Nivek Industries’ Tracked Elevating Device (TED) – a remote-controlled, battery-powered, all-terrain, multi-purpose machine – has made a positive impact at the Hunter Valley Operations (HVO) in New South Wales.
HVO maintenance supervisor Paul Bullock has been so impressed since the first TED was purchased in 2014 that a second was delivered in 2016.
A third machine is also awaiting procurement approval for delivery to the coal operations next year.
HVO operates a fleet of 34 dozers, over 100 Komatsu 830 dump trucks and many other ancillary mine site vehicles to make a total fleet of 180.
This means HVO’s mobile plant workshop usually has several dozers in at any one time, and the truck workshop sometimes twice as many.
Two of the key issues constantly on the improvement ‘radar screen’ for HVO relating to workshops, as well as worksites, are raising productivity and improving safety.
By way of example, a traditional procedure to remove/replace a belly plate on a dozer means the mechanic crawls underneath the giant machine to line up the bolt holes by loosening the plates, which can weigh hundreds of kilos – often even more with accumulated debris. This makes it a tricky job and one fraught with physical danger.
Bullock believes TED provides part of the solution for both the safety and productivity problems at HVO.
“On a simple belly guard removal in the shop it saves approximately 25 per cent of job time. But it’s out in the field that TED really comes into his own, possibly saving up to four shifts of down time,” he said.
Bullock said he witnessed TED undertaking a difficult task where the pushing force previously had to be physically generated by a maintainer.
“They have made a massive difference to our day-to-day operations. In addition, many machines in the pit that would normally have been down for multiple shifts have been dealt with in a timely, safe manner,” Bullock said.
“With TED saving up to 25 per cent of time on the ground, maintenance teams can focus on more projects at once, as well as having a faster turnaround time and thus increasing production.”
When asked what he thought was TED’s main safety contribution, Bullock said: “Removing one man from the ‘line of fire’ whilst removing/replacing belly guards is the obvious answer, but the air operated jacks are physically demanding and TED has dramatically improved this.”
Bullock is looking forward to delivery of the third TED. He said the main motivation for getting the second TED was because when the first unit was away or out of service HVO had to revert to using the pneumatic units, which highlighted the need to have more TEDs available.
“I’m just waiting on approval for TED three next year, which would eliminate the pneumatic units completely,” he explained.
TED is useful during removing/replacing of belly guards on machines in the field, a task which is often undertaken using hooker rod, slings and cumalong – a manual handling exercise.
The machine is eliminating the human element from this critical lift stage underneath equipment, thanks to its remote control, which significantly decreases the risk of injury.
TED can travel across any terrain and can lift up to 800kg. It features a 360-degree turntable on the top, which makes lining up belly plates and ball joints safer, quicker and easier than the conventional methods using slings and chain block.
The machine can also be used for equaliser bars, cutting edges, steering cylinders, load rollers, sound suppression equipment, engine sumps and many other applications.
It is designed and manufactured in Australia and built to withstand the harsh environments that heavy equipment often works in.
Each machine comes with total compliance to Australian and New Zealand mining standards (ASNZ 4240).
A range of attachments is offered with TED, including a specialised trailer that can easily carry the machine, along with multiple tools, spares and hoses to any break down site or remote workshop.