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Trucks 

 

Summary

This review describes the current state of technology of the equipment and technical processes involved in trucks in open pit and underground mine operations. Topics covered include suppliers of trucks and related equipment, the types and varieties of trucks and excavators available on the market, the cost and technical characteristics of trucks and excavation equipment and operation, jobs and employment involving the design, procurement, operation, and maintenance of trucks and excavators at mines.

INTRODUCTION

Curtin University of Technology captures the essence of a mine truck in these words, from Western Australian Centre of Excellence in Industrial Optimisation (WACEIO):

"An important problem in mining is that of selecting a fleet of trucks and loaders for use in extracting ore and waste throughout the life of the mining operation. The cost of the truck and loader fleet has been estimated as being up to 55% of the total cost of the operation making purchasing the correct combination of trucks and loaders critical."

HISTORY

As always, the best history of trucks is on Wikipedia. I quote: The word "truck" comes from the Greek "trochos", meaning "wheel". In America, the big wheels of wagons were called trucks. When the petrol engine driven trucks came into fashion, these were called "motortrucks" and the word motor in front of truck disappeared.

The term "truck" is most commonly used in American English and Australian English to refer to what earlier was called a motor truck, while the equivalent term in British English is lorry (although the official term is Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV)). The British term is, however, only used for the medium and heavy types (see below), i.e. a van, a pickup or a SUV would never be regarded a "lorry" . Other languages have loanwords based on these terms, such as the Malay lori.

Another source of information on the history of trucks and what they are is at Reference.com. Again I quote:

A truck is a motor vehicle for transporting goods. Unlike automobiles, which usually have a unibody construction, most trucks (with the exception of the car-like minivan) are built around a strong frame called a chassis. They come in all sizes, from the automobile-sized pickup truck to towering off-road mining trucks or heavy highway semi-trailers.

CAREERS

Trucks and Mining Dumpers form the backbone of waste/ore transportation and handling in surface mines. Because of this, there are always enough opportunities for dump truck operators and heavy duty mechanic in mining industries throughout the globe. Scores of openings can be found on CareerMine specifically on dump truck operators and heavy duty mechanics.

MANUFACTURERS & SUPPLIERS

The primary manufacturers of trucks for use in the mining industry are: Hitachi, Liebherr, Caterpillar, Komatsu, and Terex. Suppliers are listed in the InfoMine suppliers database. Used Haul Trucks and Used Articulated Trucks are also listed in InfoMine's New and Used Equipment section. With this information, there is no doubt that you, as an informed miner, could select and purchase your own fleet.

M.G. Currie, a fleet economist, mentions that Caterpillar, the world's leading heavy equipment manufacturer, commands the largest market share in the haul truck category. The balance of the market is shared among the other four manufacturers, with Komatsu enjoying somewhat better success than the others in the 240T and 360T class. The industry has consolidated over the past decade, with Hitachi acquiring Euclid, Terex merging with Unit Rig, and Komatsu acquiring what was Wabco.

Innovation is the watch-word of all truck manufacturers. The most innovative seems to be the Emirates Truck Factory. I spent an hour on their site examining all the fascinating features of their beautiful trucks and the location of their factory in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, the northernmost Emirate of the United Arab Emirates. The videos on ETF Trucks show a promising future for its application in mining industries.

Another manufacturer is the Hubei Huawei Special-Purpose Automobile Manufacturing Company in Suizhou, China. The pictures speak for themselves: a full range of material transport and dump trucks. I have no idea how much they cost-but their phone numbers are on here.


TIRES & ROADS

Thedford Mines. The little trucks in the distance have 10 foot tires Tires and good road are critical to the cost-effective operation of mine trucks. Tire suppliers are listed in the InfoMine database.

Even the best truck with the newest tires is useless if your haul roads are not good. See this InfoMine review for pointers on haul road design and maintenance.


CONSULTANTS

If you are not entirely confident selecting your own fleet, consultants will help.

  • M.G. Currie: fleet economist with experience at PricewaterhouseCoopers global mining group, Caterpillar and Komatsu; assists with equipment selection and maintenance strategies for haul truck fleets.
  • WBM provides a range of services to operators and manufacturers of large haul trucks, having been involved in the design, testing and analysis of truck bodies, drive trains and suspension units.
  • EMG's website notes that they have developed and tested 31 Capital, Cost Containment, Expediting, and Risk Management Programs at 161 mines in 22 countries.

HAUL TRUCK TRAINING

Trucks are purchased; operators must be trained. Training programs may be provided by their manufacturers or from one or more of the following:

  • VISTA develops training programs for the construction and surface mining industries. Government agencies, utilities, contractors, surface mines and manufacturers benefit from shared cost development of video, CD-ROM, seminar, onsite equipment operator and Internet based training.
  • Fifth Dimension Technologies. The 5DT Haul Truck Training Simulator teaches the trainee haul truck driver how to drive a large off-highway haul truck. It also teaches trainees how to position the truck for loading (e.g. beside a shovel or wheeled loader) and how to position it for dumping, both at the ore crusher and at a waste dumping area. Trainees also learn to drive in reduced visibility (fog and dust conditions) and at night.
  • Runge Training The major topics covered in their course are:
    • Characteristics of large mine haulage trucks, bottom dump trucks, unitized haulers and specialist trucks.
    • Factors influencing the selection of various truck types.
    • Characteristics of loading equipment used in mining applications, including rope shovels, hydraulic excavators, front-end loaders, and special loading equipment.
    • Factors influencing the selection of and production from various loading unit types, including fill factors, swing angles, queuing and whether an extra pass should be added to fill a truck.
    • Characteristics of the layout of mining operations using trucks, and efficiency of haul route and dump design layouts.
    • Selection of routes and calculation of truck travel times from first principles.
    • Factors affecting truck travel times such as engine power, rolling resistance, road gradient, and payload.
    • Productivity of combined truck and loader fleets, including worked examples.
    • Capital and operating costs of truck and loaders, including basic cost calculation from first principles, equipment replacement timing, and the estimation of contract loading haulage costs in open pit applications.
  • RW Consulting and Training Services: They describe their mission as providing heavy equipment training services, and production and safety enhancement programs to mines and equipment companies. They offer training programs specific to heavy equipment use in open pit mining. Their most recent announcement:

    Our New Simulator is in. The Simlog 320 Track Excavator Backhoe. We have a portable system available with an operator seat and joystick controls with digital projection video graphics. Available with instructor. This is the perfect no-risk way to learn how to operate a Backhoe.
    Simulator

    As always there is more to it than the website lets on. So I contacted them and asked more about the company history and the folk who make it happen. Here is what they replied:

    Our Facility is located in downtown Sparwood. Sparwood is the heart of the Western Canadian Coal Mining Industry. We have five big coal mines around us here (Elk Valley Coal Corp).
    We have offices and small classroom / meeting rooms here. The permanent version of the Simulator is housed here as well and we have a portable model that we can take along on the road.
    Our staff consists of 2 office staff and 12 trainers. The trainers are all retired or almost retired training specialists from the local mining industry with huge amounts of mining experience.
    Our services are offered in 3 ways. (1) Trainers and consultants to mines internationally for operator training or BI (Business Improvement Practices). (2) Trainers to equipment manufacturers such as LeTourneau and P&H where training is part of the equipment sale or aftermarket package. (3) In house training programs for individuals or EI, WCB retraining programs on heavy equipment leading to employment.
    There are very few companies that can offer these kinds of mining improvement packages and in these days when the boomers are retiring, the Oil Sands is hiring up all of the experienced labor, and companies are scrambling to get enough able people to keep operations running well. We are starting to see an increased demand for our services.
    We are in the process of negotiating a possible joint venture with a major learning institution franchise in Canada. This should increase our presence here in Western Canada considerably.

TRACKING

Trucks are purchased, drivers trained, and the equipment is in the field. Modular Mining Systems provides a full line of products and software to track them: GPS units attached to the trucks. Here are other publications on GPS and trucks:


TRUCK SAFETY

Haul trucks are involved in more quarry accidents and deaths than any other piece of equipment. From January 1990 to July 1996 there were 4,397 haul truck accidents reported to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. But James Young, an MSHA educational field services training specialist, said it does not have to be that way.

Front view of vision limitations from the cab of a 150-ton rear-dump truck

Powered haulage has been, and continues to be, the major source of severe accidents and fatalities in surface mining. From 1972 through 1974, truck haulage accidents were the leading cause of fatalities at metal and nonmetal surface mines. From 1989 through 1991, accidents involving surface mine haulage trucks accounted for the greatest number of accidents with the most severe injuries and fatalities. The latest preliminary accident statistics from MSHA indicate that over 33% (again, the largest single category) of the 1995 fatalities were attributable to powered haulage.

Plan view of vision limitations from the cab of a 150-ton rear-dump truck

COSTS

Bigger trucks lead to bigger shovels Western Mining is a comprehensive source of information about the cost of purchasing, owing, and operating mine trucks. Here are sites where you may pick up ways to control and reduce truck costs:

When looking at haul trucks in the 30 - 90 ton range, North American pricing for new trucks can vary from US$500 - 900,000, with used trucks in this same range varying from US$350 - US$800,000. I would like to thank Jimmy Smith of Galaxy Equipment for providing these costs. For up to date pricing on all truck models or to receive a quote on their current inventory of used equipment, please visit their inventory on InfoMine.


PEOPLE

The World's Biggest Truck

T 282 B mining truck (Photo credit: Liebherr)

This new mining truck can carry about 360 tonnes (400 tons) at 64 km/h. New Scientist interviewed its designer, Francis Bartley, who says that such a truck costs US$3 million and that the worldwide market for these trucks doesn't exceed 75 units per year. He adds that this is an unconventional truck. It has a 2723-kilowatt diesel engine which powers two electric motors, making the T 282 B the biggest AC drive truck. If you like big toys, you'll enjoy this interview.

To the right is a stunning photograph of a man standing next to a T 282 B mining truck (Credit: Liebherr). Impressive, isn't?

Here is the link for more details on this truck.

From ThomasNet IndustrialNewsRoom: In a move to further enhance its position as the world's leading manufacturer of mining and construction equipment, Caterpillar announced today that it will produce a Cat line of AC electric drive mining trucks. Caterpillar views the addition of an AC electric drive truck line as an enhancement to providing customers with products to fit key applications.


THE FUTURE

US TRUCK manufacturer Paccar plans to put medium-duty trucks with environmentally friendly hybrid motors on the market.

Peterbilt Model 330 Hybrid Electric Vehicle (Photo credit: Paccar)

Until now hybrid systems, which use electric motors while still consuming fuel, have been largely confined to small passenger vehicles. Paccar, which has a presence in Australia and produces the Kenworth, DAF and Peterbilt brands, unveiled its intentions with its first quarter finances this year. The company said its Paccar Hybrid Power system would be installed in selected vehicles by 2008 and it had established a goal of 30% fuel efficiency improvement for specific customer applications during the next seven years. Paccar design engineers have worked with hybrid systems developer Eaton for the commercialisation of the technology. Other larger vehicle manufacturers currently developing hybrid technology include DaimlerChrysler subsidiary Freightliner, which has produced hybrid chassis for walk-in vans, and Volvo, which plans to introduce the technology to trucks performing operations such as metropolitan distribution and refuse collection.


JUST FOR FUN

There is one giant mining truck Terex 33-19 "Titan" kept for public display in Sparwood, B.C., Canada. Though, this 350 short tons truck never entered regular production cycle, but it definitely serves now as an exciting showpiece for the visitors.
Peterbilt Model 330 Hybrid Electric Vehicle (Photo credit: Paccar)

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