Case Studies

These case studies illustrate how Alcoa is acting upon its commitment to sustainable development throughout the world. We are pleased with this progress, but look forward to achieving even more.

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Traditional web method

New lifting jig


Australia - 2008

Employee-Developed Solution Reduces Safety Risks, Improves Efficiencies


Recognizing there was an industry-wide safety and efficiency issue with how large bearings used in mining equipment were lifted, Alcoa's Western Australia Mining Group engaged crew members to design, fabricate, and test a new lifting jig that has since earned recognition for being an innovative industry solution.

Within Alcoa's Australian mining operation, hundreds of bearings used in large equipment like crushers and conveyers need to be changed on a periodic basis. Many of these bearings weigh more than 20 kilograms (44 pounds), a weight beyond that safely lifted by the average individual.

Traditional lifting techniques used within the mining industry include web and wire slings or lightweight chains that are slip-knotted around the bearing and then connected to an overhead crane, which handles the lifting. An inherent safety issue is the potential for the bearing to slip when transitioning from a vertical to horizontal position or when tension on the line is lessened. In addition, the traditional lifting techniques require the bearing to be completely clean, which adds time to the maintenance process.

During a hazard identification exchange at a routine safety summit in 2008, Alcoa's mining group discussed the bearing lifting issue and devised a preliminary solution. Crew members then drafted drawings and built a prototype lifting jig, which tested successfully. An Alcoa engineer evaluated the solution and generated engineering drawings to ensure standards were met.

The new lifting jig uses a metal band that wraps around the outside of the bearing. A bolt permits fine adjustment to keep the bearing from slipping out of the band. The top section of the jig has a horizontal bar containing an eye hook for connection to the crane. As tension is applied to this bar, the band around the bearing tightens even further.

In addition to addressing the safety issues, the new jig also brings efficiencies to the process by making it easier to position the bearing during installation and not requiring the bearing to be completely clean.

In 2008, the jig earned a "highly commended" in the Innovative Mining Solutions category of the Australian Mining Prospect Awards.