Mining equipment | Planning for heavy equipment haulage

May 15, 2019 JOHN NINNESS

Moving mining equipment across Australia or across the world can present significant challenges from a logistics and an operational safety perspective. One Australian company has been recognised for its expertise in moving mining equipment from pit to port. They say that effective planning is a key element of successful heavy equipment haulage.

The National Group told Australasian Mine Safety that it takes a port-to-pit approach to their operations, with national and international mining equipment transport an integral part of their business.

“Our port-to-pit approach is pivotal to our success” suggests Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director. “With mining often being undertaken in remote locations which are difficult to access, we regularly face the challenge of transporting from their source to their final destination, cost-effectively, timely and safely. The complexities of transport logistics are often miss-understood and cannot be underestimated.”

Taking this port-to-pit approach, the National Group regularly delivers mining equipment nationally and internationally through in-house subsidiaries such as National Heavy Haulage (NHH) and International Global Logistics (IGL).

Planning is a key element of mining equipment moves

National Heavy Haulage (NHH), part of the National Group transports large and heavy mining equipment of any size to the remotest locations throughout Australia. A key element of planning the move is to conduct route surveys in order to adequately assess the risk and identify the scope of the project.

“We regularly conduct route surveys to ensure the safe passage of large and heavy machines with unusual dimensions” explains Ian Scott, NHH General Manager. “Route planning can help identify and map out potential hazards such as low bridges, low hanging electrical wiring or river crossings that carry weight restrictions.”

Securing loads with effectively designed load restraint mechanisms are also critical to a heavy mining equipment move. NHH say that ‘challenges are also presented in moves because of the standard restrictions of 15 tonnes per axle.’

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Combined with the complexities of permit approval, which are often required from Government authorities such as Main Road Engineers, Inter-State Police and Rail, the group must ensure any move is planned effectively to ensure on-time, incident free delivery.

mining equipment dump truck at site

 

In late 2018 NHH delivered five Ultra-Class Liebherr T 282 C Dump Trucks to BHP’s Peak Downs mine site in Central Queensland. These ‘mammoth’ mining trucks required police escort and road closures to accommodate for the immense size of vehicle components, with hauls taking place over five separate trips throughout the months of September and October 2018.

Due to immense size and weight of these vehicles, additional prime movers were attached to ensure load safety, with two truck chassis pulling and one truck pushing the load up the Eton range, with road closures and QLD Police escorts leading the way.

“The trucks are some of the largest in the world and have an empty vehicle weight of more than 260 tonnes so when you put that into perspective, they each weigh more than 130 standard cars” added Mark Ackroyd. “This is not your every-day type of haul, so to manage and deliver a haul of this size is a testament to the professionalism of our team.”

Liaison with third parties an element of mining equipment moves

NHH regularly liaises with third parties such as Ergon Energy in order to avoid high voltage, low hanging electricity wires during hauls. Due to the intense heat in the Australian summer, power lines can expand, sag and stretch, resulting in low hanging wires that pose a safety hazard. NHH, therefore, engages the use of a high wire escort that involves raising low hanging wires in order to ensure the safe passage of the load.

mining equipment load widths require careful plans

“We are always on tight schedules, with delivery often required in order to meet its next port of call” notes Ian Scott. “We regularly liaise with our sister company International Global Logistics (IGL) as equipment is often en-route to and from international locations. If we experience any type of delays, this has a knock on effect that incurs significant additional costs. We have extensive experience in the heavy haulage of equipment of any size and due to the high stakes involved with heavy haulage, it’s in everyone’s best interest to leave it to the professionals.”

moving mining equipment often requires the use of several prime movers

 

International heavy equipment moves also present challenges

International Global Logistics (IGL) is part of the National Group and provides worldwide transportation service for heavy mining equipment and larger cargo.

“IGL is a key link in the transport and logistics chain, we rely heavily on our suppliers and in turn, they rely heavily on us” suggests Dean Sterling, IGL General Manager. “There is a chain of responsibility and any weak link could sabotage the whole operation, pose a significant safety risk or cause expensive and timely delays. Therefore measures must be put into place to manage this inherent risk.”

shipping mining equipment internationally

Along with adhering to International Shipping laws, IGL also follows general standard safety procedures that are ‘controllable’, with shipment-specific strategic planning also undertaken. IGL also has to take into account natural forces that are ‘uncontrollable’ such as rising and falling tides, large and dangerous swells and extreme weather conditions such as cyclones.

“When loading large, heavy and expensive equipment onto a vessel, having a strong relationship with cargo owners, vessel captains and vessel planners is important” notes Dean Sterling.

For example, during the recent vessel loading operations of six Komatsu 830E Dump Trucks, IGL had to work with vessel owners and planners in order to lift large heavy equipment in a safe and efficient manner. Exhaustive risk management plans were set in place that involved tandem crane lifts for trucks weighing as much as 140 tonnes, with two cranes required to lift trucks in up to 90km/hour gusting winds.

mining equipment being loaded onto ship

Precision is key and timing is critical in the field of international logistics, with fines for vessel detention upwards of USD $20,000 per day when vessel delays occur.

During the development of a vessel charter plan, stages are developed in order to plan for load weights along with lifting diagrams to plan load distribution throughout the vessel. Ballast water is pumped into certain areas of the vessel. This water within the vessels water tanks is used to improve the stability and balancing of the vessel during loading and unloading operations. Uneven weight distribution could cause a vessel to list and sink, which would be catastrophic. This could have a dramatic impact on the wider community or cause disruptions to eco-systems and marine life in extreme cases such as hazardous chemical or oil spills.

“Having the timing and planning right from the get go for our port-to-pit approach is essential and this is what we strive to exceed. We make every effort to ensure things run as precise and as smooth as possible, however, there are always contingency plans in place to manage and adequately respond to forces that occur beyond our control. Operations are carried out in a proactive and not a reactive manner, with a safety first and a zero harm approach paramount” concludes Dean Sterling.

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