Metal Testing has solidified its commitment to innovation by engineering the latest in track tensioning technology right here in Australia.

With ever-growing pressures on mining operations, companies can now reduce maintenance time on their dozer equipment by up to four days by leveraging this track tensioner’s capabilities.

When crucial machine or equipment breaks down on-site, the potential impact on revenue is significant to an operation.

The sudden, unexpected impact to production means it is critical for the mine team to source replacements or get repairs done as quickly as possible.

Metal Testing’s track tensioner design provides a safer, more reliable and durable tensioning system for use in some of the most high-risk and harshest environments in Australia.

The Australian Mining Review spoke with Metal Testing Director, Mohan Narayan, about the innovative technology, as well as other solutions the company offers.

Metal Testing is a leading Australian non-destructive testing company which specialises in testing metal structures for fatigue cracking.

Based in Queensland, the NATA-accredited company works with mining and oil and gas clients across the country in both on-shore and off-shore applications.

“We are an Australian-owned business who care about our end clients,” Mohan said.

“We investigate the root cause of each fatigue failure and investigate what changes could be made to benefit the client in the long term.”

The dozer track assembly.

Making Tracks

With ever-growing pressures on mining operations, companies are reliant on the life span of their equipment and mining fleet.

Dozer equipment is often on the front-line of such operations.

Dozer operators should always check the dozer track’s tension is just right, to get the most out of their equipment.

If a track is too tight, or too loose, its components will wear faster.

On most dozers, a coil spring compresses or extends to take up small changes in track tension during operation.

When the tension of a track needs to be adjusted, a short stroke hydraulic cylinder filled with grease is typically used.

The grease extends the coil spring which in turn drives the idler wheel to the desired position and holds it there under retained grease pressure.

Root Cause of Failure

Having inspected metal structures and components for signs of fatigue stress for many years, Metal Testing noticed a trend in the way dozer track tensioners were failing.

“Because we were testing so many dozer track tensioners from clients across Australia, we saw a pattern in the way stress fatigue cracks were developing,” Mohan said.

Metal Testing investigated this trend further and managed to develop a Track Tensioner solution, manufactured here in Australia, which could save companies up to four days of maintenance time and extend the life of their track tensioner.

The Metal Testing track tensioner shaft.

Slashing Maintenance Time by 80%

Typically, when a track tensioner breaks inside a dozer, it can take up to five days to strip the dozer, remove the broken component and repair it.

The Metal Testing track tensioner can be switched out in a matter of hours to allow the equipment to remain operational.

The design allows for safe, simple access as the operator need only remove ten bolts to remove the broken tensioner and vice versa to install a replacement.

This process could lead to an 80% reduction in track tensioner maintenance time.

In addition to maintenance time, companies may also need to wait for replacement parts from overseas, which has proven challenging through 2020 and could be equally challenging in 2021 and beyond.

The Metal Testing track tensioner provides companies with the option of sourcing equipment designed and manufactured here in Australia, eliminating any associated international shipping cost.

Safety in Design

The conventional dozer track adjustment process comes with great risk if not undertaken properly and particularly if the dozer and its components are not well maintained.

The uncontrolled release of energy poses a significant risk to maintenance personnel in the track tensioning process.

AMR asked Metal Testing what controls they had used in their design to address the fatal risks associated with performing track maintenance on dozer tracks.

Mohan said: “We believe safety is paramount, when it comes to design, manufacturing, operations and maintenance.

“We have designed and manufactured the Track Tensioner in accordance with Australian Standards and have undertaken non-destructive testing on each piece to ensure the product has been manufactured as per the design intent.

“We have designed the spring assembly to be sealed inside the track tensioning shaft to provide a physical barrier between personnel and the stored energy sources.”

The Metal Testing track tensioner.

The Metal Testing Track Tensioner Design

The Metal Testing track tensioner is designed, machined and fabricated in Toowomba, Queensland by highly certified tradespeople.

The company used finite element modelling techniques recognised by Australian Standards to fine-tune their design.

The shaft is made of one casting with excellent tensile strength properties and can be positioned in reverse if it wears on one end (in the keyway) doubling its operational life.

The track tensioner comes with stress relief features.

Dowels can be used to locate the shaft and support the assembly which reduces the stress typically put on the bolts.

The track tensioner itself is split into two pieces and is held together as an assembly with 10 bolts, making it easy to service.

In the first design of its kind, the risk of the uncontrolled release of energy from the spring assembly has been eliminated.

The spring assembly is sealed inside the track tensioning shaft which provides a physical barrier between personnel and the energy source.

Metal Testing will provide clients with certificates for every Metal Testing track tensioner manufactured, which will state how the piece was welded and manufactured.

It will also provide a process and chemical analysis and non-destructive testing record.

Product Assembly and Disassembly

Each Metal Testing track tensioner comes with product assembly and disassembly instructions.

The unit is simple to assemble and disassemble but the work must be undertaken by a qualified tradesperson.

The Future

Mohan said the company has personnel with 15 years’ experience in welding inspections available for site work anywhere in Australia.

“We have track tensioners manufactured and ready for use in D10 dozers and have casting patterns available for D8s, D9s and D11s,” he said.

“We are looking to supply the track tensioner outer shell to mine servicing companies for assembly into dozer frames.

“If there is any wear and tear after 20,000 hours, we can fix it.

“But before we fix it, we will send you another track tensioner to allow your operation to continue.”

“Spare shaft or Head end parts can be stored in the site workshop, so there is no need to wait for the parts.”

In a Nutshell

Metal Testing is a leading Australian non-destructive testing company which has taken a successful leap from specialising in testing metal structures for fatigue stress cracking to engineering innovative solutions to improve the design of the structures it inspects.

“We care about our clients and are proud to be an Australian born company,” Mohan said.

“Our track tensioner is manufactured in Australia.

“Every part of the process, from scratch, is built to Australian Standards.

“FEA analysis has proven positive results with the material grade we have chosen to cast the product in Queensland Australia. We will be providing ongoing support with any parts purchased, and we are happy to refurbish parts to allow clients to swap them out easily.

“We are proud to say it’s made in Australia.”

Metal Testing aim to be the leading supplier and manufacturer of track tensioners in Australia.

The tensioner is registered for use in Australia and the company will be registering the design internationally throughout 2021 via the international patent PCT/AU2020/050991 and the Australian Design Registration number 202016552.

Contact Metal Testing to get you on the right track in 2021.

Metal Testing
P: +61 0432266940
E: [email protected]