Across the mining industry, there have been many incidents, injuries and even fatalities when people handle heavy vehicle earth moving tyres.
With tyre assemblies weighing up to 15 tonnes , the team at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Saraji Mine looked at ways to reduce the potential exposure and risk to tyre fitters when working in and around tyres.
Jarrod Layton, Superintendent Mods & Ops Projects in the Saraji Engineering team, said that prior to a recent tyre replacement, a commitment was made to the site leadership team to challenge the existing mindset around tyre handlers for heavy earth moving equipment.
"A key part of this project was changing our way of thinking around tyre handling. We spent a lot of time engaging our teams and looking for opportunities to increase not only the safety and productivity of our processes, but also the culture that surrounds these types of activities," Jarrod said.
The team investigated a range of options and consulted the market, where they found Hedweld's TH 15000 Tyre Handler - a device which removes tyre fitters from the direct line of fire and safely secures the tyre in place during changes. The device also features a jib arm to support the weight of the rattle gun that is required to remove the wheel nuts.
Using Bluetooth technology, the device is remote controlled to give the operator improved visibility when aligning the device with the tyre and removes the need for any manual handling of the product.
"As the size of mining equipment grows, traditional methods for handling tyres becomes more hazardous and time consuming," Jarrod said.
"Traditionally, tyres are moved by equipment such as loaders and forklifts and requires at least two fitters to operate. These items however, have limitations due to their size, maneuverability and safety. A number of incidents occur within the mining industry every year involving tyre handling.”
The device also allows all bays in the workshop to be better ultilised as well as reducing the number of people required for tyre handling. In turn, this allows for a higher availability of the wheeled tyre fleets.
"While the safety and productivity benefits are clear, the cultural change has also been fantastic to see. The workforce can see that we're investing in making their jobs safer and easier to do every day - they see that we're willing to invest and try new equipment and train them in order to deliver safer results."