By Nigel Lotz, General Manager of Operations, GrainCorp
Stackers cut an impressive presence on a receival site and although you probably wouldn’t want to be stuck behind one in traffic, they’re one of our most critical assets during a busy harvest.
Each year, our fleet of stackers shifts millions of tonnes of grain on to stockpiles at our sites across Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
There’s no easier way to unload that grain from truck trailers onto bunkers – so when you see a big golden mountain of grain sitting on site, you know how it got there.
But a big harvest tends to require a big recovery, and after beating over 60 receival records at our sites in the 2020/21 harvest, our teams have refurbishing the fleet firmly in their sights.
As a result, we’ve launched a major overhaul program across our east coast network that will update and improve our stackers before the next harvest rolls around.
So, what does that work involve?
There are over 200 stackers across GrainCorp’s storage and receival network and they’re split into three types: VIC Grain, SCE and WA stackers.
‘Overhauling’ means individually assessing the stackers; conducting major maintenance on the machinery; and upgrading the technology for ease of operation and access.
Our maintenance team undertakes preventative works annually on our stacker fleet, but the overhaul program will individually assess and complete upgrades on half of the SCE and WA stackers by the start of the 2021/22 harvest.
The remainder will be completed over the next three years.
Clearly, the overhaul project is no mean feat, which is why it’s split into two projects, with separate teams working hard to get things up to scratch.
One team is centred on long-term changes to improve the fleet’s reliability, while working with our regional maintenance teams to reduce machine downtime.
The second is focused on the human interface; improving training and signage on the stackers to make them easier for our site staff to operate and integrating QR codes for instructions and safety procedures.
We’re crucially aware of the role we play in the supply chain from paddock to plate and in monetising a grower’s grain.
That’s why we want to ensure it’s a smooth ride up the conveyor belt and onto the bunker, so that the delivering trucks can get back to the paddock as quickly as possible.
Combining our preventative maintenance works with a major overhaul program will ensure our hardest-working machines will continue to serve us for many harvests to come.