Thomas Yard infrastructure

We have helped to improve essential support infrastructure for a leading Western Australian iron ore mining operation.

As the Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) was expanding its business, they set a target to export 155 million tonnes per year of iron ore by June 2013. As part of this plan, they needed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) consultant to design and deliver support infrastructure for the main railway yard.


Fortescue wholly owns and operates its rail and port facilities, which were constructed to deliver iron ore from their mines to Port Hedland and then to the world market.


The main scope of this project included the design and construction of a new rail car maintenance workshop, delivered under an EPCM-type contract, as well as a range of other new facilities, including an upgrade to the existing maintenance workshop and the construction of an administration centre for 140 staff.


Automation Drives Success

WSP designed and delivered the railway yard project. We ensured that the design, procurement analysis, tendering, and tender recommendations were all completed on schedule.


We developed new concepts with asset management analysis underpinning the design and the delivery methodology. Our main innovation was to recognise that we could use automation for the maintenance of standardised ore cars with standardised schedules. This made it possible to create the design in a similar way to an automated manufacturing line.


To communicate this, we decided to use robotics lines for vehicle manufacturing as an analogy. Blocks of 30 ore cars are automatically moved through the shop using a computer-based progression system with millimetre accuracy. Ore cars are maintained based on a combination of predictive and experiential time-based preventative maintenance schedules. The accurate progression system design lends itself to future higher levels of automation at each individual workstation.


Key Achievements

By introducing automation to the railway yard, we saved our client maintenance time and cost and improved safety and productivity.