Australian made

When BHP undertook a major bridge renovation project on a railway line serving its mining facilities in Western Australia, it required that all of the structural bearings be fully manufactured in Australia – and mageba was happy to oblige.

As the largest mining company in the world by market capitalisation, Melbourne-based BHP depends heavily on the network of railway lines that serve its mining facilities throughout Australia, transporting enormous quantities of the materials needed by the world’s developed and developing economies. So when the bridges on these railway lines require to be renovated, disruption to rail traffic must be kept to an absolute minimum. Consequently, bridge renovation works must be planned in great detail and with a very strong focus on reliability – with respect to the supply and installation of the bearings in particular, as well as in relation to long-term performance once installed.

Railway bridge renovation project

The current project to replace hundreds of bearings on the BHP Newman Main Line in Western Australia was launched in July 2020 with a request for proposals that placed an accordingly strong emphasis on the requirement for high reliability in the supply, installation and performance of the bearings. However, an equally strong emphasis was placed on the requirement that the bearings be designed, fabricated and tested in Australia. When the contracts for the first sections of the work were awarded in 2021, following a thorough evaluation process, a very tight delivery schedule was also specified, with the 240 bearings needed for the first section required to be delivered to site by the end of the year.

Bearing replacement work

The project called for the replacement of the bridge’s existing pot bearings using new spherical bearings. While every bearing replacement project presents challenges that do not arise where a bridge is being constructed new (dimensional, access, traffic, etc.), the design challenge is increased where the new bearings are not of the same type as the original. However, with extensive experience on bearing replacement projects all around the world over a period of several decades – including on critical railway structures such as the Inter-Terminal Transit System of London‘s Gatwick Airport – mageba was able to demonstrate to the client its competence in serving projects such as this. 

Following a greatly expedited design and manufacturing process – which was not helped by the materials supply and transportation challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic – the required RESTON®SPHERICAL bearings were tested as specified at mageba’s NATA- and NACE-accredited in-house testing facility in Sydney. They were then transported to site, and installed during the very limited track closures that were available. The client’s kind acknowledgement of our team’s efforts in making this project run so smoothly – noting their diverse skills and competence, their collaborative approach and the “supreme quality” of the supplied bearings – made these efforts more than worthwhile and leave us eagerly looking forward to the next BHP project we will be able to support.

Engineering services: BG&E
Contractor: Monadelphous Group Limited
Owner: BHP

One of the railway bridges on the BHP Newman Main Line in Western Australia, the bearings of which have recently been replaced by mageba RESTON®SPHERICAL bearings

Each of the hundreds of bearings supplied for the BHP Newman Main Line in Western Australia bears the triangular “AUSTRALIAN MADE” logo

The required RESTON®SPHERICAL bearings (here showing the lower parts of several bearings prior to corrosion protection and assembly) were fully fabricated in mageba’s Australian factory

Application of special bearing-quality silicone grease to the sliding surfaces of a bearing of the fixed type, following placing of the bearing’s central calotte on the lower part

Preparation of a fixed bearing’s upper part for placing (upside down) on top of the bearing’s lower part and its central calotte

Assembly of bearings (here of the fixed type) in mageba’s factory in New South Wales

Preparation of the fully fabricated bearings for transport to site (here showing bearings of the sliding type, designed to accommodate superstructure movements)

Testing of the manufactured bearings was carried out, under client supervision, at mageba’s NATA-accredited testing facility in Sydney

One of the 240 supplied RESTON®SPHERICAL bearings following installation to replace an existing bearing of a different type