Equipment & Technology

Lifting Australian manufacturing

ABHR speaks to Rick Kelly, Sales Engineer at SAM Technology Engineers to learn how the company’s bespoke winches are used in the bulk handling sector.

Designing winches was a natural step forward for SAM Technology Engineers. Originally established in 1934 as a crane designer and manufacturer, the company had extensive experience with winches, a key component in materials handling and lifting.

The company has a wide range of special purposes winches and capstan winches available for various applications, with the majority of them bespoke designed for heavy industrial use.

Rick Kelly, Sales Engineer at SAM Technology Engineers, says the winches can be found on shiploaders, stackers, reclaimers, tensioning devices on conveyor belts, and winders across the country.

“For most heavy-industry applications, there’s not an off the shelf type of product available,” he says. “These aren’t the same as the winches you might have on your four-wheel drive, these are designed to handle some of the toughest jobs out there and handle extreme environments,” Kelly says.

“That’s why we take into consideration the capacity required and the specific application the winches will be used for.”

SAM Technology works closely with its customers to collaborate on the design of its winches before beginning the manufacturing process. The company’s engineers will learn what the winch will be required to move, what the safety margin is, what kind of use it will see, and how often it will be used.

If a winch is to be installed on a shiploader, the company will take into consideration the corrosive environment the winches will be placed into. Sea water can cause the premature wearing or failure of components, so the company will often design the winch to use stainless or galvanised steel include marine-grade painting systems to provide the necessary rust protection.

In the case of a dirty environment, the winch will also likely include heavy-duty seals on mechanical components to protect the internal bearings and moving parts. As winches are often heavy, rotating pieces of machinery, safety measures are taken to protect nearby workers, such as guarding around the equipment.

Kelly says SAM Technology’s design team works within the space limitations available, using software including Microsoft Inventor, AutoCAD and Strand 7 for modelling and stress analysis.

“A lot of the time the weight and space are critical considerations as to whether a winch will fit and work effectively in the space provided,” he says.

“Another consideration we take is whether the drum requires a single layer of rope or multiple. The winch feed is an important part of the overall design – you want to be able to control a descent to avoid introducing other loads.”

SAM Technology is an Australian manufacturer, with its own production facility and factory in Smithfield, New South Wales. Here, the company can fabricate, assemble and test its designs in a large machine shop. Electrical engineers can provide complex programmable logic controller programming, along with sensors and other equipment as required.

Kelly says that because the business is an Australian manufacturer, it is acutely aware of the Australian Standards and local industry.

“We design all of our winches under the crane standard, AS1418, using locally sourced steel and equipment such as gearboxes and motors from other local agencies. We also design and supply sheaves and reeving systems,” he says.

“Customers can even get involved in the design and manufacturing process. We regularly invite them to come in and inspect it at multiple points during the fabrication process at different milestones.

“There is also the added benefit of supporting local jobs and passing on important skills to apprentices, which has a big impact on the industry as a whole.”

The company can manufacture and design other components to its customer’s specifications if required.

Following the manufacturing stage, SAM Technology can provide installation, commissioning and ongoing maintenance services throughout the winch’s lifecycle. It holds a number of spare parts at its Smithfield facility and can provide additional components where necessary, thanks to relationships with coupling and brake manufacturers.

Kelly says the company is gearing up for an interesting time in the mineral industry.

“There have been a lot of developments happening in the mineral sands industries and other mining sectors,” he says.

“We’ve also seen a lot of new opportunities arise out of the large infrastructure projects that have been taking place over the past 10 years. Rail metro tunnelling projects are within the scope for winches, as they require specialised support.

“It’s likely that we’ll continue to see significant growth over the next few years as we branch out into new sectors.” 

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