Mining Tyres

Eurotire is working towards eventual production of the largest radial 63 in tyres at its Romania factory. The largest tyres are used on ultraclass trucks such as the Komatsu 960E and Liebherr T282 shown hereEurotire is working towards eventual production of the largest radial 63 in tyres at its Romania factory. The largest tyres are used on ultraclass trucks such as the Komatsu 960E and Liebherr T282 shown here

With the demand for mining tyres not showing any signs of abating, the majors are all gearing up to reap the rewards having learnt from not investing in new capacity prior to the last major mining tyre shortage.

Bridgestone is increasing the production capacity of its Kitakyushu plant in Japan for large and ultralarge off-the road radial tyres for mining vehicles. The company states that the increased production capacity, referred to as phase 3, will help it to meet the growing global mining tyre demand. The plan calls for production capacity to be increased by approximately 20 t per day, to approximately 165 t per day, in the first half of 2014, with work starting in late 2012. In addition, the Bridgestone Group has decided to increase production capacity at its Saga plant for steel cord used in large and ultralarge mining tyres.  Bridgestone is also to build a new plant in Aiken County, South Carolina, to produce large and ultra large mining tyres with production scheduled to begin in the first half of 2014. Work on this project began in 2011.

Moving forward, the group states that it will build a production system “that can continually respond rapidly to changes in market demand trends and can supply customers with worldclass quality products on a timely basis.”

Structurally a change has also been made in North America, with Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations forming an integrated mining tyre business unit. The new business unit, Bridgestone Mining Solutions, combines all mining tyre sales, service and sales engineering, as well as a select group of US and Canadian stores, into one integrated structure. Shawn Rasey will lead the new organisation as Vice President of Bridgestone Mining Solutions. Bridgestone says the new unit will employ around 300 people.

In Asia, Bridgestone is building a new plant in Amata City Industrial Estate, Rayong, Thailand for the production of off-the-road radial tyres for mining vehicles. Bridgestone is also set to start production of steel cord used in these tyres at its subsidiary for manufacturing steel cord in Thailand. Production at the new tyre plant will begin in the first half of 2015. Production capacity at the new plant is expected to reach approximately 85 t per day by the first half of 2019, when scheduled capacity increases are completed. Until now, Bridgestone has produced its mining tyres in Japan and the US only. The new plant in Thailand will allow the group to enhance global off-the-road tyre capacity while responding with increased flexibility to changes in the market. The facility will also incorporate advanced environmental technologies which will contribute to resource conservation. The technologies will include a system for processing wastewater while manufacturing to maximise water reuse, and a cogeneration system.

Michelin North America is also expanding its radial mining tyre operations in South Carolina, first through a new manufacturing plant in Anderson County, but also by expanding its existing facility in Lexington. The two projects represent a $750 million investment and will create up to 500 new jobs. This announcement is in addition to Michelin’s 2011 commitment to add an estimated 270 jobs and invest $200 million in its existing Lexington passenger and light truck tyre manufacturing facility. The expanded operation at Lexington will begin production in October 2012. “Michelin intends to maintain and strengthen its leadership in all its specialty businesses, especially earthmover radial tyres,” said Jean-Dominique Senard, Managing General Partner of Michelin. “The market for earthmover tyres grew by more than 20% between 2009 and 2011. This new facility will help us meet sustained demand while also attaining our growth objectives for 2015.”

Michelin, Goodyear and Bridgestone have all announced major capacity increases for mining tyres to meet current and future demandMichelin, Goodyear and Bridgestone have all announced major capacity increases for mining tyres to meet current and future demand

Michelin North America Chairman and President Pete Selleck said: “Nearly every earthmover tyre is sold before it is produced.  Michelin is one of very few companies in the world that is able to produce these high technology tyres.” The new plant will be Michelin’s 19th manufacturing facility in North America and its ninth in South Carolina. More than 8,000 of Michelin North America’s 22,300 employees are based in South Carolina. The new earthmover tyre plant will be adjacent to Michelin’s existing rubber processing plant in Starr. The company also operates a 2.5 million ft2 rubber processing plant, the largest in the world, in Sandy Springs. In addition to the Lexington plant, Michelin currently produces earthmover tyres in Waterville, Canada; Campo Grande, Brazil; Le Puy and Montceau les-Mines, France; Vitoria, Spain and Zalau, Romania.

Finally, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has also announced a major expansion in Japan. The company has acquired 100% ownership of its Nippon Giant Tire (NGT) subsidiary in Tatsuno.  Goodyear, the majority shareholder of NGT since 1985, has purchased the shares owned by its joint venture partners, Toyo Tire & Rubber and Mitsubishi Corporation. Additionally, Goodyear is to invest $250 million to upgrade and expand NGT’s tyre manufacturing facility to increase its global supply of mining tyres for key customers.  The expansion will also support growth in the company’s Asia Pacific OTR business, primarily in Australia. Goodyear states: “The plant upgrades will significantly grow NGT’s capabilities by utilising new manufacturing technologies and processes. The expanded facility is expected to be fully operational in early 2014 and increase employment at the operation to approximately 400 workers.”

Richard Kramer, Chairman and CEO comments: “Goodyear’s OTR tyres are in high demand globally. This expansion in Japan is aligned to our Strategy Roadmap, as it will enable us to use market-back innovation to grow in one of our targeted market segments, the global OTR business.” The investment will enable NGT to manufacture a full line of 57 in tyres, as well as 63 in tyres at a future date, added Dan Smytka, President of Goodyear’s Asia Pacific region. “The time is right for us to increase our presence in OTR in Asia Pacific. We are proud of our achievements and will continue to build on the strong momentum accelerated by this expansion.” Goodyear began production of 63 in OTR tyres at its plant in Topeka, Kansas in late 2010. The company also produces OTR tyres at facilities in Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Luxembourg, India, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa and Turkey.

With the increasing influence of Chinese mining tyre manufacturers such as Techking, Qingdao Qizhou Rubber, Qingdao Hengda, Shandong Xingda and many others, joint ventures and tie-ups with Chinese groups are continuing to be a focus for the main non-Chinese players. Yokohama Rubber recently announced that it signed an agreement with Shandong Xingda Tyre, a Chinese mining tyre manufacturer, whereby Yokohama Rubber will provide Shandong Xingda Tyre with technical support regarding radial mining tyres and that Yokohama Rubber would off-take a fixed quantity of mining tyres manufactured by Shandong Xingda Tyre. Technical support is planned to begin in 2012, and the off-take is planned to begin in the latter half of 2013. Tyres off-taken will be radial tyres 25 in or larger, while details as to the quantities and time period remain to be finalised. Yokohama Rubber will be globally marketing all the off-taken tyres under the Yokohama brand.

Yokohama stated: “While off the road tyres, which are used for dump trucks and wheel loaders, are in high demand amid the globally accelerating resources development, only a limited number of tire makers can manufacture high-quality, reliable off the road tyres.” Yokohama is also in the process of developing a 49 in radial tyre, a size which is in high demand. The company states that the partnership with Shandong Xingda Tyre will allow it to increase supply in a short space of time without the need for capital investment.

For Shandong Xingda Tyre, a manufacturer founded in 2005 that is specialised in radial mining tyres, the partnership with Yokohama Rubber will contribute to quality improvement and stable operation. The company possesses a large-scale factory with the latest facilities in Dongying, Shandong and produces and sells its products mainly for export.

The new two

Large radial mining tyre suppliers Eurotire and Titan International probably have the highest profile in the industry after Michelin, Bridgestone, Goodyear and Yokohama.

Focusing on mining customers, Eurotire made the strategic decision some years ago to apply its OTR tyre expertise and create a radial mining tyre product. A state of the art radial tyre design and manufacturing facility has been constructed in Drobeta, along the Danube River in Romania.  The company told IM that the factory is now in full swing producing radial tyres for mining customers. This 1,000,000 ft2 facility incorporates modern, leading edge manufacturing technology and sophisticated process control techniques making it what Eurotire believes to be one of the most advanced radial tyre facilities of its kind in the world. It is also equipped with one of the largest dynamic tyre testing facilities in Europe. The facility is staffed by a team of senior design engineers, field engineers and plant operations engineers.

Currently Drobeta is manufacturing quality radial tyres from 25 in upwards and has already achieved ISO9001 certification. The company is moving toward the production of its first 57 in radial tyres in the fourth quarter of 2012.  Beyond this, the capability to build 63 in tires is also programmed into the factory development plan, which foresees 63 in tyres being in production during 2015 and Eurotire states that it is on track to achieve that. The company told IM: “Our radial program is on track but R&D is at the fore as equipment installations and new moulds are continuously being installed. This takes time and requires a lot of validation before taking the product to the commercial market.”

Eurotire also offers a wide range of large bias ply mining tyres. These have been sold in large quantities in many countries around the world where it states they have been working very well at mines in Mexico, Africa, India, Australia, Russia, China and Central Asia. The company told IM in terms of the bias market: “The focus is to provide an acceptable price/performance value to the customer that really validates the bias tyre option. The choice and accurate assessment of usage conditions is critical when assessing whether bias tyres can work or not and certainly not every application will be able to use bias tyres successfully. Our bias tyres have provided a particularly good value solution in mines where there are high rates of accidental damage or where the loads and speeds are within limits or least can be well controlled.”

The group opened a new tyre training centre in Ukraine in 2011 for both customer and employee training. Located in Dnepropetrovsk, the Eurotire Training Center is an educational facility offering training in technical, safety, commercial and industry aspects of the mining tyre market. The aim of the centre is to further education in the mining industry regarding all OTR related matters. Jack James, a long-time OTR veteran and experienced OTR instructor, has been named Director of the centre. In March 2011, the company successfully graduated the first official Eurotire Certified personnel.

As part of the practical training program, mine site visits are undertaken to large scale mining operations located in the region and trainees are given the chance to apply classroom instruction on safety and technical matters to the real world of mining. Additionally, attendees are given an extensive factory tour of Eurotire’s Ukrainian manufacturing facility.

Titan entered the mining market in February 2008 with the production of its first giant radial off-the-road tyre. In 2010, Titan introduced its second generation 007 MFT mining tyre product line, offering enhanced durability, a more aggressive tread pattern, improved heat dissipation and the ability to carry a larger payload.

The company recently has expanded its global influence with its purchase of a majority 56% ownership interest in the Planet Corporation group of companies. Planet includes National Tyres, Acme Wheel, Resource Tyre and Choice Tyres Wholesalers and is based in Perth, Australia. Planet is an OTR tyre and wheel specialist that manufactures, distributes and services products to customers in the mining, agriculture, construction and earthmoving industries. Planet is now a subsidiary of Titan Mining Services, which was formed recently to build Titan’s mining business globally.

Titan also recently announced a major deal in the OEM truck tyre market with a multi-year supply contract with Caterpillar. Titan has agreed to supply OTR tyres to Caterpillar under a three-year agreement starting in 2012. The value of the contract is expected to exceed a minimum of $100 million. Maurice Taylor, Titan International Chairman and CEO commented, “Titan is honoured to work with Caterpillar and we look forward to supplying tyres in support of Caterpillar equipment.”

Tyre monitoring and protection

In July 2012, Rimex introduced TyreSense lite, a more affordable TPMS offering for the mining and industrial market. Unlike any other system available, Rimex says it is a modular approach to tyre monitoring, personalised to meet site requirements and budgets. Users have the option to start with the basic system, and add features or upgrade functionality and/or add reporting capabilities as required. It is suitable for all applications, from open pit and underground mining to forestry, quarries and docks. Whether an operation has one or 200 trucks, TyreSense lite adapts to fulfill their pressure maintenance requirements.

TyreSense is the original TPMS developed by Rimex in 2001. TyreSense sensors are installed within the tyre chamber and they constantly send packets of information to a receiver that is mounted within the cab of the truck. These sensors relay real-time pressure and temperature data through an in-cab display unit for monitoring. But TyreSense data can also be displayed using Bluetooth technology on a handheld field PC or remotely through cellular and wireless Ethernet connectivity from anywhere in the world. In addition, the data is integrated with many of the dispatch systems used in major mining operations worldwide. Not only does the user have access to live pressures and temperatures but each receiving unit in the cab is equipped with a GPS module allowing the user to gather speed and travel information. Alerts are sent in two levels: level one is a high warning alert indicating that the user should take preventative action by changing the conditions of the unit to bring the tire back to ideal operating levels; level two is a critical warning alert indicating that immediate action should be taken because the tyre is operating dangerously outside of its ideal manufacturing parameters. All of the information gathered by the system can be charted in an easy to interpret data log and can be exported to Microsoft Excel for full reporting by the day, month, and year.

Hutchinson offers the Tire Shield which consists of heavy duty reinforced rubber carefully selected to be extremely resistant to tearing and perforationHutchinson offers the Tire Shield which consists of heavy duty reinforced rubber carefully selected to be extremely resistant to tearing and perforation

Hutchinson offers the Tire Shield which it states provides ‘military tough’ protection to the highly stressed sidewalls of mining tyres and ensures the continued operation of vehicles in difficult terrain. The Tire Shield consists of heavy duty reinforced rubber carefully selected to be extremely resistant to tearing and perforation. It creates a barrier in between the tyre sidewall and potentially damaging sharp edged rocks or debris. Hutchinson also refers to the lightweight and durable materials used in the product, which can help in achieving savings in fuel consumption, the initial product cost and a maintenance costs by prolonging the life of the tyre.

Advantage PressurePro offers a number of tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) solutions to the mining industry. These include standalone monitoring options which utilise RF technology to transmit real time tyre pressure and temperature information from a monitor, which sits in-cab, along with sensors which fit to user equipment’s valve stems. Partnering with leading telematics providers, PressurePro’s integrated options also allow fleets to utilise PressurePro’s full TPMS capabilities without the addition of screens in-cab. Communicating over the truck-line, or direct to a box or screen, PressurePro is able to provide real time pressures, temperatures and alerts for drivers while eliminating driver distraction and cab clutter. Integrated options also provide fleets with the ability to monitor the performance of every tyre in the mining fleet from a single control point.

Since its launch in 2005, the Tire Monitor System (TMS) from AM Bromley has been well received both in the UK and internationally with thousands of units sold throughout North America, South America, Europe and Australia, according to the group. Recently, the company states that it has experienced a surge in interest from South East Asia and a distributor, Leemasters International Systems, has been appointed to offer strong local knowledge and allow the technology to benefit from existing relationships. AM Bromley said it wanted a company which  understood the ‘value added’ nature of the TMS product. Leemasters have specialised in the distribution of OTR tyres for more than 20 years, recently expanding their activities to include tyre maintenance solutions.  Their Philippines operation, which focuses on clients in the mining sector, is now working with the TMS solution.

The TMS system from AM Bromley is being distributed in Asia by Leemasters InternationalThe TMS system from AM Bromley is being distributed in Asia by Leemasters International

Designed for use in heavy industrial sectors and capable of withstanding extreme operational conditions, the TMS system integrates tyre pressure sensors (internal and external) in real-time with a data management system that means drivers and managers can access key tyre performance information via cab interfaces and PC programmes while vehicles are in service. AM Bromley told IM: “The capital intensive nature of mining means the reliability of large equipment is critical and the sector has long sought to harness leading edge technologies as offered by the TMS system. Its benefits include improved fuel efficiency, reduced wear and tear and the ability to predict problems enabling the scheduling of appropriate tyre maintenance and maintenance of operational efficiencies.”

Leemasters trialled and is now actively promoting the TMS system with its clients. The company reports numerous benefits including “significant and immediate improvements to tyre maintenance regimes”, a reduction in onsite workloads, increased confidence among clients and high levels of support from the TMS technical team. Tyre monitoring equipment is not a standard implementation yet in the South East Asia region but this is expected to change rapidly with the ever increasing demand for other mining-related equipment.

RUD-Erlau is well known as one of the global leaders in mining tyre protection chains, for which the largest market remains wheel loaders.  Due to feedback from its engineers, RUD-Erlau told IM that is has long been well-aware of the vulnerability of mining truck tyres and asked its R&D team to tackle the problem. With over 130 years of experience in the development and manufacture of chain components, the first instinct was to create a device based on steelalloy elements. However, the team ultimately turned its attention to materials used in other industries and developed Sideflex – what it believes to be a “truly innovative addition” to its range of asset protection products.

The Sideflex system from RUD-Erlau uses platelets that shield the entire sidewall of the mining tyre deflecting rock fragmentsThe Sideflex system from RUD-Erlau uses platelets that shield the entire sidewall of the mining tyre deflecting rock fragments

A sturdy set of replacement wheel nuts and extensions support a simple steel ring to which is attached a fanned array of over-lapping platelets. These platelets shield the entire sidewall of the truck tyre deflecting rock fragments. While the mounting components are made of steel, the Sideflex shield is manufactured from an engineered polymer which has found many applications in the automotive and other industries. The robust material has a memory capability that enables the platelets to flex and deform upon impact and then return to their original shape without any loss of integrity. The entire Sideflex assembly is lightweight and low-profile to the point that RUD-Erlau believes that owners of mining trucks for the first time have a costeffective means of protecting their tyres.  Extensive mining field trials have been conducted and the groups states that Sideflex is performing well.

Transense Technologies, a provider of sensor systems for the transportation and industrial markets, has announced that subsequent to recent successful field trials, its trading division, Translogik has received an initial order for its iTrack tyre temperature and pressure monitoring systems for mining and off the road vehicles from Kumba Iron Ore. The first systems will be installed on 29 haul trucks at the Sishen mine in Northern Cape Province. Translogik now has a technical staff member permanently based in South Africa who will be responsible for training Kumba’s tyre service provider in the installation process and ongoing support of the system. It is anticipated that the South African Translogik team will expand as further mines sign up for the iTrack system.

Graham Storey, CEO of Transense, commented: “This order from Kumba represents the first commercial success for Translogik’s iTrack system in South Africa. Kumba is a leader in mine safety, committed to achieving a ‘zero harm’ policy for all its staff. The ability to monitor the tyre performance of all its vehicles 24/7 and receive instant notification of any potential hazardous situations will allow it to achieve greater levels of safety and efficiency throughout its mines.”

Testing and inspection of large tyres requires specialist equipment. Steinbichler Optotechnik has developed the Intact 4300 EM/OTR tyre shearography machine which is specifically designed for giant OTR tyres with an inner diameter of between 45 in and 63 in, a width of 550-1,550 mm and a maximum weight of 7,500 kg. A key benefit of the machine is that inspections are carried out with the tyre in a vertical position, meaning that there is no need for tyre flipping and therefore no need to allow the tyre to settle before the second side of the tyre is scanned. The tyres can therefore be easily loaded and unloaded with a common forklift. The machine also offers a short test cycle of approximately 20 minutes with three cameras operating simultaneously. Once the tyre is loaded, the measuring heads inside the chamber take images simultaneously of each sidewall and the tread, whilst the tyre is relaxed.  Afterwards, further images are acquired while the tyre is under 50 millibars of vacuum. These measurements are then compared and displayed on a computer screen, allowing the identification of various non-visible defects including belt edge separations and bead turnup failures.

Rims and wheels

To complement Titan International’s giant tyre line, Titan Wheel offers the Superduty Titan Machine Taper (STMT 63) and Accelerated Change Technology (ACT 63) wheel assemblies.  These assemblies weigh less than competitors according to Titan, allowing more payload capacity per haul truck. The ACT allows tyres to be changed or rotated without the need to dismount the wheels. This system can save mining contractors nearly 50% of the time previously spent changing tires.

Titan states that it is the only company with the ability to design, test and produce both wheels and tyres for the mining market.  Because of this unique ability, Titan has created Titan Mining Services (TMS) to offer complete tyre, wheel and track services to end users near large mines. The company’s first location is in Fort Mackay in Alberta, Canada. Titan chose the oil sands mining region to launch these services because of the huge amount of large mining equipment used in the area. Titan is partnering with Saskatoon Wholesale Tire, which has been in the area for a number of years and also represents Titan as a dealer. As the company grows, Titan will open other TMS locations around the world.

The Titan ACT wheel reduces the use of heavy impact wrenches that were required in the past to torque and retorque 50 to 60 wheel nuts when removing a mining wheel and tyre assemblyThe Titan ACT wheel reduces the use of heavy impact wrenches that were required in the past to torque and retorque 50 to 60 wheel nuts when removing a mining wheel and tyre assembly

In detail, ACT is an approach that allows a service technician to change or rotate the rear tyres on a mine haul truck in a fraction of the time. The system also helps enhance safety, reduces service technician fatigue and increases profitability by reducing tyre maintenance downtime. The ACT wheel is designed for use on the outside rear wheel position on mining trucks. Once installed, there’s no need to remove nuts or clamps to rotate the tyres off and on the haul truck. A service technician simply slides the tyre and the component wheel parts across the outside wheel. Featuring twopiece lock rings that can release the tire assembly from the wheel, the ACT wheel allows for easy removal. When an inside dual tyre needs to be changed, it simply slips over the outer dual wheel. Employing a double-lock system that stops rotation of the side flange, the ACT wheel prevents expulsion of the flange and helps control tire slippage. The back and bead incorporates a full 360° pry-bar pocket which aids service personnel in demounting the tire from the wheel. A Sur-Loc rim component inside the bead band prevents tire inflation if the lock ring is misassembled.

The ACT wheel also enhances safety and reduces service technician fatigue. Service technicians no longer need to handle the heavy outside wheel. In addition, the ACT wheel reduces the use of heavy impact wrenches that were required in the past to torque and retorque 50 to 60 wheel nuts when removing a wheel and tyre assembly. ACT wheels are compatible with every size and brand of mining tyres on the market, and are available for every haul truck make and model.

GKN Wheels will use MINExpo as the launch platform for its Swift Wheel Technologies offering, which it describes as a key development in its mining wheel and hub technologies. The company is also set to formally sign a new five-year distribution agreement with Australia’s Rimtec at the show – a partnership covering GKN’s wheels distribution in the Asia Pacific Rim regions.

The new Swift Wheel Technologies mining range includes a new 63 in Swift Change Rim; Swift ID – a wheel identification system; and a large capacity hub and spindle range – bringing the latest 50,000 lb load capacity design to the harsher environment of mining. GKN Wheels says it will also emphasise the scale and scope of its capabilities at MINExpo, exhibiting its 33 in and 49 in wheels alongside the new product launches. GKN also offers a complete range of standard and customised rim solutions for large mining applications. These are available in sizes from 33 in up to 63 in diameter for mining trucks.

GKN states: “The time required for the inspection, maintenance and replacement of wheels on heavy mining equipment creates a significant cost consideration for mining operators. Changing tyres on large wheels also requires considerable care to ensure personnel safety.” The new 63 in Swift Change Rim has a double gutter design which minimises the time needed for tyre changes, leading to increased on-site productivity. The Swift Change Rim also offers improved safety for tyre maintenance personnel.

Jules Carter, Global Engineering & Product Development Director at GKN Wheels comments: “The new range of larger mining wheels complements and extends our existing product lines and will enable us to meet the needs of the mining marketplace in China and throughout Australasia. In extending our offering to the mining market, GKN Wheels has taken a truly global approach, with R&D activity focused in the US, testing at the company’s dedicated Technical Centres in the US and Italy, and production in China. In addition, trial wheels have been running on Caterpillar and Komatsu mining trucks in the Asia Pacific region since 2009 and are performing strongly, attracting some positive customer feedback.”

Specifically on the development of its new mining wheels range, he added: “The largest open cast mining trucks carry loads of up to 400 short tons and the wheels for this machinery must fulfil the toughest performance criteria, demonstrating both strength and reliability. Of course, it is also important to reduce weight where possible to improve fuel efficiency. By employing the latest engineering technologies and computer-simulated modelling techniques, we have been able to achieve all of these criteria.”

The Swift ID chip technology will allow operators to access key information on the wheel with a scanning device. Initially, the data chips will allow access to manufacturing date, operational hours and maintenance due dates.  This represents the first stage in a phased programme that will progressively provide operators with the ability to monitor a range of information relating to aspects of wheel operation.

Exhibiting its high capacity solutions for the first time, GKN Wheels can now supply fully integrated wheel, hub and spindle designs that have been manufactured and performanceverified using both engineering modelling and live product testing. The ability to offer complete high standard systems from a single source, and in a comprehensive range of loads from 1,000 to 50,000 lb, allows GKN Wheels the flexibility required to produce fully tested, reliable designs more quickly.

Based in Australia, Rimtec is part of Downer EDI Mining and is a leading provider of replacement wheels, rims and mining wheel solutions to mining customers for use on rigid dump trucks and other large mining machinery. The two companies have worked together since 2009 and the new agreement builds on their extensive experience of collaborating to serve the aftersales market.

Shinagawa, Japan-based Topy Industries is to establish a solely owned subsidiary company in China for the manufacture and sales of its ultralarge wheel components, the Super Giant Off the Road Rim (SGOR) product range, for mining trucks. In the past, Topy has expanded manufacturing capacity at its domestic manufacturing site, the Ayase factory in Kanagawa Prefecture to address increases in demand but believes that the current market requires this move. Chinese truck manufacturers like XEMC and SANY are expected to grow rapidly in the medium term.

The company states: “The market for dump trucks used in mines is expected to grow as resource development demand expands in Asia, including China, and other Oceania regions. Demand increase in the next three years is expected to be around 30%.” Topy will also modernise its steelmaking facilities at the Toyohashi factory in Aichi Prefecture, where raw materials for wheels are produced, with a target to start operation in April 2015. Topy customers are requesting a stable and long-term supply of SGOR and in order to respond to these increases in demand, it has become necessary to increase its component manufacturing capacity. In view of this, Topy opted to establish a subsidiary company Tianjin Topy Machinery for the manufacture of SGOR components. With the operation of this component manufacturing company, the capacity to assemble finished products at the Ayase factory can be increased, and by diversifying component procurement, Topy believes it can mitigate procurement risk. For further progression of the SGOR business, Topy says it will formulate an “optimum global manufacturing structure” centred around the domestic manufacturing site.

In the wider wheels market, Rimex is well known in the industry for developing the Machined Extreme Service (MES) Series & Taper Secure Radial (TSR) series of wheels and rims.  Having designed a product that is machined for true roundness and has over 100% more steel across the rim in critical areas, Rimex believes that it is the only manufacturer to have advanced wheel technology to precisely match modern radial tyre designs. The unique design of the TSR series uses a taper concept to secure all components in place. Absolute stability of components and the tyre is achieved as movement between parts is eliminated. When the tyre is inflated, the rim parts lock into their tapered landing areas. Rimex comments: “The key benefit of the TSR design is absolute tyre support. The flanges of the wheel do not move on the base. The tyre is anchored with complete stability and no air pressure is lost. As well as extending tyre life, the life of rim components is increased as there is no wearing or fatiguing of the parts from component movement.”

Underground tyre life

Maintaining good roads in underground roads is just as important as in surface mines and is a key factor in extending underground tyre life.  Traditionally, many mines have improvised, using LHD buckets to level off surfaces and remove any blocks that may have fallen from haulage trucks or conveyors. However, the use of dedicated graders underground is increasing. Poor roads underground can have a serious impact on the overall operating cost of a mine’s trackless fleet. Bad conditions slow productivity and can result in damage to underground equipment, which can drive up maintenance costs and have an impact on safety.

Getman’s RDG-1504 Roadbuilder is specifically designed to clear mine roads undergroundGetman’s RDG-1504 Roadbuilder is specifically designed to clear mine roads underground

Getman Corporation offers a low-profile underground road builder, originally developed in the 1980s for use in low  seam coal mines. The Getman RDG-1504 Roadbuilder is specifically designed to clear mine roads underground and built exclusively to perform in harsh underground conditions with “both safety and efficiency in mind”, says the company. The RDG-1504 produces more than 15,700 lb of tractive effort, while applying more than 14,500 lb of working effort into the 12 ft mouldboard blade, all smoothly transmitted to the ground using a four-wheel drive bogie axle. According to the conditions underground, the Getman Roadbuilder can be fitted with an optional scarifier, carbite bits, float valve and/or ripper.  The company told IM: “Manufacturing an underground grader requires a subtle mix factors: it needs to be heavy and powerful to be able to move compact dirt, it needs to be wide enough to assure a single pass, but it also needs to fit underground and be easily manoeuverable through tight drifts. The Getman grader can fit into a 4 m drift, and is operated using a simple to use two-joystick configuration.” Getman argues that rather than improvising with existing equipment, a better alternative is to utilise purpose-built equipment specifically designed and adapted for underground use.

Veekmas in Finland is the Nordic countries’ only motor grader manufacturer and a pioneer in the motor grader technology. In addition to motor graders for traditional construction tasks and snow removal, Veekmas offers another low-profile motor grader solution for road maintenance in underground hard rock mines. Veekmas says that its UG motor graders have been manufactured with attention to high performance and low operating costs.  The company told IM: “When underground roads are in good condition, it improves efficiency, enables flowing traffic and lowers the maintenance costs of other vehicles. But the conditions in underground mines are different than on the surface. That is why it is not easy to use a traditional motor grader in restricted underground working conditions as underground tunnels are narrow, walls are close to each other and the turns are sharply curved.”  Veekmas states that its UG motor graders are ideal for operating in small dimensional and sharply curved mine galleries. The frame articulating joint is situated under the fore of the canopy/cabin and the external dimensions are smaller which eases turning and reduces outer turning radius. Veekmas UG motor graders have small turning radiuses even when pushing loads due to an effective four-wheel drive system. As the smaller Veekmas UG motor grader models have a two-axis rear axle, the rear axle does not try to crank even in sharply curved turns and the rear wheels will not wear out quickly.

Veekmas states that its UG motor graders are ideal for operating in small dimensional and sharply curved mine galleriesVeekmas states that its UG motor graders are ideal for operating in small dimensional and sharply curved mine galleries

The front wheel drive of the Veekmas FG 7 C, Veekmas FG 5 C and Veekmas FG 3 C graders is standard. The road material can be transferred effectively by the middle blade even in sharply curved turns by using the frame articulation at the same time. If a motor grader has a bogie axle or it has no front wheel drive system, the motor grader will not turn in sharply curved turns when the frame articulation is activated. In these cases, the front wheels are located at almost 90° position to the direction of the rear axle causing the wheels to slip.

Veekmas adds: “Road material can be moved back to its correct locations and the road can be shaped to a correct shape by the middle blade of a motor grader. Correct road inclinations and water ditches can also be made by means of a motor grader. Loose stones can be pushed to one side of the road by a front blade. A motor grader not only pushes the road material but it gives the road the correct shape and inclinations.”

Retreads, training and technology

Rösler Tyre Innovators, a Germany-based OTR retread specialist, has announced plans to develop its network of turnkey retreading plants on a global basis. The company plans to achieve between 20 and 30 plants over the next 5-10 years licensed to use the Schelkmann retreading process, each with a capacity of some 1,500 tyres per year. The company’s aim is to directly target mining companies who have the need for a high number of tyres annually. Rösler currently has plants in Germany, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Indonesia and Australia as well as a newly established plant set up in New Brunswick, Canada. The company currently has no ongoing projects in Africa but is actively looking at opportunities and is establishing a representative office. Other focus areas include northern Chile, eastern Australia, the Kuzbass region in Russia and Colombia.

Well known mining tyre management consultancy Otraco International ( officially opened a new tyre training centre in Maddington, Perth in April 2012. The training centre, which comprises a 2,000 m3 tyre pad and 1,500 m3 of training rooms, offices, workshop and a hard stand, will train tyre fitters for Otraco’s operations on mine sites throughout Australia and also elsewhere. Otraco’s decision to establish the centre was based primarily on two key factors – safety considerations and the nationwide shortage of qualified OTR tyre fitters. Otraco serves around 40 mine sites in Australia, New Zealand, southern Africa and South America. With its OTRACOM software and rims and ancillaries business it also serves additional mining clients globally. Major mining clients include Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Minara Resources, CITIC Pacific, Newmont, Codelco, Newcrest, Minmetals, Barrick and Anglo Platinum. The group is owned by Downer EDI so also manages tyres for Downer EDI Mining at a number of its contract mining sites. Otraco General Manager Alistair Swanson said: “A key component of the training offered by Otraco is that it involves simulating the mine environment, and trainees are able to work on real mining equipment just 30 minutes from Perth’s CBD. One of the most important advantages of this approach is that it enables the trainees to undergo their training in a very safe, controlled environment. It also enables them to decide whether they like the life, as training and trainees will be required to work a full mine roster, work nights, undergo mock client audits and even eat in a crib room. After completing the six-week course at the centre, the trainees continue their training on mine sites. Previously trainees would have received all their training on site; now they start their job equipped with key skills, and the role of a trainer on site becomes more that of a mentor.”Thanks to the support of the mining industry and local businesses, the centre is equipped with both open-pit and underground mining equipment, including a Caterpillar 789B haul truck donated by BHP Billiton, and an Elphinstone R2900 LHD and tyre handler from Downer EDI Mining.

Initially the centre will be offering courses on an as-required basis to meet Otraco’s need for tyre fitters. Each intake will comprise six to eight trainees, who will ultimately graduate with a Certificate II in Automotive Mechanical – Tyre Fitting Heavy – which has been customised to incorporate OTR. In addition to supplying trained tyre fitters to the mines, the training centre will be offering commercial courses to mining equipment companies and local tyre suppliers.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber recently announced a development that could help consumers and the environment by reducing the amount of petroleum-based oil used in mining and other tyres, while at the same time extending tread life. Goodyear researchers at the company’s innovation centre have found in tests that using soybean oil in tyres can potentially increase tread life by 10% and reduce the tyre maker’s use of petroleum-based oil by up to 7 Mgal each year. In addition, testing at Goodyear’s tyre plant in Lawton, Oklahoma showed improved mixing capabilities in the manufacturing process. The company found that rubber compounds made with soybean oil blend more easily with the silica used in building tyres. This can improve plant efficiency and reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  Prototype tyres built in Lawton will be tested at Goodyear’s proving grounds in San Angelo, Texas. If indicators remain positive, Goodyear expects consumers will be able to purchase tyres made with soybean oil as early as 2015.

The use of soybean oil is one of several initiatives Goodyear is currently undertaking to increase its use of renewable raw materials.  Goodyear and DuPont Industrial Biosciences continue to work together to develop BioIsoprene, a revolutionary bio-based alternative for petroleum-derived isoprene.  BioIsoprene can be used for the production of synthetic rubber-which in turn is an alternative for natural rubber-and other elastomers. The development of BioIsoprene may help further reduce the tyre and rubber industry’s dependence on petroleum-derived products.

Another effort underway in Goodyear to save non-renewable fossil fuel is Goodyear’s Air Maintenance Technology(AMT). AMT will help enable tyres to remain inflated at the optimum pressure without the need for any external pumps or electronics. All components of the AMT system will be fully contained within the tyre. The potential benefits of such a system include improved fuel economy, reduced emissions, longer tire life, enhanced safety and performance.

In 2011, Denmark-based recycling equipment manufacturer Eldan Recycling was approached for a new solution to process mining tyres. The company has come up with a solution that combines a heavy duty demolition shear, the Eldan Heavy Duty Super Chopper, a powerful overband magnet and a granulation and separation plant – to deal with large mining tyres. The company performed a test run of the system in 2011, which it says successfully demonstrating the plant’s ability to process mining tyres of 3-4 m in diameter and weighing up to 6 t. The mining tyres are first handled and pre-cut by a heavy duty demolition shear into pieces which fit the in-feed of the Eldan Heavy Duty Super Chopper. This machine is specially designed to process voluminous and tough waste. In the Heavy Duty Super Chopper, larger pieces of mining tyre are processed into tyre shreds, and free steel wire is liberated and removed from the shreds by the magnet. The tyre shreds are further processed in the granulation and separation plant. As the mining tyre recycling system is combined with standard tyre recycling systems, the output can be decided according to the customer’s specific needs of output granulate size and quality. The typical rubber granulate purity in the standard systems is up to 99.9% free of liberated steel and textile. However, by adding a quality upgrading system, Eldan states that it is possible to produce rubber powder up to 99.99% free of liberated steel and textile, and 100% free of metals, glass and stones. In addition, the company states that it is possible for the liberated steel wire to be further cleaned into a steel fraction which is 99% free from foreign materials. IM