Mining’s safest power tool partner

power tool

A proven safety performer, Metabo’s angle grinders have become increasingly popular in the mining industry. Now the company is releasing a new product for the sector.

Angle grinders are a widely used power tool in the mining industry, but they can also be dangerous if the right safety precautions are not taken.

Founded in Germany in 1923, Metabo has become a trusted partner of the mining sector over the years, maximising power tool safety and reducing injury as a result.

Metabo’s angle grinders are a key offering to the market, with the company’s WEPBA 17-125 Quick safety grinder supporting many different mining applications.

The grinder includes a Marathon motor, fast brake system, a paddle switch and an auto balancer providing up to 50 per cent less vibration which culminates in a more robust, durable tool with longer disc life.

First and foremost, it’s the WEPBA 17-125 Quick’s safety attributes that make it so popular in mining.

“The paddle switch has a dead-man function,” Metabo Australia product manager Tony Brown told Safe to Work. “The brake system comprises a mechanical disc brake that stops the disc within two seconds after switching off.

“(The WEPBA 17-125 Quick’s) mechanical clutch is another important safety feature … if something is being cut and the disc jams, the clutch disengages the motor from the gears which stops the cutting disc from turning, preventing it from breaking, and shattering into people’s faces.”

The WEPBA 17-125 Quick’s safety clutch prevents dangerous kickback.

 

Mining companies are required to adhere to the utmost safety standards to ensure they are operating above board. Given hand injuries are one of the sector’s most prevalent safety concerns, this is heightened ten-fold.

Metabo Australia managing director Aaron Jamieson told Safe to Work that the WEPBA 17-125 Quick’s safety compliance is what makes it stand apart.

“What we see with mining – or the engineering industry that supports mining – is it has created a specification requirement that, in many cases, mimics the description of our product,” he said.

“In some cases, the specification suggests that certain safety features are required and the WEPBA 17-125 Quick has all of that. 

“Safety officers on mine sites have obligations and once they know of a tool that has an additional safety element, that’s the one to go for because it is safer than the one before.”

Maintenance teams could use an angle grinder to repair draglines or buckets on mining machinery – heavy activities which necessitate the strongest tool possible.

With 1700 watts of power, the WEPBA 17-125 Quick packs the punch of a large grinder and has a compact frame for ease of handling and manoeuvrability.

To be able to complement safety with muscle and durability is another key selling point for the WEPBA 17-125 Quick.

With patented dust protection, the Metabo Marathon motor provides up to 20 per cent more overload capacity and 50 per cent more torque than other angle grinders of similar capacity.

“It’s not just about being safe that’s critical. The environments miners are working in are tough and the grinder needs to be built tough to handle that,” Jamieson said.

“Running continuous shifts across multiple days, the tool gets used hour after hour after hour. They don’t get any downtime so to speak as it might be passed onto a different operator, so they have to be well constructed.”

For such a compact tool to be able to operate for extended periods of time is testament to its smart construction and Metabo’s eye for efficiency. This is boosted by the auto-balance feature which reduces the risks of vibration injury and saves a lot of money in cutting and grinding discs in the long run.

“The machine’s auto balancer enables discs to last longer,” Brown said. “So that saves the business money on how often the disc needs to be changed – they wear better when they’re balanced.

“Like with a car. Tires are balanced so they wear evenly which means they last longer. Same with a disc on the grinder. If the disc is balanced, it’s going to wear more evenly and it’s going to last longer.”

The WEPBA 17-125 Quick’s auto balancer provides up to 50 per cent less vibration.

 

While the WEPBA 17-125 Quick is a powerful tool for its size, Brown hinted the next evolution of the grinder would up the wattage even more and come with new technology to enhance the durability of its brushes. This is set to be released in the second half of the year.

While angle grinders are central to Metabo’s mining offering, the company has launched a new heavy duty 18 Volt impact wrench which will be its first high torque wrench for the sector.

Wrenches are used to remove nuts from all kinds of mining machinery, whether it be a haul truck, earthmoving equipment, or anything in between, and while the 18 Volt impact wrench will be the first solution of its kind for Metabo, it has all the makings of a quality product.

“In mining applications, there’s a lot of corrosion and nuts and bolts can really seize up, so you need a lot of power to loosen them,” Brown said. “The wrench has the highest nut-busting torque on the market for that type of tool – 2100 newton metres.”

The wrench is cordless and has an automatic power shift (APS) function which enhances the safety of the product.

“If you hit something with a lot of force and it suddenly breaks away, you could have flying nuts all over the place. Our machine has a built-in feature so that as soon as it’s loosened, it slows down and the nut stays within the socket,” Brown said.

“Without a lead or hose, you remove the tripping hazard and it’s more portable which is practical in mining applications. If you move from site to site to site, you may not have access to power or compressed air, so the 18V tool is very handy.”

As a German company, Metabo is steeped in strong manufacturing roots, giving it the added upside of heritage.

“There is something to be said for German manufacturing over other countries and people understand that,” Brown said. “When it comes to all manner of things, the German manufacture is generally a higher quality. 

“We manufacture a large number of our products in our Nürtingen factory. In the case of our WEPBA 17-125 Quick, we make our own motors, all the aluminium gear housings, the plastic mouldings… just about everything bar a few components are manufactured in our factory.”

Whether it’s Metabo’s angle grinders, wrenches or other power tools suitable to the mining sector, the company is an industry leader when it comes to product quality and safety.

And as Metabo continues to incorporate new technologies and advancements into its products, it’s becoming a research and development (R&D) powerhouse as well. 

This feature appeared in the May issue of Safe to Work.

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