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Australian manufacturers collaborate for underground mine solutions

Editorial
article image SOTO SWIFTA

An evolving collaboration between two Australian companies has seen the development of a range of patented technologies designed to enhance operator safety in underground mines.

SOTO Consulting, a multi-discipline design engineering company and Leussink Engineering, a diverse and highly resourced manufacturer have collaborated to develop the SWIFTA and a Mine Tow Hitch, both designed to substantially increase underground mine safety.

According to SOTO Consulting Managing Director, Mr Frank Soto, the 100% domestic relationship lays a much higher emphasis on safety in design and manufacturing outcomes. He adds that engineers are better aware that anything designed, developed and manufactured by the SOTO-Leussink alliance will be made completely to relevant MDGs and Australian Standards. The two companies actively encourage managers and engineers from the mining sector to approach them with their challenges as it could lead to an innovative development.

The collaboration between the two Illawarra-based companies in NSW has SOTO focused in the designer role while Leussink takes on the developing and manufacturing processes.

SWIFTA, the Safe Wheel Installation Fitting Transportation Apparatus is built for safer wheel changes where miner’s interacting with LHDs is a significant safety concern. The driver of the LHD can leave the ‘parked’ vehicle, move to the hydraulic control panel on the SWIFTA, and safely operate its functions to undertake the wheel change. However, controlling the operation without any obstruction and removing men from the potential ‘crush zone’ between the LHD and a shuttle car are the main features of SWIFTA.

The Tow Hitch was developed to address the hazards miners are exposed to in underground mines when towing and moving large equipment. The Mine Tow Hitch maintains a rigid connection to increase control of movements while towing heavy equipment underground, such as shuttle cars and other rubber tyre machinery.

Developed in consultation with mine operators at Centennial Coal Myuna to allow for the controlled and efficient transport of heavy equipment from the surface to within the coal seam of the mine, Tow Hitch provides superior features to other towing devices and is rated to 50T.

Key advantages of the Mine Tow Hitch include eliminating risk of an incident caused by uncontrolled movement of the towed vehicle, reducing damage to machinery and infrastructure along the tow path; and lower manpower requirement for towing operations with an optional hydraulic steering/ braking kit utilised by the LHD driver to control these functions for a towed shuttle car.

SOTO Consulting Engineers have been delivering advanced design solutions and successful project outcomes to heavy industrial and mineral resource clients for sixteen years.

Leussink is a diversified engineering designer and high quality machine workshop capably undertaking OEM prototyping, large engineering and manufacture, on-site and off-site refurbishment and maintenance of machinery and equipment, re-engineering and high-precision work especially for mining, steel plants, public works, general engineering and heavy construction.

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