2 minute read

Coal, conveyor belts, and creativity

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Kate Lancaster
09 July 2020

AGL has a proud history of innovation – and that innovation is driven at a strategic level all the way down to the day-to-day tasks done by our people.

Around 30 km of elevated conveyor belts carry the coal from the Loy Yang Coal Mine to Loy Yang A Power Station, which provides enough power to supply more than two million Victorian homes per year. Because of the volume of fuel and the speed with which it is carried to the power station, invariably there is spillage – and the spillage collects under the belts. This can be a fire hazard, but it also makes making structural inspections of the belts and their support infrastructure considerably more difficult.

Previously the task had been done with an integrated tool carrier (ITC) – a variant of a front-end loader – and an attachment called a ’frypan’, which – according to Mine Production Supervisor Brad Greenough – was not always the most practical or effective method. Thus began the search for a better solution.

‘After a process of trial and error the operators identified what they’d need in a new tool,’ Brad said. ‘We couldn’t find exactly what we needed on the market – so we engineered our own tool and found a local manufacturer who could custom-make it.’

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‘The new tool has an extendable arm that fits neatly under the conveyor structure, and – crucially – it can be used with the nimbler tracked skid-steer, rather than the ITC.’

After the tool was delivered to the site in April, more than 500 cubic metres of spill was removed from the conveyor system in just four 12-hour shifts.

‘The spill had buried much of the conveyor frame-supporting pontoons and was encroaching on the rotating elements of the conveyor,’ Brad said.

‘Now that it’s cleared, we can better conduct structural checks of conveyor frames. The service life of belt components is boosted, as they no longer work in abrasive coal chewing out bearings/casings, and – most importantly – it’s also reduced our fire risk under operating conveyors.’