12 Oct 2016
It’s not that often that you’re happy when your product gets a total bucketing, but in this case Bisalloy Steels is more than delighted.
Well, it's big, it's green, it looks mean - and ...oh heck.
Meet the Earth Eater.
It's a mining bucket with attitude - and a significantly bigger appetite than its rivals.
And the Earth Eater's success, first in Australia, and now overseas, is all thanks to the efforts of an innovative Queensland mining company, a talented Australian design engineer - and the application of the unique qualities of BISALLOY® steel’s quench and tempered plate steel, the only steel used throughout the Earth Eater's construction.
The company making a success of the Earth Eater is Central Queensland Mining Supplies, in Mackay, and the design engineer is Bruce Leslie, of Leslie Consulting, in Brisbane.
Between them, they have taken the mining bucket - something which has been largely taken for granted up till now - and, If not revolutionized, then certainly optimized, the design in such a way that it has meant a 10 percent increase in capacity and efficiency, yet with significantly less weight.
In an industry like mining, where greater volume and speed of extraction equals greater profit, that’s a mighty breakthrough.
It’s not surprising then, that, apart from already being widely accepted in the Queensland mining industry as a better bucket, the Earth Eater is now also sinking its teeth into tough new export markets - including the USA.
It also shouldn't surprise that this success came from hard work - not guesswork.
And, likewise, while Bisalloy steels is unique in being Australia’s only manufacturer of quenched and tempered steel, BISALLOY® steels wasn't blindly chosen for the Earth Eater out of patriotism.
It had to prove itself against rival products, and against verifiable and quantifiable criteria.
Bruce Leslie: "We researched the available quenched and tempered plates. This included Welten, Weldox, and BISALLOY® steel. We assessed all suppliers on the basis of detailed material properties - especially fatigue when welded. We also took into account stock sizes, availability, accessibility to the manufacturer for sorting out any issues with the product weld procedures, preheats, and the extent of testing for fatigue, among other factors.
“In the end, BISALLOY® Wear 80 steel was selected due to its material properties being at least the equivalent of other plates. Plus, we had better access to manufacturing in the event of any problems, a better range of plate sizes, and better stock levels.
So, what improvements did using BISALLOY® Wear 80 steel in the design of the Earth Eater?
“Previously, traditional buckets were made with combination of basket plates, with strips of wear plate added. These were expensive to build and maintain, and were very heavy.
“Also, the wear bars inside the buckets reduced efficiency by causing significant obstacles to filling. The bars tended to bulldoze the material at the front of the bucket, rather than allowing it to fill smoothly to the rear.
“BISALLOY® Wear steel’s combination of strength and lightness, however, has allowed us to merge the functions of wear resistance and structure in the overall design. The result is, we're able to use single thickness plate throughout the Earth Eater floor and sides. Eliminating the wear bar approaches meant lighter weight, and much faster filling, with less fill-energy required."
Can you quantify the contribution BISALLOY® steel made in terms of weight savings, increased capacity, life of the bucket and so on?
"The BISALLOY® steel plate has allowed us to trim 10-15% off the bucket mass, while maintaining the necessary strength and service life. Manufacturers who have tried to use harder plates have struck problems with short life due to cracking. The poorer weld ability of the harder plates also doesn't allow the extra wear life from the harder plate to be delivered. But BISALLOY® steel provides excellent weld ability - we can bend 40mm plate over 4m width. Simply, BISALLOY® steel has proven itself to be the best possible compromise.
“In business these days, you hear a lot about “raising the bar" in product design, quality, delivery and customer satisfaction.
Well, here's an example of a mining company which not only raised the bar, but eliminated incompletely- and is deservedly reaping the profits, both here and overseas, as a result.
Proof once again that BISALLOY® steel has remarkable properties: it can not only strengthen a product like the Earth Eater, but the company that makes it, too.
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