New connection a revolution for the mining and construction industry

Western Australian company Yenem Engineering Services has unveiled a ‘game changing’ connection which will transform the mining, engineering and construction sector in the future.

The connection, known asaltCONNECT, could potentially save tens of millions of dollars in steelwork erection each year.

The new approach challenges the current manufacturing methods used to construct mining structures where sections and plates are bolted and welded together.

AltCONNECT joins primary structural members like beams and columns together without bolts or welds. It instead relies on friction to withstand loads and forces.

Normally a structure is traditionally built out of steel structural beams, columns and bracing – all individual items. They are erected one by one, and bolted together, erected piece by piece using cranes, scaffolders and riggers.

Principal Structural Engineer and Company Director Dave Meney said Yenem’s connection was different because it’s not just a connection, it’s a structural system that goes together without any bolts and welds.

“It therefore doesn’t require the extensive scaffolding and rigging that a conventional structure would require,” said Mr Meney. “I think it will be a game changer for the construction industry and the mining industry.

“It’s going to dramatically reduce the speed of erection. If you’ve got a junction between a column and a beam, you’ve got the option of using this connection. If you’ve got three beams coming into it, same deal. That’s the game changer. No bolts or welds.”

Now components can be produced quickly, to the required tolerance and in any shape or form that is needed.

“3D printing might have started with plastic toys and trinkets, but the technology has advanced to printing metal components,” Mr Meney said.

“Current technology limits the size of steel components but AM (Additive Manufacturing) technologies are being continually improved and the available build space in all systems will certainly continue to grow, changing the way we make and build things.”

The new connection challenges the status quo and will revolutionise the industry. This way of thinking is something Mr Meney has done since graduating from Curtin University 30 years ago.

“Just because something has been done a particular way in the past isn’t a reason to keep doing it that way,” Mr Meney said.

“We’re ready to integrate the connection into structural analysis software – allowing structural engineers all over the world to put the altCONNECT system to the test and discover the benefits it can bring to their structures.”

The new connection will be integrated with the Akselos software, bringing altCONNECT into structural design offices around the world.

Akselos Integra, a revolutionary new engineering simulation platform, makes it possible to analyse complex parts in a fraction of the time that conventional Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software can.

Co-founder and CTO of Akselos, Dr David Knezevic says he is excited to work with Yenem to bring altCONNECT into structural design offices around the world, with the software used in aerospace, mining, oil & gas and power systems.

“Akselos provides cloud-based software for simulation of large-scale engineering systemand routinely provides 1000x speedup compared to conventional finite element analysis (FEA) without compromising accuracy,” Dr Knezevic said.

“Our software will make Meney’s connection concept a reality and we’re thrilled to be a part of this paradigm shift in construction technology”.

Mr Meney said the connection has tremendous benefits including:

  • Faster construction: Fewer elements in construction process. New connection not needing any bolts or welds, rapidly increasing erection times.
  • Lower cost: Reduced time on site means lower labour and equipment hire costs
  • Increased safety of fitters through reduced connection labour, less human involvement in construction.
  • Better access for maintenance: The structural system doesn’t require bracing, meaning better access for maintenance in mining structures.
  • Easier installation: Ability to pre-install equipment such as chutes and screens.
  • Reduced fabrication errors: 3D-printed components can be prepared to exacting tolerances so pieces fit perfectly together during construction.
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