Mining Fabrication: Leading the way in autonomous component manufacturing
Mining fabrication, specifically for autonomous components such as lasers, GPS posts or switchboards, is a fundamental but often overlooked technique that quite literally underpins the operational capacity of mining vehicles and equipment.
From bulldozers to front end loaders to diggers, heavy machinery is ubiquitous in WA’s $115 billion mining industry—with the larger companies operating fleets in their thousands.
And with the rapid development of vehicle technology, mining companies have capitalised on the increased efficiency of automation, transitioning toward robotic technology and software automation for mining vehicles and equipment.
Since 2008, mining giant Rio Tinto Group’s autonomous fleet has hauled more than 200 million tonnes in the Pilbara region, with the majority of their machinery operators working from a control centre in Perth, demonstrating the technology’s huge potential for productivity gains.
But it’s not just as simple as purchasing an ‘off-the-shelf’ automation component that can be fitted to a vehicle or piece of equipment, according to Anthony Chiera, Managing Director at Western Metalworx.
“We are seeing more and more customers come in requesting custom fabrication for automation components,” he explained. “It’s certainly a growing area of need.”
“It’s a highly technical line of work and attention to detail is absolutely fundamental,” he continued. “If a bracket is bent just one degree out of place, it could throw a laser out by more than twenty-metres.”
‘Bullet-proof’ component fabrication techniques
With more than 35 technical staff working in state-of-the-art new premises, Western Metalworx is uniquely positioned to deliver mining fabrication services—particularly those custom jobs which require multi-lateral expertise.
“Customers come to us with all kinds of requests, from manufacturing custom brackets or enclosures for lasers, GPS posts or switchboards. No two jobs are the same,” says Anthony Chiera.
“Our approach is always to innovate and to find a better solution than what the customer originally had in mind. We aim for our fabrication to be bulletproof and long-lasting, rather than to create something quickly that will fatigue in six months.”
Among Western Metalworx 35 staff are engineers, sheet metal fabricators, boilermakers and vehicle bodybuilders, who each play a hand in the fabrication process from developing the initial prototype to crafting the brackets to a customer’s exact specifications.
Mining sector fabrication expertise
Well-attuned to the specialist needs of the resources sector, Western Metalworx’s streamlined, end-to-end metal fabrication services for mining are employed by many of the industry’s biggest players.
This in-depth knowledge of the sector’s specific operating conditions and safety needs informs Chiera and his team’s approach to fabricating autonomous components.
“Key to our success is understanding the usage of these automated vehicles and equipment,” he explains. “They are working day in, day out in harsh conditions, and have to withstand extreme heat, wind and vibration—and we custom engineer our products with this in mind.”
While the bulk of their customers are in Western Australia’s mineral-rich Pilbara region, Western Metalworx also ships Australia-wide and internationally.
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