Leading Caterpillar dealer WesTrac is reducing the need for personnel to work within the footprint of live equipment in up to 90 percent of common maintenance tasks.
The Elimination of Live Work (ELW) project has involved WesTrac staff from across the business identifying technology, tools, and work processes that can eliminate safety risks involved with people working in close proximity to live equipment.
Initially introduced to WesTrac by a major mining client as part of ongoing safety improvement initiatives, the ELW project has gained industry-wide focus.
WesTrac’s Newman Branch Manager James Davey said the aim of the project, which involves a range of mining-focused Original Equipment Manufacturers and service teams, was to eliminate significant risk factors associated with working on heavy machinery and equipment.
“The purpose of this project is not to deal with little nicks and cuts, it’s about saving lives,”
“If things go wrong when people are working on live equipment with multiple moving parts, and that can weigh hundreds of tonnes, the results could be disastrous.”
“It’s an area of major focus across the Australian mining and construction sectors to continually reduce risks and enhance safety performance.”
Since commencing its own ELW project in 2018, WesTrac has devised a range of specialized tools, some itself and some in collaboration with mining companies and other OEMs.
One such tool, affectionately known as R2D2, is a remote-controlled camera mounted on an anti-vibrating base that can swivel 360 degrees to carry out a wide range of inspections on live machines.
Controlled from a tablet, the camera provides the operator with a real-time view and can record the session for closer follow-up investigation.
James says the camera’s resolution and 30-times optical zoom allow operators to read gauges, look for leaks and even carry out pre-maintenance checks.
“Inspections are often the first part of a task and this camera allows those carrying out the work to stay out of the danger zone, particularly if a machine is running,”
WesTrac has also developed an ELW Field Service Kit with a range of tooling to allow both mobile and workshop-based mechanics to carry out numerous inspection and testing requirements without the need to work in proximity of high-risk areas.
James said the company was currently developing work instructions, expected to be complete within the next three months, and would then deploy specialists to WesTrac’s branches, stores, and sites to assist in embedding ELW practices.
“By December this year, we expect all sites to be equipped with the required tools, technology, and understanding to carry out 90 percent of live-work tasks under the ELW work practices,” he said.
“For the remaining 10 percent of tasks that still require personnel to work within the footprint, we’re enhancing procedures to ensure an even greater focus on risk elimination.”
James said while equipment and service providers typically worked in competition to one another when it came to safety the attitude was completely different.
“When it comes to saving lives and reducing risk, everyone is willing to share technology, tools, and knowledge to drive better outcomes,” he said.
WesTrac has already been recognized for its ELW work with a safety award from BHP and recognition of the ELW program from the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
“Over the next 12 months, our goal is to transition ELW from a project to the standard ’way we work’,”