Big bucket wheel reclaimer saves time

WITH the help of a lifting solutions company engineers at ThyssenKrupp reduced the assembly time of building an urgently needed big bucket wheel reclaimer. *Rod Lindblade writes

With the help of a lifting solutions company engineers at ThyssenKrupp reduced the assembly time of building an urgently needed big bucket wheel reclaimer. *Rod Lindblade writes

Increasing the capacity of Australia’s big coal shipping ports is vital – sighting the huge queues of ships waiting weeks and weeks to load is totally unacceptable to many people and does not reflect the ability of innovative, energetic, ‘can do’ Australians to get things done — on time.

However, an interesting example of Australian ingenuity and getting things done on time recently emerged at the Hay Point Coal Terminal, 30 km south of Mackay on the central Queensland coast.

“It was a procedure that reduced the assembly time of an urgently needed big bucket wheel reclaimer and a procedure that saved significant construction time and dollars,” said Jim Carr, general manager business development and customer solutions at Boom Logistics when initially discussing the project with Australian Mining.

The engineers a ThyssenKrupp, the company selected to design and build the new reclaimer, believed a better and faster way could be found to build the main boom, finish it by adding all components and then attaching the boom to the Stacker / Reclaimer in the completed state.

Having developed a revised way of assembling their new machine, ThyssenKrupp engineers then called in Boom Logistics Heavy Haulage Division to see if their idea could be made to work, and if Boom had the unique equipment required for this procedure.

“Previously, with this sort of project, the building process would involve the 60 m long boom being progressively assembled after attaching the base unit of the boom to the machine,” explained Peter Chapman of ThyssenKrupp.

The alternative process that the ThyssenKrupp engineers visualised was one of building the boom of the reclaimer at ground level and, when more-or-less completed, moving it close to the machine and then lifting it up and into position for attaching to the slewing deck.

“We chose to discuss the process with the heavy haulage experts at Boom Logistics,” said Chapman.

“They were able to confirm that the proposed process could be carried out and, importantly, they had the equipment to do the job,” he added.

“The process was a push, pull, carry and lift process,” said Darren Jones of Mackay depot of Boom Logistics’ Heavy Haulage Division.

“The 205 tonne boom of the reclaimer was sitting on stools at a height, just over 2.4 m above ground.

“As can be seen in the accompanying photo, we located our low profile prime mover and float under the far end of the boom, and we could do that as the prime mover, adapted from a CLR Mack chassis and powered by a 210 hp engine, is only 1.2 m in overall height.

“Then, with a lift mechanism on our float we were able to lift the reclaimer’s boom up off the stands with the 125 tonne weight of that end of the boom then carried by the float,” explained Darren.

The crew were then able to bring in the big full size 550 hp Mack Titan prime mover with a specially engineered front mounted drawbar and connect it to the float.

With the other end of the reclaimer’s boom to be lifted by a Manitowoc 200 tonne ringer crane, all was ready was ready for the lift and shift.

First, the end of the boom to be lifted by the ringer crane was raised 12 m, being the final height for attaching to the slew deck before the moving process commenced.

The crane, with the load suspended, was in free slew mode, so the reclaimer boom could be moved forward towards the machine.

“With ringer crane holding up the reclaimer’s boom, as well as slewing its own boom and the low profile prime mover — aided by the push from the big Mack — we were able to move forward 1 m at a time.

“Then, as we neared the machine, extreme care was exercised. The reclaimer’s boom was inched into position for attaching to the mounting point. Absolute precision was required in order to insert the 180 kg pins through the bearings in the boom,” added Darren.

With this process, using Boom’s heavy haulage equipment and crew, ThyssenKrupp were able to make considerable savings and more importantly, reduce the risk of working at height, when compared with the earlier technique of fitting out the reclaimer boom when it was located ‘up in the air’ nearer its working position and attached to the machine.

First saving was the need for only one large crane, in lieu of two.

Second saving was eliminating many working at height issues.

And third saving was completing the job in far shorter time – about six weeks shorter.

That translates to far less waiting time for the huge fleet of coal carrying ships anchored off Hay Point, all at a huge cost.

Australians are ‘can do’ people, as has been seen many times in the resources sector.

Just let them get on with the job.

*Written by Rod Lindblade for Boom Logistics Ltd. For more information, call Rod at Northfield Communications – Business-to-Business advertising and journalism on 03 9681 9585, or email

Key contact:

Jim Carr

Boom Logistics

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