Austin Engineering commissions Australia’s ‘biggest water tank’

Austin Engineering says it has commissioned the first of its high-performance truck-mounted water tanks which, the manufacturer claims, is the biggest water truck in Australia.

The result of a significant re-design process, the new Stairway Access Tank (SAT) includes several features to improve efficiency, operator safety and truck stability, Austin said.

Custom-built to suit most haul trucks, the new SAT starts at 14,000 litre capacity and includes all spray equipment along with the company’s “Water Wise” system.

The first tank off the production line has a 198,000 litre capacity fitted to a CAT 793C haul truck and is claimed to be the biggest water truck in Australia.

The most obvious external feature of the Austin water tank is a stairway from the top of the tank structure down to a large (137 cm x 259 cm) access port for easy entry and exit for personnel and maintenance equipment to the tank interior. The fill port is located behind the water dam to ensure any overflow flows away from the cab and deck to the rear of the truck, Austin says.

Inside the tank, the design of the new Austin SAT directly tackles the safety concerns surrounding the confined workspace in mine site water tanks, addressed by a recently-completed 10-year study by the US-based National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Part of the NIOSH study looked at operator access to the tank and ease of movement once inside, according to Austin.

“Traditional access inside the tank has been through a series of semi-circular portholes in the baffle system which, although adequate, slowed access and movement, especially in the case of an emergency,” the company said. “The diameter of the portholes – generally 600 mm wide x 740 mm high – also restricted operator manoeuvrability and the physical size of any equipment that could be used inside the tanks.”

The new SAT from Austin features a series of oversize rectangular access ports – 630 mm wide x 1,550 mm high – throughout a unique baffle system to replace the traditional portholes and significantly improve operator safety and comfort inside the tank, it said.

The engineered corrugated baffle system, which interlocks the baffles for increased structural integrity, controls both transverse and longitudinal water surging and reduces the overturning forces by 19% to improve truck stability, according to Austin. Maximum overturning force is delayed by about one second – providing an increase in the time to react to any side force, it explained.

The design of the corrugated baffle system also allows for a lighter-weight tank, which translates to additional payload and lower operating costs. Additionally, the alignment of the oversize access ports, combined with the horizontal baffle system, gives unobstructed movement within the tank, Austin claims.

To improve the worksite environment inside the tank during maintenance periods an air exchange system has also been developed for the tank.