Client: Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG)

Location: Newcastle, NSW


Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) is the owner and operator of one of Australia’s major coal export terminals. The site is responsible for the transfer of coal from train unloading facilities to ships.

We were contracted to undertake site-based testing to investigate the cause of the Stacker Reclaimer elevator locking pins jamming, which was resulting in production delays and potential safety issues.

Resolving this issue was critical for NCIG because the locking pin is an essential part of the Stacker Reclaimer equipment and enables the tripper car to be locked in one of two positions, depending on whether or not coal is not required to be stacked (that is, bypass position).


  • Analysis and identification of the root cause
  • Use of advanced measurement and analysis tools including vision processing software which ensured operational uptime throughout the assessment
  • Recommendation on the most feasible solution
  • Work carried out with minimal impact to operations.

Overview of the Testing and Analysis Services Provided

The specialist mechanical testing team visited the site to assess the Stacker Reclaimer locking pins and conduct  a series of onsite measurements.

These included:

  • Cylinder load measurement using pressure sensors
  • Pin movement/displacement measurements using a laser displacement sensor
  • Clevis alignment measurements using a camera and vision processing software.

What Did The Measurements Show?

Analysis of the measured data was able to pinpoint the conditions which led to the locking pin jamming, as well as the force required to remove the locking pin.

Precision Technology Supporting The Investigation Process

The use of camera and vision processing software allowed the clevis misalignment to be accurately measured and recorded over a period of time while the machine was operating.

This technology allowed closer monitoring and more accurate measurements of the equipment.

Minimising Impact To Operations

To properly assess the problem, the team had to test various components of the Stacker Reclaimer.

To minimise loss of throughput, the camera and vision processing software were utilised. This enabled the pin and clevis area to be monitored while the machine was operational, without introducing any safety risks.

As a result, testing was completed in a single day, while minimising disruption to production.

Designing The Solution

The measurements showed when the greatest force to remove the pin occurred and what force was required.

The displacement of the pin was also able to be measured continuously and compared to the force in the cylinder at a given point in time.

The recommendations from the analysis were:

  • The pin redesign should concentrate on the reduction of the break force
  • Increasing the cylinder pressure to increase force should be the preferenced over increasing the cylinder size due to space constraints and redesign complexity.

These recommendations led to the modification of the pin. It has since been reported that the locking pins have not been jamming since the modification.