adds that engineers are better aware that anything
designed, developed and manufactured by the SOTO-Leussink alliance will be made
completely to relevant MDGs and Australian Standards. The two companies actively
encourage managers and engineers from the mining sector to approach them with
their challenges as it could lead to an innovative development.

The collaboration between the two Illawarra-based companies in NSW has
SOTO focused in the designer role while Leussink takes on the developing and
manufacturing processes.

SWIFTA, the Safe Wheel Installation Fitting Transportation Apparatus is
built for safer wheel changes where miner’s interacting with LHDs is a
significant safety concern. The driver of the LHD can leave the ‘parked’
vehicle, move to the hydraulic control panel on the SWIFTA, and safely operate
its functions to undertake the wheel change. However, controlling the operation
without any obstruction and removing men from the potential ‘crush zone’
between the LHD and a shuttle car are the main features of SWIFTA.

The Tow Hitch was developed to address the hazards miners are exposed to
in underground mines when towing and moving large equipment. The Mine Tow Hitch
maintains a rigid connection to increase control of movements while towing
heavy equipment underground, such as shuttle cars and other rubber tyre

Developed in consultation with mine operators at Centennial Coal Myuna
to allow for the controlled and efficient transport of heavy equipment from the
surface to within the coal seam of the mine, Tow Hitch provides superior
features to other towing devices and is rated to 50T.

Key advantages of the Mine Tow Hitch include eliminating risk of an
incident caused by uncontrolled movement of the towed vehicle, reducing damage
to machinery and infrastructure along the tow path; and lower manpower
requirement for towing operations with an optional hydraulic steering/ braking
kit utilised by the LHD driver to control these functions for a towed shuttle

SOTO Consulting Engineers have been delivering advanced design solutions
and successful project outcomes to heavy industrial and mineral resource
clients for sixteen years.

Leussink is a diversified engineering designer and high quality machine
workshop capably undertaking OEM prototyping, large engineering and
manufacture, on-site and off-site refurbishment and maintenance of machinery
and equipment, re-engineering and high-precision work especially for mining,
steel plants, public works, general engineering and heavy construction.

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