The Accelerated Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), a Federal Government initiative, has recognised WA-based engineering house Segnut Pty Ltd (SPL) with funding to support its latest innovation in a growing range of solutions that improve safety and productivity when maintaining ground engaging tools (GET).
SPL’s Segnut FIRST removes the need for an external reaction arm on the nut runner, significantly improving safety by removing the hand/finger crush risk that these tools present.
SPL specialises in applications related to heavy duty industrial retainers and fasteners. Its flagship product, Segnut, eliminates the need to cut seized nuts off bolts or studs, and has recently been adopted by BHP to eliminate hot works fire risk on fixed plants.
Removing and replacing wear parts on a wide range of mobile and fixed plants is a daily maintenance procedure across multiple industries. It brings with it a raft of health and safety risks – and enormous opportunity for productivity improvements. Since inception, one of the company’s core target market sectors has been GET change-outs on mobile plants.
Extended rattle gun use over time is a leading cause of Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (White Knuckle). The alternative – the nut runner – removes this hazard and provides more accurate torque management on joints. As such, it is often the preferred solution to HAVS exposure. It brings its own risks though in the form of pinch risk due to the external reaction arm.
SPL has overcome both risks with the development of its Segnut FIRST tool, which is now in the final stages of field trials with BHP. The tool internalises the reaction element of the torque, removing the crush hazard as well as making it far more usable, especially at heights and in confined spaces. Importantly, Segnut FIRST works with any nut runner tool, ensuring that legacy equipment investments are not lost.
Development of the product has been partly funded by a grant from the AMGC, which recognised the opportunity to fundamentally improve the safety of technicians using high-torque tooling to install and remove threaded fasteners on equipment such as mobile plant GET.
Of particular interest to AMGC was the ability of the tool to make the use of nut runners feasible in environments that have to date been seen as impracticable, such as confined spaces and work at heights. The removal of the reaction arms from the equation is a fundamental shift in the technology and has the potential to see impact wrenches phased out of a wide variety of uses, bringing the benefit of reduction in vibration-related injuries.
An added advantage is it’s relatively lightweight and easy to handle compared to an external reaction arm tool. This appealed to the AMGC assessors as it makes the use of these tools feasible for a far broader potential workforce – a growing issue for all industry sectors as older workers and women become a greater proportion of the technical crews on-site.
According to SPL’s Director of Product Development, Tom Baskovich, the combination of the two products changes the game in terms of safe maintainability of heavy plants.
“Good engineering has always been about looking past the status quo and asking, ‘what if?’. Our solutions tap into the expertise of end users and then come at the problem from a new angle,” Mr Baskovich said.
“Segnut FIRST, was developed as a direct response to the issue of crush injuries raised by practitioners looking for a means of eliminating them. The AMGC grant will assist in its refinement and commercialisation.”
SPL Managing Director, David Izzard, said that he anticipates seeing Segnut FIRST available to the broader market in early 2021.
“It’s a continuation of our ongoing pursuit of clever ideas to solve safety and productivity problems that to date have been seen as just too hard,” Mr Izzard said.
He also said that the use of the Segnut FIRST in tandem with the Segnut significantly improves the productivity of plant maintenance, while removing a range of inherent hazards from the workplace.
Quarrying industry leader, Boral, was awarded the QIA Safety and Productivity award in 2019 for its adoption of Segnut in its operations, and BHP’s adoption is yet another example of the major players using innovation to improve the safety of their workforces while improving performance.
Segnut has also been installed on fixed plant on a selection of Rio Tinto’s operating mines and on a mobile plant at one of its major new construction sites in the Pilbara, the latter specifically to address hand laceration injuries on cutting edge change-outs.
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