Geology Talk

How innovation, new ideas can put the wind in a quarry?s sails

You may recall that earlier this year I commented on the radical boat design that in late June carried Team New Zealand to a comprehensive victory over the United States defender Oracle in the 35th edition of the America’s Cup.

The winning 15m long, carbon fibre, foiling catamaran with a 25m high articulated wingsail attracted a lot of media attention for eschewing a yacht’s traditional “coffee grinders” for bicycle seats and pedals. The pedals meant the sailors used their legs, not their arms, to create the hydraulic pressure that powered the boat’s sophisticated control systems.

This unique set-up, coupled with innovative hydrofoil designs, gave the Kiwi boat continuous, almost 100 per cent stable flight in light to moderate winds. Further, the hydraulic system ran off an Xbox-shaped programmable logic controller – essentially the same type of PLC used in quarries and other industrial processes. This enabled the crew to operate the daggerboards, the jib, the wingsail and the rudder at the mere flick of a switch, even while some of them were pedalling furiously! While their competitors were also using PLCs, the functionality was less effective because at least four of the six crewmen had to work on the grinders and, unlike their Kiwi opponents, couldn’t multi-task and operate other functions while pumping iron.

I remarked in my March editorial that pedal power exemplified innovations and efficiencies that even the quarrying industry shouldn’t discount. In the light of New Zealand’s impressive victory, it’s safe to say that inventive thinking can deliver substantial benefits. It just requires determination, courage and teamwork to make it happen.

{{quote-A:R-W:300-I:1-Q:In the light of New Zealand’s impressive victory, it’s safe to say that inventive thinking can deliver substantial benefits. It just requires determination, courage and teamwork to make it happen.-WHO:Damien Christie, Editor of Quarry Magazine}}

While they may not be world-beating, sporting achievements, there are a couple of features that we’ve run in Quarry recently that illustrate quarries are working hard to be more efficient and inventive – and reaping the results.

For example, we reported on how Hy-Tec Grants Head Quarry, in consultation with site personnel, developed an emergency response and safety station that could store fire extinguishers and other personal protective equipment around crushing and screening plant.

In this issue, we report on other successful initiatives: how Boral Linwood Quarry and an OEM partnered to revamp the quarry’s ageing primary and tertiary crushing circuits; how Boral’s Phillip Pallisier led a crushing optimisation project in the Top End that led to significant innovations, improvements and savings; and how Keith Joy devised a means of rehabilitating quarried landscapes that could yet become best practice in the Top End. All of these endeavours required belief, buy-in and teamwork from personnel, OEMs and other supporters.

As Glenn Ashby, the Aussie skipper of Team New Zealand, said of his organisation: “The technology, design and engineering side of things gave us, as the sailing team, great confidence in knowing that if we could … keep developing and keep pushing [our] design and engineering guys then we would have a package that was … ultimately the most advanced … on the water.”

The end result is that the fastest, most innovative yacht outclassed the defender of yachting’s “Auld Mug” – Oracle software mogul Larry Ellison, merely the sixth richest person in the world. Clearly that illustrates that if a creative team from a tiny island nation of four million can beat a technological behemoth in one of the world’s toughest regattas, then even quarries, with modest budgets but clever thinking, can confidently 'sail' home with the wind at their backs!


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Pedal-power innovation opens the mind to other possibilities

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