By Michelle SlaterLOY Yang A has developed an innovative way to improve work and safety at the power station ash ponds with the help of a 65-tonne floating excavator officially named “Arthur”. The Caterpillar 336 excavator has been the result of a four-year problem-solving exercise to find equipment capable of operating on the ash pond soft surface. AGL chief operating officer Markus Brokhof said the excavator would be a huge benefit for Loy Yang workers. Mr Brokhof said Arthur was named after a long serving RTL supervisor. “It’s been a long time in the making but we’re excited to have found a machine that can withstand the unique surface and environment of an ash pond,” Mr Brokhof said. “We’ve seen machines become bogged on the ash pond but Arthur will create a safer working environment as it’s specially equipped to handle this environment.” Mr Brokhof said Arthur can operate in four-metre deep water, and is decked-out with custom built tracks, pontoons and stabilising spears to help it operate it when it is submerged. “The low-bearing pressure means that the more the excavator sinks into the wet ash surface, the more it floats. It’s a truly innovative way to combat an ongoing issue for our people,” he said. Arthur’s amphibious underbody and long reach boom were manufactured by EIK Malaysia and commissioned onsite by William Adams Traralgon. AGL will operate the excavator for at least ten years and has ensured it is equipped with safety features to minimise risks including handrails, fire safety equipment and a lift to the main cabin. Coal ash is removed from the ash ponds at the power station into licensed disposal sites in line with Environment Protection Authority regulatory requirements.