Mining and Heavy Industries

Altra Motion targets Bowen Basin with Twiflex brakes

Power transmission specialist Altra Industrial Motion has developed the next generation of its Twiflex brake package.

Power transmission specialist Altra Industrial Motion has developed the next generation of its Twiflex brake package.

Due to how dragline bucket excavators are designed, there are few brakes that will work. Spring-applied, air-release caliper brakes are among the select few that can handle the challenging task.

Altra Industrial Motion, in conjunction with a large original equipment manufacturer (OEM), designed a range of these brakes for use on the mining industry’s dragline excavators around 20 years ago. More than 8000 Twiflex brakes have since been installed in mines across the world.

Daemon Flack, Altra Motion Australia’s Twiflex product specialist, said the company has updated the Twiflex range to make them more environmentally friendly and even easier to maintain.

“We have included the next evolution of brake pads, using organic material that are completely asbestos free and have better braking coefficients out of the box,” he said.

“The compositions of the diaphragms in the thrusters have been upgraded to make them even more reliable, and the overall simple design makes it easy and effective to install and maintain.”

The complete package includes brake callipers, thrusters, mounting frames, mounting bolts, brake discs, hubs, air-pressure regulators, local piping, and guards.

The brakes are also designed to be modular, allowing for quick changeout. The only part that needs to be changed out in its normal life cycle is the brake pad itself, which features a wear indicator to let staff know when replacements are needed.

Flack said the ease of maintenance and changeouts is significant for draglines, as it reduces downtime considerably.

“A typical shut for a dragline used to be two weeks,” he said. “Now it’s around five days – that’s more than halved.”

“Our Twiflex package allows mines to move quickly during these critical planned shuts. The brakes have minimal moving parts and are easy to reach on the machine.”

The fact Altra Motion Australia is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) means the company can provide detailed service and support. This includes adjustments to the brakes, installation services, and access to in-depth repair refurbishment facilities.

Gavin Ellis, Altra’s area sales manager for Queensland, has worked in the Bowen Basin’s mining region for more than 12 years. He said the three main parameters that matter to miners are reliability, ease of maintenance, and total cost of ownership.

“We’ve worked with the Twiflex brakes for more than 20 years now, and they tick all three of the boxes,” he said.

“With our service team, we can go to site, check the pad wear, and provide preventive maintenance.

“If necessary, we can get the brake units into our workshop for refurbishment and provide a replacement to minimise any downtime.”

Altra’s workshops are located all around the country, including the Bowen Basin. 

One of the major coal mines in the area recently came to Altra because it needed to replace the brakes on its dragline, which had been in constant operation since 2011. With a working weight of 6950 tonnes and a bucket capacity of around 116 cubic metres, the massive machine can move 240 tonnes of overburden in a single pass.

Twiflex was selected to provide spring-applied, air-released replacement caliper brakes for
all of the dragline’s motors:

  • Eight hoist and eight drag 1450HP motors, each with multiple GMR-SD 15.6 caliper brakes operating on discs that provide a combined braking force of 72kN
  • Four propel 1045HP motors, each with multiple GMR-SD 15.6 caliper brakes operating on discs that provide a combined braking force of 72kN

The GMR-SD calliper brake’s modular design allows for the use of multiple units to meet specific installation requirements. The low-maintenance brakes feature easy to-replace brake pads and low-cost spares.

Gregg Booyens, area sales manager for the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, said customers liked working with businesses that support the local industry.

“Altra employs local people and invests into the community,” he said. “The staff here have extensive experience in the area and with the several brands we represent.

“It was a strategic move to open up the Newcastle facility (in New South Wales), as we have a large market share in the region. We can also lean heavily on the Mackay branch (in Queensland) and the staff there.

“We also welcome mining customers into our facility to see the units get repairs, and form relationships with area sales managers and technical service teams to make sure they feel as supported as possible.” 

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