Project Description


CLIENT : Rotobec

INDUSTRY : Heavy industries



During normal operation of the drilling process in mining, drill pipes can be damaged and need to be replaced. In these cases, mining staff must manually replace the damaged pipe from the machine rack, which is a risky operation.

Our customer, Rotobec Inc., a manufacturer of material handling equipment, teamed up with Creaform in order to perform the design and the structural validation of a new drill pipe loader to meet the specific needs of the mining industry. The new loader was designed with the same strength and durability criteria than current Rotobec loaders, which have been the #1 choice of North American consumers for several years.

With a direct remote connection to the Rotobec PLM database, Creaform’s mechanical designers and engineers worked in close collaboration with Rotobec engineering team to develop the best product for the specific application within a tight schedule.

Finite elements models built on Femap and computed with NEi Nastran were used to increase the efficiency of the design as well as resolve specific issues throughout the process. Static linear and non-linear finite elements analyses were performed to validate the strength of the entire machine with precise and complete stress evaluation for the hydraulic lift capacity.

The loader had to be equipped with a telescopic stick boom (with minimum 60’’ of travel), able to work oriented horizontally, and strong enough to manipulate 9” diameter drill pipes that can reach 45’ of length and weigh more than 4000 lbs. The grapple had to be able to rotate 180° and positioned to give all the degrees of freedom to the operator so that he or she could position pipes in the rotary drill. The hydraulic system was remotely operated by an operator standing next to the truck. Out and down stabilizers were designed to guarantee the stability of the truck during operation. The overall dimensions and weight of the machine were important to adhere to the gross vehicle weight rating and transport regulations.

Services provided

  • Project management
  • Mechanical design, including structures, hydraulic rooting, mechanisms, etc.
  • 3D and 2D CAD drawings, including general assembly drawing (NX)
  • Maintenance and operator manual
  • Lift capacity analysis and optimization of geometry using an analytic approach
  • Preliminary analysis and structural recommendations prior to design
  • Finite element modeling using strict standards (NEi Nastran)
  • Static linear and non-linear analysis
  • Factor of safety calculations for metallic and interface joints (fasteners, pins)
  • Results presentation and detailed reports



Based on the client’s needs, Creaform used the following tools and methods:

  • Femap
  • NEi Nastran
  • NX
  • Static linear and non-linear analyses