With locations all around the world, Austin Engineering Limited could have chosen any of its multiple workshops to install a new robotic welding system but in the end went for its Perth facilities.


The new system, manufactured in Germany by Cloos, was installed by Perth-based R&E Engineering and consists of two of the most advanced robotic welding arms with integrated state-of-the-art welding technology, according to Austin Engineering Operations Manager Geoff Collins.


“It has a working space of 20m by 10m capable of delivering up to four times the welding speed as compared to manual/ semi-automatic welding processes,” Mr Collins said.


“The sensors are capable of correcting the slightest positional and geometrical movement to a set tolerance and the operator can adjust the parameters automatically during welding to produce optimum welds for various weld configurations.


“This is the latest addition to our engineering and manufacturing capabilities and will enable Austin to provide an even better service.”


Accompanied by offline programming software, the robot program can be developed simultaneously while the robot is working. The software also allows for an automatic calculation to enable the optimum welding position/angle, reducing the workload on robot programming.


The system adheres to Australian safety standards, keeping workers safe at all times whilst improving output and quality.


This new product aside, an example of Austin Engineering’s effectiveness of providing the best solution to a problem can be seen through its work at an Australian coal mine which used Caterpillar’s 789C and 793D models.


“The client required us to design and manufacture a truck body compatible with the CAT 793D truck that could overcome localised wear issues and meet the miner’s productivity, performance and reliability requirements,” Mr Collins said.


Armed with details about the unique site-based requirements of the mine and the miner’s key performance indicators (KPIs) for the replacement bodies, Austin was able to design and fabricate a JEC body, fully customised to maximise payload capacity.


The resulting payload was 231 tonnes, nine tonnes more than the original target of 222 tonnes. “This equated to an extra two-and-a-half truck loads per hour across the fleet,” Mr Collins said.


“Added to this there has been no structural cracking or wear to date and floor replacement is expected every three to four years, up from the original one to two years.”


Further improvements come in the body shape, which improves dumping efficiency. The body empties at 60 per cent hoist height, reducing hoist cycle time. The overall haul cycle has also been improved as the new bodies are matched to diggers to provide a five-pass load with 29 cubic metre buckets.


Austin Engineering General Manager Noor Crookshanks said Austin Engineering was able to achieve such a successful result in this situation because it worked in partnership with its customers to achieve maximum productivity at the lowest cost per tonne.


“We have fully equipped heavy fabrication workshops strategically located around the world with high capacity overhead cranes, the latest in plate cutting, bending, robotic welding systems and machining equipment,” Mr Crookshanks said.


Added to this, Austin Engineering offers on and off-site repair and maintenance, condition monitoring, engineering and products improvements.


“We are a complete service provider,” Mr Crookshanks said. “Safety and quality are always in the forefront of our business from the design and engineering of a product to the manufacture, repair and maintenance services with multiple safety accreditations, including ISO9001:2015, OHSAS 18001:2007 and AS-NZS 4801:2001.


“It is why we are world’s leading designer and manufacturer of customised, high quality dump truck bodies, buckets and ancillary products used in the mining industry.”


Image: Austin Engineering specialists programming the Cloos robot.