Automation and robotics, Features, Repair and maintenance, Safety systems and solutions

Nivek’s helping hand


Nivek Industries’ lift assist arm is keeping workers safe from fatigue during maintenance. 

From autonomous haul cycles to proximity detection, the mining industry has taken strides in automating mining machinery to keep workers out of the line of fire. 

But what about the safety of the men and women who maintain those machines?

Nivek Industries has been asking that question since 2008. 

The Lift Assist 40 (LA40) is just one of the many ways the Australian-owned business is making the lives of workers safer and easier. 

The LA40 is a lift assist arm designed to take the weight of tooling up to 40kg.

“The arm can take the weight of rattle guns, impact drivers and torque tooling, reducing the risk of fatigue and musculoskeletal injuries for anyone working with heavy tools,” Nivek Industries general manager Derrick Cant told Safe to Work. 

“Using the spring-assisted arm mechanism, the LA40 holds the tool’s weight while the operator guides it into place.”

“Not only does this allow for precise work but it reduces vibrations and manual handling for workers.”

The LA40 can be mounted to Nivek’s Tracked Elevation Device. Image: Nivek Industries

Six points of articulation provide the arm with a full 360° circle of movement, with the swivel boss providing the ability to rotate tooling. Combining this with the spring-assisted 30cm of vertical movement allows operations exceptional manoeuvrability to help align tools. 

The LA40 mounting plate has been designed to allow operators to easily design a fixed attachment point, or it can be mounted to Nivek’s Tracked Elevation Device (TED). Nivek is also currently developing a mobile stand, which the company is hoping to have ready in the coming months. 

The LA40 can be fitted with custom attachments to handle different kinds of tooling, such as the hydraulic torque wrench tool.   

“The hydraulic torque wrench tool allows operators to position the tool in place and stand back during operation, therefore eliminating the risk of finger crush and/or oil injection injuries,” Cant said. “The ability for the arm to hold the tool in place greatly reduces workers suffering from fatigue, as they no longer need to hold these heavy tools during operation.

“It was created to stop people from holding these heavy hydraulic tools, particularly above their shoulders.”

Thanks to the success of the LA40, Nivek is on the cusp of releasing the LA80, an actuated arm with an 80kg lift capacity. 

“The LA80 is designed to lift heavy components into place like heavy tooling, truck brake callipers, wheel cleats, pumps – those annoying 40 or 50kg components that workers often have to lift with chains and slings into awkward positions,” Cant said.

“Since the arm is electronically controlled, there’s no bounce in the arm, which allows for stable and precise alignment of components.”

Nivek is working with a company to use an LA80 to install super-nuts on the underside of a crusher. 

“That particular LA80 will be mounted onto a fixed structure and is to be used to hold and manoeuvre the 30kg super-nuts into position during install and removal.” Cant said.  

“Ordinarily, a worker would have to lift and hold these 40kg nuts in place overhead while another person tightens them up. The LA80 makes this a one-man job, holding the nuts in place while a worker safely secures them. 

“That way they don’t have to risk an injury while lifting these heavy components.” 

In addition to reducing the risk of physical injury, the LA40 and LA80 significantly ease the physically stress of an employee’s work. This helps to limit fatigue, allowing people to work more efficiently and safely, while also promoting a more positive working environment. 

As machines get bigger and better, their maintenance requirements will evolve along with them. Fortunately, Nivek Industries has its finger on the pulse, engineering best-practice safety solutions for maintenance in the mining industry. 

This feature also appears in theMarch-April issue of Safe to Work.

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