CIMIC Group’s global mining services provider, Thiess, strives to keep everyone safe everyday, empowering its team to continually explore safer ways of working. Journalist Vanessa Zhou travelled to the Mt Owen coal mine to find out more.
The practical design partnership between the Thiess Mt Owen team and Nivek tackled the weighty challenge of tooling – specifically the issues fitters had handling heavy tools for long periods in often cramped conditions.
The teams collaborated to develop the ingenious new Lift Assist 40 (LA40) tool manipulator arm.
Thiess maintenance coordinator David Crick says the LA40 arm is designed to take the weight out of a wide range of tooling, including rattle guns, impact drivers, pneumatic torque guns, air sanders and more.
With a safe working load (SWL) of up to 40 kilograms, the LA40 allows heavy tools to be suspended by the LA40 arm, relieving the strain from the operator.
“At Thiess, we’re passionate about keeping everyone safe everyday – that’s number one,” Crick says.
“The goal of the LA40 is to keep fitters’ hands safe at all times and keep fingers and hands out of crush zones – especially when loosening and tightening nuts and bolts.”
Fitter Jess Briggs works at the Mt Owen maintenance workshop and says the safety benefits of the the LA40 arm are clear.
“Previously, you’d be bolstering yourself up and pushing into something that’s vibrating back at you. It’s bad for your posture and the weight of the torque gun is substantial against your body, so the LA40 has made a big difference,” she says.
“You’re hardly doing a five-minute job – when you’re doing a series of maintenance jobs, it could be hours at a time. Holding and using heavy tools is more physically demanding. The LA40 is designed to reduce fatigue and improve productivity every shift.”
Thiess workshop trainer Adam Geosits says using the LA40 in conjunction with TED is a great solution – fitters can reach all the bolts on a D11 cutting edge only moving TED once in the process
“Jess is able to do two things at once: putting the cutting edge back on the dozer using the cutting edge cradle mounted to TED’s turntable and bolt it in place with the assistance of the LA40 arm attached to the front of TED,” Geosits says.
“The LA40 has turned cleaning dozers into a one-person job rather than two, and that’s a huge efficiency.”
Thiess’ maintenance crew were directly involved in the development of the LA40, visiting Nivek’s workshop several times throughout the design and trial process.
“Having the team from Mt Owen come to the workshop was a massive benefit. Before our products hit the market, thorough, real world trialing is an important part; we want to make sure that they don’t just look good, but that they perform reliably in workshop and field situations,” Nivek Industries marketing manager Rachel Fraser says.
“We want to make sure that they are simple to use, that they are quick to set up, that they’re not going to break down, and won’t be shelved.”
Although the arm can be mounted to any vertical surface via the four-bolt plate, its greatest ally in the field is Nivek Industries TED – Tracked Elevating Device.
When mounted to this mobile work platform, the LA40 can be used almost anywhere as TED provides greater access to confined or elevated jobs.
When it comes to practical, field-tested, durable design, the LA40 arm can prove itself every hour of every shift.
This article also appears in the Oct–Dec edition of Safe to Work.