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Title:
RAIL CAR ABSORBER ASSEMBLY APPARATUS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/098536
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having: a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition, a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device, the feeder and the insertion device are located within a safety barrier such that the apparatus is able to process the expanded absorber and to provide the yoke with the compressed absorber inserted therein, with an operator remaining outside the safety barrier.

Inventors:
VAN DER VEEN, Adriaan Piet (c/-Level 2, 87 Adelaide TerraceEast Perth, Western Australia 6004, 6004, AU)
Application Number:
AU2017/051331
Publication Date:
June 07, 2018
Filing Date:
December 04, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LTD (Level 2, 87 Adelaide TerraceEast Perth, Victoria 6004, 6004, AU)
International Classes:
B61G7/10; B25B27/28; B25B27/30; B61G7/14; B61G9/00
Foreign References:
US4354302A1982-10-19
US2863212A1958-12-09
US2863357A1958-12-09
US3534942A1970-10-20
GB1365494A1974-09-04
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIES COLLISON CAVE PTY LTD (Level 15, 1 Nicholson Street MelbourneMelbourne, Victoria 3000, 3000, AU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAI MS

1. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device, the feeder and the insertion device are located within a safety barrier such that the apparatus is able to process the expanded absorber and to provide the yoke with the compressed absorber inserted therein, with an operator remaining outside the safety barrier.

2. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

wherein the feeder includes a feed arrangement including one or more conduits for automatically locating the retaining inserts in the absorber.

3. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

a rotation device for rotating the compressed absorber from an upright configuration in which the absorber is sitting on its end to an installation configuration in which the absorber is sitting on its side.

4. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

wherein the apparatus is adapted such that it provides the compressed absorber in an orientation in which the absorber is able to be lifted by a magnetic crane without increasing compression on the retaining inserts during lifting.

5. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

a support for locating a plurality of yoke types in adjacent formation and aligned at a common level for passing a compressed absorber laterally through one yoke and into an adjacent yoke at the common level.

6. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in claim 5, wherein the support includes one or more spigots adapted for supporting the plurality of yoke types at the common level.

7. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device, the feeder and the insertion device are located within a safety barrier; and a control panel accessible from outside the barrier for control by an operator.

8. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device, the feeder and the insertion device are located within a safety barrier and wherein the apparatus is arranged to automatically identify different types of absorbers and to automatically control the compression device and/or the insertion device according to the detected absorber type.

9. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device includes a compression head mounted pivotally to accommodate uneven protrusion of clutch plates of the absorber.

10. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein the absorber is in the form of a draft pack.

11. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 10, wherein the compression device has a press tool for applying pressure to the absorber, and the apparatus includes a guide channel arranged to feed a retaining insert to the press tool.

12. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in claim 11, wherein the apparatus includes a plurality of separate guide channels, each guide channel being arranged to feed a retaining insert to a different location of the press tool.

13. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in claim 12, wherein the apparatus includes three separate guide channels, each guide channel arranged to feed a retaining insert to a different location of the press tool.

14. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 11 to

13, wherein the or each guide channel is arranged to feed a retaining insert to the press tool by gravity.

15. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 11 to

14, wherein the or each guide channel is in the form of a transparent tube.

16. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 11 to

15, wherein the or each guide channel has a receiving end for receiving the insert from an operator, and the receiving end is located externally of a safety cell surrounding the apparatus.

17. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 1 to

16, wherein the apparatus includes a universal locating spigot for locating different types of yoke at a common plane for lateral insertion of the compressed absorber.

18. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in claim 5 or claim 6, wherein the apparatus is arranged to push a first compressed absorber via a second compressed absorber into place, with each of the compressed absorbers being located within a respective yoke at said common level.

19. A rail car absorber assembly apparatus as claimed in claim 5 or claim 6, wherein the apparatus includes a plurality of spigots for positively spacing apart the yokes, centres of the adjacent yokes being spaced apart by the width of an absorber.

Description:
RAI L CAR ABSORBER ASSEMBLY APPARATUS

Field of the I nvention

The present invention relates to an absorber assembly apparatus and, more particularly, but not exclusively, to a rail car absorber assembly apparatus. The absorber may be of the kind commonly referred to as a "spring pack" or "draft pack" or "draft gear" for use in absorbing movement between cars of a train, specifically between ore cars.

Background to the Invention

More specifically, spring packs are provided in the coupling between rail cars to absorb kinetic energy and to prevent damage to the rail cars. A spring pack includes a resilient member which is able to compress with relative movement between coupled rail cars, thereby preventing damage to the cars.

The absorber assembly may include a spring pack within a yoke, with a follower block in place. Over time, particularly where there is failure of the spring pack and/or the yoke, it becomes necessary in maintaining the rolling stock to recondition the spring packs. The applicant has identified that existing methods of compressing spring packs are potentially dangerous and excessively time consuming. The spring packs must be recompressed for the reconditioning to take place. In particular, the resilient member of the spring pack needs to be compressed within a housing of the spring pack, with sacrificial retaining blocker inserts, or "dices", then inserted to hold the resilient member in the compressed state relative to the housing. A large amount of energy is required for recompressing the resilient member, and this has been done in the past by way of a simple press, for example as shown in Figure 1 , in a manual procedure taking in the order of 2 hours.

Moreover, compressing a spring pack in a press 10 as shown in Figure 1 leaves an operator in potentially dangerous proximity to large forces as well as in proximity to the retaining inserts which themselves may be formed of hard and brittle material which can shatter dramatically and prematurely.

The applicant has determined that it would be advantageous to provide an apparatus for compressing and assembling an absorber assembly of a rail car which overcomes or at least alleviates one or more disadvantages of existing methodology, or at least provides a useful alternative. Summarv of the I nvention

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device, the feeder and the insertion device are located within a safety barrier such that the apparatus is able to process the expanded absorber and to provide the yoke with the compressed absorber inserted therein, with an operator remaining outside the safety barrier. In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

wherein the feeder includes a feed arrangement including one or more conduits for automatically locating the retaining inserts in the absorber. In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

a rotation device for rotating the compressed absorber from an upright configuration in which the absorber is sitting on its end to an installation configuration in which the absorber is sitting on its side. ln accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

wherein the apparatus is adapted such that it provides the compressed absorber in an orientation in which the absorber is able to be lifted by a magnetic crane without increasing compression on the retaining inserts during lifting.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

a support for locating a plurality of yoke types in adjacent formation and aligned at a common level for passing a compressed absorber laterally through one yoke and into an adjacent yoke at the common level.

Preferably, the support includes one or more spigots adapted for supporting the plurality of yoke types at the common level. In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device, the feeder and the insertion device are located within a safety barrier; and a control panel accessible from outside the barrier for control by an operator.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device, the feeder and the insertion device are located within a safety barrier and wherein the apparatus is arranged to automatically identify different types of absorbers and to automatically control the compression device and/or the insertion device according to the detected absorber type.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a rail car absorber assembly apparatus arranged to receive an expanded absorber, the apparatus having:

a compression device for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition,

a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber, while the absorber is held in the compressed condition by the compression device, to retain the absorber in the compressed condition; and

an insertion device for inserting the compressed absorber in a rail car yoke; wherein the compression device includes a compression head mounted pivotally to accommodate uneven protrusion of clutch plates of the absorber.

Preferably, the absorber is in the form of a draft pack.

Preferably, the compression device has a press tool for applying pressure to the absorber, and the apparatus includes a guide channel arranged to feed a retaining insert to the press tool. More preferably, the apparatus includes a plurality of separate guide channels, each guide channel being arranged to feed a retaining insert to a different location of the press tool. Even more preferably, the apparatus includes three separate guide channels, each guide channel arranged to feed a retaining insert to a different location of the press tool. In one form, the or each guide channel is arranged to feed a retaining insert to the press tool by gravity. The or each guide channel may be in the form of a transparent tube. In a preferred form, the or each guide channel has a receiving end for receiving the insert from an operator, and the receiving end is located externally of a safety cell surrounding the apparatus.

Preferably, the apparatus includes a universal locating spigot for locating different types of yoke at a common plane for lateral insertion of the compressed absorber. More preferably, the apparatus includes a plurality of universal locating spigots for positively spacing apart the yokes, with centres of the adjacent yokes being spaced apart by the width of an absorber.

In a preferred form, the apparatus is arranged to push a first compressed absorber via a second compressed absorber into place, with each of the compressed absorbers being located within a respective yoke at said common level.

Brief Description of the Drawings The invention is described, by way of non-limiting example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 shows an existing press used for compressing spring packs;

Figure 2 shows a rail car absorber assembly apparatus in accordance with an example of the present invention;

Figure 3 shows a control panel of the apparatus;

Figure 4 shows an E-stop valve of the apparatus;

Figure 5 shows a main isolator of the apparatus;

Figure 6 shows a hydraulic oil level of the apparatus;

Figure 7 shows process complete switches of the apparatus;

Figure 8 shows a press tool of the apparatus;

Figure 9 shows a position switch of the apparatus;

Figures 10 and 11 show placing a pallet of yokes for assembly;

Figure 12 shows spring packs being loaded onto the apparatus;

Figure 13 shows a spring pack loaded on the apparatus;

Figure 14 shows a control for loading spring packs into an inbound line of the apparatus;

Figure 15 shows a foot switch of the apparatus;

Figure 16 shows cutting strapping in preparation for loading;

Figure 17 shows attaching a lifting magnet to a yoke; Figure 18 shows a yoke being loaded into position on the apparatus;

Figure 19 shows the yoke loaded;

Figures 20 and 21 show a gate latch of a safety cell of the apparatus;

Figures 22 to 25 show the control panel during operation of the apparatus; Figure 26 shows a press tool of the apparatus engaging with a spring pack; Figure 27 shows an indicator on the control panel;

Figures 28 and 29 show a manifold for insertion of a retaining insert;

Figures 30 and 31 show the control panel during further operation of the apparatus;

Figure 32 shows the spring pack delivered to a rotator of the apparatus; Figure 33 shows the control panel at rotation of the spring pack;

Figure 34 shows the pack rotated and ready for outbound progression;

Figure 35 shows an indicator on the control panel when four yokes have been completed;

Figure 36 shows an assembled yoke being unloaded by crane;

Figure 37 shows a yoke bench of the apparatus;

Figure 38 shows a side view of the apparatus;

Figure 39 shows detail of rotary and fixed yokes in place on the yoke bench; Figures 40 to 43 show diagrammatic drawings of a hydraulic press of the apparatus;

Figures 44 to 49 show details of a press tool of the hydraulic press;

Figure 50 shows an inline press bench of the apparatus;

Figure 51 shows detailed views of the yoke bench;

Figure 52 shows a yoke bench base;

Figure 53 shows a yoke bench top rear rail, a yoke bench top front rail and a yoke bench top side rail;

Figure 54 shows detail of a yoke bench top;

Figure 55 shows a press attachment;

Figure 56 shows a yoke slip locator;

Figure 57 shows a spring retainer;

Figure 58 shows a yoke spacer;

Figures 59 to 61 show yoke guide plates;

Figure 62 shows a yoke end spacer;

Figure 63 and 64 show yoke guide brackets;

Figure 65 shows a side view of the apparatus from outside the safety cell; Figure 66 shows an end view of a yoke with a follower block located therein; Figure 67 shows an assembled yoke and spring pack being lifted by crane; Figures 68 and 69 show the yoke bench;

Figure 70 shows assembled yokes loaded on a pallet;

Figure 71 shows the rotator through the safety cell;

Figure 72 shows the assembled yoke and spring pack being lifted by crane;

Figure 73 shows detail of retaining inserts;

Figure 74 shows a perspective view of the apparatus;

Figure 75 shows assembled yokes and spring packs on the yoke bench;

Figure 76 shows an operator outside the safety cell;

Figure 77 shows a basic plan view sketch of the apparatus; and

Figure 78 shows detail of a universal locating spigot of the apparatus.

Detailed Description

A rail car absorber assembly apparatus 12 in accordance with an example of the present invention is described with reference to Figures 2 to 78 of the accompanying drawings. Advantageously, the apparatus 12 enables spring packs to be compressed and assembled inside a yoke while an operator remains safely outside a safety cell 13 of the apparatus 12. Furthermore, the apparatus is able to compress spring packs and to assemble them within yokes much quicker than can be done using an existing press 10 as shown in Figure 1. More specifically, with reference to the drawings, the rail car absorber assembly apparatus 12 is arranged to receive an expanded absorber which may be in the form of a spring pack 48. The apparatus 12 has a compression device, for example a hydraulic press 30, for compressing the expanded absorber into a compressed condition. The apparatus 12 also has a feeder for installing retaining inserts in the absorber 48, while the absorber 48 is held in the compressed condition by the compression device 30 to retain the absorber 48 in the compressed condition. The feeder may include feed holes in a press tool 44 of the hydraulic press 30, and may also include part or all of feed tubes (see Figures 26 and 29) which feed these holes in the press tool 44. The retaining inserts may be in the form of "balls" or "dices" as depicted in Figure 29 and Figure 73.

The apparatus 12 is also provided with an insertion device which may itself include table ram 94 (see Figure 37) for inserting the compressed absorber 48 in a rail car yoke 56. In the example depicted in the drawings, the compression device 30, the feeder (including the holes in the press tool 44) and the insertion device 94 are located within the safety barrier 13 such that the apparatus 12 is able to process the expanded absorber 48 and to provide the yoke 56 with the compressed absorber 48 inserted therein, with an operator remaining outside the safety barrier (for example in the position of the operator depicted in Figure 76). The feeder may include a feed arrangement including one or more conduits for automatically locating the retaining inserts 74 in the absorber 48 such that the inserts 74 are effectively located to retain the absorber 48 in the compressed condition. In the example shown in the drawings, these conduits are in the form of transparent tubes or pipes extending from a proximal manifold 72 located next to the operator to the three radially spaced holes in the press tool 44. The radially spaced holes in the press tool 44 are shown in Figures 46 and 49 of the drawings, whereas the conduits in the form of transparent tubes are shown in Figures 26, 28 and 29.

The apparatus 12 also includes a rotation device in the form of rotator 80 (see Figures 37, 41 and 43) for rotating the compressed absorber 48 from an upright configuration in which the absorber 48 is sitting on its end (see Figure 32) to an installation configuration in which the absorber 48 is sitting on its side (see Figure 34). As the absorber is rotated onto its side in this way, the compressed absorber 48 is provided by the apparatus 12 in an orientation in which the absorber 48 is able to be lifted by a magnetic crane (see Figure 36) without increasing compression on the retaining inserts 74 during lifting. Also provided as part of the apparatus 12 shown in the drawings is a support (in the form of yoke bench 88) for locating a plurality of yoke types in adjacent formation (see Figure 39) and aligned at a common level for passing a compressed absorber 48 laterally through one yoke 56 and into an adjacent yoke at the common level. The support 88 may include one or more spigots 86 adapted for supporting the plurality of yoke types at the common level.

With reference to Figure 2, a control panel 16 is located to be accessible from outside the safety cell barrier 13 by an operator. The apparatus 12 may also be arranged to automatically identify different types of absorbers 48 and to automatically control the compression device 30 and/or the insertion device 94 according to the detected absorber type.

With reference to Figure 44, the compression device 30 may include a compression head in the form of press tool 44 mounted pivotally to accommodate uneven protrusion of clutch plates of the absorber 48. This may be achieved by way of the press tool 44 being provided in a two part arrangement wherein the two parts -Si- are coupled by mating spherical surfaces as depicted by the curved line in the cross- section of Figure 44.

As described above, the apparatus 12 may have transparent tubes which form guide channels arranged to feed a retaining insert 74 to the press tool 44. Specifically, the apparatus 12 may have a plurality of separate guide channels, each guide channel being arranged to feed a retaining insert 74 to a different location of the press tool 44, particularly to a different one of the radially spaced holes of the press tool 44. In the example apparatus shown in the drawings, there are three separate guide channels to correspond to the three spaced holes formed in the press tool 44. The guide channels may be arranged to feed a retaining insert 74 to the press tool 44 by gravity such that the operator is able to simply drop the retaining inserts 74 into the top of the tubes at the manifold 72 (see Figures 28 and 29). Advantageously, as the tubes are transparent, the operator is able to use this transparency to check that the retaining inserts travel completely through the tubes and into the compressed spring pack 48. As the manifold 72 is located externally of the safety cell 13 surrounding the apparatus 12, the operator is able to feed the retaining inserts 74 into the tubes without entering the safety cell 13.

With reference to Figures 37, 39 and 78, the apparatus 12 includes a universal locating spigot 86 for locating different types of yoke at a common plane for lateral insertion of the compressed absorber 48. As shown, the apparatus 12 actually includes four universal locating spigots 86 for positively spacing apart the yokes 56, with centres of the adjacent yokes 56 being spaced apart by the width of an absorber 48. Advantageously, this spaces the yokes 56 at the correct spacing such that the compressed spring packs 48 are able to be pushed progressively through the yokes 56 so that, after four cycles, each of the four spring packs 48 is aligned within a respective one of the four yokes 56. In this way, the apparatus 12 is arranged to push a first compressed spring pack 48 via a second compressed spring pack 48 into place, with each of the compressed spring packs 48 being located within a respective yoke 56 at the common level. Examples of the present invention may provide the following features/ advantages:

• Whole machine behind screen

• Dice feed arrangement

• Spigot for retaining and locating a yoke • Assembly table

• Turntable for spring pack

• Eliminate lifting from button when dice are engaged

• Automation panel

· Universal system for yokes

• Universal system for spring packs

• Head on sphere to accommodate clutch plates of spring pack at different levels of protrusion.

The proposed pneumatic system will be entirely pneumatic without any requirement for PLC interface. This includes all cylinders for progression through the system and a control box that has been customised to suit our specific requirements and functions for the system. The pneumatic system supplied will be factory tested for verifying the correct function of the proposed system prior to be dispatched to site. This also includes a comprehensive operations manual. The entire pneumatic system has been designed to be operated from outside an enclosed cell clear of any potential pinch points and moving parts. This will negate the risks currently identified and associated with manual handling during pressing and assembly of packs and yokes.

The hydraulic press is purpose built specifically for draft pack pressing only. With the concept is the inclusion of extra provision of a spring pack rotator that will be required to tilt the compressed packs from the vertical plane to the horizontal. This is required for the final assembly to within a yoke. The rotating mechanism has been designed by us and is engineered and fabricated in-house.

As previously mentioned the entire assembly line will be contained within a safety cell. All cell components are made to conform to Australian standards for enclosed machinery. There will be appropriate cell/guarding interlocks that will prevent any operation of equipment unless all interlocking permissives are meet.

The permissives required for operation are as follows:

1. Sliding Cell door shut and latched (pneumatic switch)

2. Pneumatic foot switch depressed at the console "AND" safety in position button depressed.

All other associated roller tables and infrastructure would be designed and fabricated in house with the existing technician labour and assistance. This proposed system would make the assembly of draft packs safer and more productive.

Accordingly, as will be appreciated from the above, the invention relates to an assembly line machine which re-compresses and assembles 'spring pack' components of rail ore cars. The spring pack component is like suspension which absorbs shock and re-distributes the forces which affect the rail car. The invention is a machine which assembles various load distribution components of an ore car. Normally these components must be manually compressed and assembled which can take over 2 hours of labour. With an example of this invention, the semi-automated assembly process has been able to reduce the labour requirement to 12.5 minutes and has safety implications as a result of reduced manual handling.

The new system has multiple unique components that differentiate from existing methodology. In summary, these include: Pneumatic recognition of the different type packs (this is required to automate the recognition of the packs to prevent an operator having to select different modes for different packs). The inventor identified it was desirable to remove a significant amount of human element in the process such that an operator simply initiates the required sequence and monitors process movement rather than controls everything in the process. The inventor opted for hard controls rather than procedure in all aspects of the pneumatic control system.

Pneumatic rotator for tilting the pack from vertical to the horizontal plane.

Press tool with dice feeding ability externally from the safety cell. The applicant has also engineered a press tool to incorporate replaceable hardened sacrificial pads that are in contact with the pack when pressing.

Universal outbound assembly table that caters for all types of fixed and rotary yokes currently in-service (standard yokes). Advantageously, this enables all yokes to be on the same plane to enable pushing the packs into the yokes.

Universal locating spigot required for locating all the different type yokes on the assembly table. This is required as the different type yokes have different hole sizes and dimensions (the spigot needs to locate the different holes at the same position on the assembly table.) 1. PURPOSE

The following process covers the safe use of the semi-automated draft pack assembly line. The new assembly line has been designed to negate all previous manual handling and operational risks associated with draft pack assembly. 2. SCOPE

Operational function of the assembly line. The process described below covers the following:

• Recompressing of draft spring packs.

• Insertion of the sacrificial ball blockers (dices) that keep the packs compressed.

• Assembly of packs through the automation process into fixed and rotary yokes. (See Figures 11 and 12)

3. DESCRI PTI ON OF WORK

The draft pack assembly line has been designed to operate as a semiautomatic process to remove the requirements for significant manual handling previously required to recompress spring packs and to assemble yokes. The assembly line has a press tool that allows for external feeding of the retaining blockers in the form of sacrificial balls (dice) that are required for keeping the packs compressed. All process equipment is located in a safety cell with full safety interlocks and emergency stop.

The assembly line requires loading of spring packs to be compressed. The assembly line also involves the loading and unloading of new or second hand yokes as well as the unloading of assembled yokes. The loading and unloading requires the use of an overhead travel crane or jib crane and the use of a lifting magnet with a SWL for no less than 500kgs.

The assembly line has a complete pneumatic control and utilises a 150 tonne hydraulic press for recompressing the spring packs. The movement of packs throughout the process is done by a system of pneumatic cylinders and pack rotator. The process is controlled from a main pneumatic control panel located outside of the safety cell. The inbound progression of packs while loading is controlled from the manual load control box that is situated within the safety cell. The manual load control box features a dead man foot activated switch to ensure operator safety while progressing packs during inbound loading. The dead man switch is required to be depressed whenever the inbound progression cylinder is activated in extension or retraction.

The operation of the assembly line through the semi automatic mode is done entirely by push button control. The semi-automated process is controlled from the main control panel situated externally from the safety cell.

The assembly line has been designed to operate in batches of 4 spring packs and 4 yokes. The outbound yoke assembly table is universal and can handle any current configuration of fixed or rotary yoke within the process, this includes multiple variations during a single batch run.

In an alternative form of the invention, the assembly line may have provision for assembly of follower blocks such that the follower blocks are able to be inserted during the semi-automated process.

JOB STEP AND CONTROL METHODS

Job Steps

No. Hazards Controls

1.1 Isolation of Safety Cell and Prestart checks.

There is a requirement to prestart check the following when isolation is completed:

Apply Personal Lock to Emergency Stop

Check Hydraulic oil level when press is retracted. Level should be half way in the sight glass.

Check for visual signs of hydraulic leaks

Check the condition of the press tool, inspect for cracks, loose retaining bolts and visual signs of wear. Report and signs of defect and excessive signs of wear to the Supervisor so as repairs can be carried out.

Check safety cell for signs of defects or damage.

Check sliding gate tracks have not been damaged.

Check safety screens are clean, undamaged and secured.

Check gate latches are fully operational.

Check hydraulic press roller switches for damage.

Check yoke assembly table Yoke in Position Switches for damage.

Inspect for damage to roller or roller arm.

Check both Process complete switches for damage. Check the rollers and roller arms.

Check assembly line structure for any damage or signs of defect. Check that Pneumatic cylinders and guards are not damaged and all guards are in place.

Check that the main control panel handrails are in place and free from damage.

Check rotator pivot bearings are not cracked and rotator moves freely through its rotation. Rotation can be operated by hand when the Estop is activated.

Check that Bollards at the side of the Safety Cell are in place and have not sustained damage.

Check main air supply regulator and drier for damage.

Check that the main air supply is set to minimum 700kpa.

Under no circumstances is the press to be used with damaged press tool pads without assessment and repair by a competent tradesperson. No welding is to be conducted on the press tool or press pads at any time.

Repairs on the hydraulic press, press tool and pneumatic components are only to be carried out by a skilled and competent tradesperson.

Hot works are not to be conducted within the safety cell without the appropriate controls to protect pneumatic components, hoses and piping from fire or heat damage.

If any defects are noted from the above checks they must be notified to the Supervisor

Pinch points, crush hazards Cell to be isolated and an isolation exist at all times inside the lock attached at the E-Stop located safety cell unless properly on the left side of the main control isolated panel.

Prestart done incorrectly or VOC, vigilance, awareness not followed through

(See Figures 10 and 11) Placing pallet of yokes and spring packs for assembly within the demarcated areas with the use of a forklift.

Unintended operation of Isolation of cell as in step 1 equipment in safety cell. Communication

Other work groups Competent operator VOC

Equipment damage to cell Spatial awareness

structure and roller door Keep fork tynes clear of roller door guides guides.

Forklift movements in Forklift to be operated in a safety cell, equipment controlled manner.

failure, poor house keeping

Ensure all rubbish is discarded and kept clear of inside of Cell and surrounding areas

(See Figures 12 to 14) Loading of spring packs into inbound line using overhead jib crane or OHTC: Prior to loadina of packs. CRC Lubrication must be applied between the spring pack clutch plates and the housing and between the button and the clutch plates. Failure to lubricate will result in excessive tonnage rates required for the press.

There is a requirement that packs must be loaded in the correct orientation in the inbound line. Miner and Endurance draft packs need the single clutch plate oriented to the right.

This involves loading packs into the inbound line loading slot. Once a pack is loaded into the loading slot the crane is moved clear of the pack and the operator places a foot on the dead man switch and presses the Enable and Start Button. There is only a requirement to press the Enable and Start button momentarily. This will progress the pack clear of the loading slot to allow subsequent pack loading (there are only 4 spring packs to be loaded for each cycle). There is a requirement to keep a foot on the Dead man throughout extension and retraction of the cylinder, failure to do so will stop extension or retraction. If issues are experienced with the cylinder not returning to the home position to allow subsequent pack loading, Press the Reset button prior to leaving the cell.

Cuts and abrasions, head PPE gloves and hard hat

injury, rigging and lifting Equipment Prestart.

gear failure, pinch points Competent operator

crush injury

Situational awareness

Equipment damage.

Slow and controlled crane Pneumatic inbound cylinder movements at all times.

movement

. When progressing packs the manual

Pack loaded in the incorrect control box foot switch (dead man) orientation. must be depressed. The dead man

Damaged spring pack switch is situated clear of any pinch

points

All Miner packs must be loaded with * the single clutch plate to the right hand side.

(See Figure 16 to 19) Loading yokes onto assembly line:

Note: the top of all yokes must be level and in line before process is started. Rotary Yokes must never be placed upside down on the assembly table.

Rotary collars must be inserted prior to placing on the assembly table. The rotary collars must be placed with the coupler pin retaining stops facing up to allow correct location over the assembly table spigots. Failure to do so will not allow yokes to sit level on the table and will prevent a cycle start permissive.

Cuts and abrasions. PPE gloves and hard hat.

Head injury Slow controlled crane and item Equipment damage. movements at all times. Pack seated incorrectly on Ensure yoke is located correctly on assembly line the front spigot and between the

Crush injury. back strap guide plates.

Faulty yoke. . Visual inspection of yoke must be

Poor housekeeping. carried out prior to loading. If a defect exists remove the yoke from the assembly process.

Ensure all rubbish is discarded from * the safety cell.

(See Figures 20 and 21) Close sliding gate in preparation for starting automated assembly. Ensure gate is latched correctly.

Pinch points on sliding gate. Awareness, use the handle on the Crane not placed in home gate for closing. PPE as required. position away from moving Crane placed in home position clear parts of assembly line moving parts.

(See Figures 22 and 23) Removal of Personal lock isolation:

Loading incomplete. Ensure all loading has been

Poor housekeeping prior to completed prior to isolation leaving the cell removal.

Ensure cell and surrounding area is kept clear and all rubbish is discarded.

(See Figure 22) Start conditions enabling:

Ensure all 3 start conditions at the top of the control panel have Green Pneumatic indicators displayed. The following conditions should be met to allow Start Conditions Enabled

Main air supply turned on.

• Emergency stop disengaged.

Yokes in position. (Pneumatic indicator shows green when yokes are in the correct position.)

. Sliding gate closed and latched. (Pneumatic indicator shows green when closed correctly.)

Reset button pressed. Reset will ensure all cylinders are returned to home position prior to Starting. If a step in the process is out of home position, Cycle start will not be enabled.

Hydraulic pump running. (Pneumatic indicator shows green when hydraulic pump is running.) If not running press the Pump start button.

No hazards exist for this step.

(See Figure 23) Process Start:

Press Process Start button to initiate first process. When process start is pressed the permissive indicator for Inbound Progression Ready is illuminated. When the indicator is illuminated press Start Pack progression. This step will progress the 4 packs forward to the inbound the end stop.

The Pack progression indicator will remain illuminated until the cylinder returns to its home position. When the inbound cylinder returns home the next step will automatically illuminate

Foreign objects and crane Ensure all foreign items are clear. pendant / magnet are not Ensure crane and pendant are clear clear of assembly line of process equipment.

Constant vigilance during assembly process.

(See Figure 24) Press progression:

Press the start press progress button. On completion of the press progression being completed and when the cylinder returns to its home position the Extend press enabled indicator will illuminate.

Pack misalignment or pack Ensure 1.8 is followed.

getting caught. • Vigilance throughout process.

Supervisor contacted.

(See Figure 25 and 26) Press extension:

Note: If a pack is presented to the press in the incorrect orientation a pneumatic indicator will illuminate Pack Not Present / Pack incorrect orientation. In this instance the extend press sequence will be bypassed and rotator delivery will be enabled

Press the Extend Press button when the Extend press Enabled indicator is illuminated. When the press is extended the press tool will engage the 3 clutch plates of the pack. The press will continue extending until the pre-set press depth has been achieved. In normal circumstances a typical press will achieve between 350 and 500 Bar on the press pressure gauge. If pressures are being experienced in the Black Zone of the gauge, press the Press Bypass to discard the affected pack from pressing process. Press Bypass will allow a permissive to rotator delivery Onlv.

Pack and press misEnsure that the pack appears alignment with the press aligned and visually central to the tool. hydraulic press tool. If not central

Equipment damage. press bypass press. The bypass

Pack incorrect orientation will allow permissive straight to with Press tool rotator delivery.

If the pack has been loaded in the incorrect orientation a pneumatic switch senses the incorrect orientation bypasses pressing operation and only allows rotator delivery automatically. In this instance follow the green permissives until process is completed.

If issues arise through this step the emergency stop can be activated at any time. This will freeze the step and allow external visual assessment. Resetting the Estop will permit continuation of the process.

(See Figures 27 to 29) Ball insertion:

When the Hydraulic press has reached its press limit and the Ball feed indicator will illuminate. I nsert the Balls into the compressed pack using the ball feeder manifold. Only Insertion of 1 ball in each tube is permitted.

Ball caught in tube. Visually inspect the clear poly tubes Ball feed into tube prior to to ensure ball is not caught in the press limit being achieved. feed tubes.

Tool misalignment not Only feed balls in when stroke limit allowing ball feed. is achieved and pneumatic indicator illuminates.

. Vigilance throughout process to ensure press process is smooth and tool alignment etc. is O.K.

If issues arise through the pressing process, press the Bypass press button and press will retract. When the press has retracted the rotator delivery indicator will be illuminated to reject the affected pack. A thorough assessment must be made prior to pressing other packs and the issues rectified prior to continuing.

Emergency stop can also be activated at any time through the process. This will halt any further pressing of the affected pack.

Resetting the E-Stop after visual assessment will allow the process to continue as originally commanded.

(See Figure 30) Press Retract:

On completion of Ball feeding, press the Retract Press button. This step will retract the press to its home position.

Pack or press tool caught Ensure the press retracts freely to up its home position.

If issues are experienced through this step the Emergency stop can be activated. This will freeze the movement to allow visual assessment. On completion of assessment the emergency stop can be reset and the step will continue as originally commanded.

(See Figures 31 and 32) Rotator delivery:

On completion of the press retracting and when the Rotator Delivery Enabled indicator is illuminated, press the Start Rotator Delivery button. This will deliver the pack to the rotator.

Ensure the pack is moving freely. If issues are experienced through this step the Emergency stop can be activated. This will freeze the movement to allow visual assessment. On completion of assessment the emergency stop can be reset and the step will continue as originally commanded.

(See Figure 33) Pack Rotate:

On Completion of the Pack being delivered to the rotator and when the Pack Rotate Enable pneumatic indicator is illuminated, Press the Start Pack Rotate button. This will rotate the pack to horizontal to allow insertion into the yokes stacked on the outbound assembly table.

Pack rotator not moving Ensure the pack rotator moves smoothly. freely through the rotation process.

The E-stop in this scenario will allow the rotator to continue rotating in a slow controlled and retarded state to the horizontal plane.

After visual inspection the E stop can be reset and the next step can be followed.

(See Figures 34 and 35) Outbound Progression:

On completion of the pack being rotated the Outbound Progression Enabled indicator will be illuminated. Press the Start Outbound Pack Progression button.

On completion of four assembled yokes being completed on the outbound assembly table an indicator next to the reset button will illuminate signifying the process is completed. At this point no further packs can be completed until the assembled yokes are unloaded and the table is restocked with new yokes.

Packs jamming in yokes. • Vigilance, awareness.

• At Any stage through outbound progression an Estop can be activated. After visual inspection the E-stop can be reset and the progression will continue as previously commanded

1.16 Assembly of subsequent yokes with packs in the process is done by Starting from step 1.7 until all 4 cycles are completed

Hazards as per steps from

1.7

1.17 Assembly of new or already compressed spring packs into yokes:

As there is no requirement to press new packs the press extend step can be bypassed. When the press progress step has been completed press the Pack Press Bypass button. This will bypass the pressing function and allow rotator delivery. Single or multiple New or already compressed packs to be assembled into yokes will require Pack Press Bypass to be activated.

Unfam iliarity with the • Operator VOC. Vigilance and process awareness.

1.18 (See Figure 36) Unloading of assembled yokes:

On completion of production run. This will require placing a pallet outside of the door of the safety cell to stack completed assembled yokes. The Overhead crane or assembly line jib crane is used with a 500KG magnet for this process.

Crane and rigging failure. Prestart check of crane and rigging Poor housekeeping. Magnet prior to use.

Pinch points, cuts and Ensure all rubbish is discarded from abrasions. the safety cell.

Yokes binding up on the PPE gloves hard hat, awareness assembly table. Ensure that load is rigged at the Load shift. centre of gravity and lifted in a smooth and controlled manner.

Controlled lifting.

Accordingly, in summary, the process of using the apparatus is as follows:

1. Operator loads four spring packs on the inbound conveyor with packs facing small window to the draft press.

2. Operator loads four yokes on the outbound conveyor with yokes loaded into pre-set loading positions.

3. Operator stands at console with all cell doors shut. Only one operator is to be in the safety cell.

4. Operator initiates progression of inbound conveyor. Cylinder extends until the first pack hits limit valve.

5. Operator initiates cylinder to push into press. When the cylinder retracts, a permissive is given to press pack. 6. Operator initiates press to full extent (compressing pack to allow ball insertion) .

7. When the spring pack is compressed, operator inserts three balls in the insertion lines, that is one ball in each line. The operator verifies that each ball is inserted visually through the respective clear plastic tube.

8. Operator initiates retraction of press cylinder to home position.

9. Operator initiates cylinder to push compressed pack to pack rotator.

10. When pack rotator pneumatic limit registers pack in place on rotator, permissive is given to rotate pack.

11. Operator initiates pack rotate.

12. When pack is registered in rotated horizontal position permissive is given to progress pack to outbound conveyor (assembly area).

13. Once four complete cycles have been achieved, the packs are stacked on a pallet.

14. The pallet is cleared and four new yokes are stacked on the outbound conveyor.

15. Operator loads four new spring packs on the inbound conveyor.

16. Operator starts sequence again.

Existing Draft Pack Assembly Line - Original system issues and hazards Problems with the existing methodology of using a press 10 as in Figure 1 include the following:

Excessive and strenuous manual handling

Risk of projectiles (dices shattering)

Original press not built for purpose

High risk of injury from pinch points

No standardised work practice of building packs

Required excessive resources

Work area difficult to keep tidy

Large footprint

No other options in the market

Demand: 1700 units per year Improved Draft Pack Assembly Line

In comparison to the above issues and hazards of the existing assembly line, an example apparatus in accordance with the present invention provides the following advantages:

Semi automated: No physical interaction within the process.

All previous risks mitigated

All steps fully interlocked

The new draft pack assembly line features the following:

Safety cell, fully interlocked.

Sequential pneumatic control / push button controlled

Safety screens

Pneumatic cylinders to progress

Universal assembly table

Full pneumatic E-stop

Dice fed from outside of the cell

Total cost significantly less than outsourcing

In one example, the proposed pneumatic system will be entirely pneumatic without any requirement for PLC interface. This includes all cylinders for progression through the system and a control box that has been customised to suit specific requirements and functions for the system. The pneumatic system supplied will be factory tested for verifying the correct function of the proposed system prior to be dispatched to site. This also includes a comprehensive operations manual supplied by the factory. The entire pneumatic system has been designed to be operated from outside an enclosed cell clear of any potential pinch points and moving parts. This will negate the risks currently identified and associated with manual handling during pressing and assembly of packs and yokes.

The hydraulic press may be purpose built specifically for draft pack pressing only. With the concept is the inclusion of extra provision of a spring pack rotator that will be required to tilt the compressed packs from the vertical plane to the horizontal. This is required for the final assembly to within a yoke. The entire assembly line will be contained within the safety cell. All safety cell components are made to conform to Australian standards for enclosed machinery. There will be appropriate cell/guarding interlocks that will prevent any operation of equipment unless all interlocking permissives are met. The permissives required for operation are as follows:

1. Sliding Cell door shut and latched (pneumatic switch)

2. Pneumatic foot switch depressed at the console "AND" safety in position button depressed.

All other associated roller tables and infrastructure would be designed and fabricated in house with the existing technician labour and assistance.

By way of further explanation, Figures 40 and 41 show front and side views of the hydraulic press 30. In Figure 41, there is shown a rotator ram 96 which serves to push the upright spring packs 48 into the hydraulic press 30 and then, once compressed, from the hydraulic press 30 into the rotator 80. Similarly, Figures 42 and 43 show front and side views of the hydraulic press 30, also depicting the rotator 80 as well as a cylinder 98 for operating the rotator 80.

Figure 50 shows the in-line press bench 102 which houses the in-bound pack progression 28 as shown in Figure 2.

Detail of the yoke bench 88 is shown with reference to Figures 51 to 64. In particular, Figures 51(a) to (d) show top, front, end and perspective views of the yoke bench 88. Figure 52(a) shows a top view of the yoke bench base 104, showing location of the yoke slip locators 120 as well as locations of the spring retainers 122 which are used for retaining the springs fitted to each of the spigots 86 (see Figure 37). Figure 52(b) shows detail of the spigot support rail 108 of the yoke bench base 104, a perspective view of which is shown in Figure 52(c).

Figures 54(a) to (e) show various views of the yoke bench top 106, whereas Figures 53(a) to (c) show detailed views of the various components of the yoke bench top 106. In particular, Figure 53(a) shows the yoke bench top rear rail 110, Figure 53(b) shows the yoke bench top front rail 112, and Figure 53(c) shows the yoke bench top side rail 114. Figure 54(f) shows a perspective view of the yoke bench top 106. With reference to Figures 55(a) to (e), there are shown various views of the press attachment 116 which is used to mount the table ram 94 as shown in Figure 37.

Figures 56(a) to 56(c) show detail of the yoke slip locator 120, whereas Figures 57(a) to 57(c) show detail of the spring retainer 122.

Figures 58(a) and 58(b) show top and side views of the yoke spacer 124.

Figure 59(a) to 59(c) show top, front and edge views of the yoke guide plate 126. Similarly, Figures 60(a) to 60(c) show top, front and edge views of the yoke guide plate end 128, and Figures 61(a) to 61(c) show top, front and edge views of the yoke guide plate front 130. Figures 62(a) and 62(b) show top and side views of the yoke end spacer 132, whereas Figures 63(a) and 63(b) show front and edge views of the yoke guide bracket Part A 134. Yoke guide bracket Part B 134 is shown in Figure 64.

While various embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not by way of limitation. It will be apparent to a person skilled in the relevant art that various changes in form and detail can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, the present invention should not be limited by any of the above described exemplary embodiments.

The reference in this specification to any prior publication (or information derived from it), or to any matter which is known, is not, and should not be taken as an acknowledgment or admission or any form of suggestion that that prior publication (or information derived from it) or known matter forms part of the common general knowledge in the field of endeavour to which this specification relates.

Throughout this specification and the claims which follow, unless the context requires otherwise, the word "comprise", and variations such as "comprises" and "comprising", will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other integer or step or group of integers or steps. Features List

Press 10

Apparatus 12

Safety Cell 13 Ball feeder 14

Main control panel 16

Outbound progression cylinder 18

Outbound yoke assembly table 20

Pack rotator 22 Dead man switch 24

Manual load control 26

Inbound pack progression 28

Hydraulic press 30

Control panel 32 Emergency Stop button 34

Main isolator with main pressure regulator 36

Hydraulic oil level 38

Process complete switches 40

Press tool pads 42 Press tool 44

Yoke in position switch 46

Spring pack 48

Single clutch plate 50

Foot switch 52 Lifting magnet 54

Yoke 56

Gate latch 58

Permissives 60

Process Start Button 62 Start Pack Progression Button 64

Start Press Progress Button 66

Extend Press Button 68

Ball Feed When Green Indicator 70

Manifold 72 Ball/lnsert/Dice 74

Retract Press Button 76

Start Rotator Delivery Button 78

Rotator 80

Start Pack Rotate Button 82 Indicator to show when four yokes

have been completed 84

Spigot 86

Yoke bench 88 Spacer 90

Tapered divider 92

Table ram 94

Rotator ram 96

Cylinder 98 Pneumatic cylinder guide 100

Inline press bench 102

Yoke bench base 104

Yoke bench top 106

Spigot support 108 Yoke bench top rear rail 110

Yoke bench top front rail 112

Yoke bench top side rail 114

Press attachment 116

Press attachment cross-member 118 Yoke slip locator 120

Spring retainer 122

Yoke spacer 124

Yoke guide plate 126

Yoke guide plate end 128 Yoke guide plate front 130

Yoke end spacer 132

Yoke guide brackets 134

Follower block 136

Feed ram 138