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Justin Somerset


I wake up to my phone buzzing in the corner of my room. Its hump day and its early, but I always look forward to a full day out on site. I roll out of bed, throw on my uniform, brush my teeth and head out to the kitchen. I’m not very functional in the morning so I throw together my standard banana and berry smoothie to drink on the way to work. Fortunately, my poor housemate manages to sleep through the roar of the blender every morning.


Today we are off to a mine site 15 minutes’ drive from the town I live in to complete a dragline condition audit; a dragline is one of the largest earth moving machines in the world. I am preparing the mechanical scope for an upcoming major shutdown and BMA’s 26 operating machines have a 12 hour outage once a month. As a dragline shutdown engineer we are based in the Central Queensland Office (CQO), but we prepare shutdowns for all machines across Queensland Coal sites. Just as I tie my laces my colleague pulls up and we are off to site.


The morning pre-start kicks off at 6:00am to discuss the safety focus, the major maintenance items and condition on the roads for the day. Just prior to starting I catch a supervisor who will give us a lift down to the machine. Everyone funnels into the room and sits quietly as the supervisors run through all the agenda items. After 20 minutes everyone signs attendance and we are on our way to the machine. We pull up away from the parked machine in pit to find it ready for maintenance on a pre-prepared pad.

Travel to the Machine


By the time we have locked on to the isolated machine (isolation ensures the machine is safely turned off) and prepared our audit checklists we are ready to start our inspections. We start at the bottom with a visual review of the tub condition and signs of obvious damage. 

Visual Review


We work our way up through the machine house where I check off all mechanical scope items including the gearing, rope drums, lubrication system, cranes, winches, fans, walkways, guarding and the operators cab. The electrical engineer I’m working with covers off his scope items while also coaching me through the electrical upgrades he has flagged for this machine. With the dragline being over 40 years old we have picked up a number of opportunities for repair and upgrade in 18 months’ time.   


By 11:30 I can hear food calling, we make our way down to the mobile crib huts and I enjoy last night’s left overs and a good catch up over a coffee.


Recharged we head back out to machine to cover the large external components including the boom, mast and roof for electrical and structural defects. My favorite inspection area for the day is at the tip of the boom which rises approximately 70m above the ground giving some great views down the machine and across the mining pit. Although an impressive view, it’s an important area sometimes left off sites’ inspection lists due to the climb.

Justin inspecting

Throughout the day I’ll speak with multiple work groups to see how their work front is progressing and whether there are any opportunities to improve the way we do things. These conversations usually lead me to understand more about the current issues and some of the maintainability challenges our fitters face ‘on the floor’.

Justin speaking with work groups


Finishing our field work for the day we jump into a vehicle heading back up to the site offices. I catch up with this site’s engineers to discuss our findings and chat all things draglines including key components to be included in scope. This stakeholder management is an important part of being an engineer and getting the data we need.

We sit down and open up our laptops for the last hour of the day to answer emails and start recording today’s data; however most of this will get left for the coming days when I’m back at CQO.


We are back on the road home, I’m starting to feel a bit weary but I’m looking forward to an afternoon gym session. Once I get home I drop my bag, grab a quick snack and head down to our local gym. There a few other grads just starting their session so as we bounce between equipment we catch up on our plans for the weekend.


My nightly routine usually varies between chilling out with my housemate, cooking good food and having a read. Tonight I’ve making some quick Mexican wraps and hopping into bed for an early night.