In what it says is a first for the Australia market, Hastings Deering has successfully completed the conversion of 777D haul trucks into 777E models for Rio Tinto’s Gove bauxite operations in the Northern Territory.
The 777D to E conversion process includes an engine upgrade from an older Cat 3508 to a C32 Tier 2 engine, a transmission upgrade to electronic clutch control, torque converter upgrade and an upgraded cab with the latest electronics and safety aspects.
Nearing the end of mine life, Gove was looking at innovative ways to reduce its environmental impact, extend fleet life and optimise return on investment, Hastings Deering said.
Brendan Coleing, Superintendent, Mining Maintenance, said that the Gove operation has focused heavily on building safe and reliable machinery to meet the targeted life of its assets and has been working to reduce environmental emissions.
“With a 24/7 operation, we need to plan and strategically think about our assets, their maintenance and lifecycle,” he said.
“All machines have availability targets. Ultimately, we want to keep them in the field as long as possible. The 777D to E Conversion project was a way we could continue the journey to do that, with the added benefit of providing improved technology to our operational teams.”
He concluded: “We’re excited that Gove operations was the first Australian mine to undertake this project, and only the second in the world. With a significant reduction in our carbon footprint, fuel consumption and maintenance costs, and an improved operator experience, really, we were challenged with: why wouldn’t we?”
With the first of the 777 trucks now back on site, the Rio Tinto team has seen a 5-6% fuel reduction, proving that effective planning for this fleet conversion has improved economy on site, Hastings Deering said.
With Cat equipment built to perform over multiple lifetimes, the Cat Certified Rebuild (CCR) was the most efficient way to help get the most economic value out of the asset investment, according to Hastings Deering.
A CCR is a full machine rebuild that provides a like-new machine, inclusive of all Cat updates, to help achieve a full machine life supported by the Caterpillar warranty.
In early 2020, the Hastings Deering team worked with Rio Tinto on an alternative solution for engine replacement in its D11R fleet that, it says, reduced costs, fuel use and emissions while extending lifespans. This incorporated replacing the 3508 engines with the newer C32 engines.
“Recent success with repowering our D11 fleet with C32 engines has helped our mining operations move more bauxite due to increased power in the machine,” Coleing said. “This, in turn, allowed us to plan for the 777D to E conversions to take place in the workshop to complete the CCRs.”
Chris Polkinghorne, Mining Support Rep at Hastings Deering, said that the 777D to E conversion was brought about through collaboration with Caterpillar, Rio Tinto Gove and Hastings Deering.
“As a team we worked through what the benefits of this conversion would be, what was required, the planning phase and then how to execute the project in as little time as possible,” he said. “The 777D to E conversion redefines performance adding all the advancements of the 777E truck model.
“For the operator, improved ergonomics provide enhanced comfort, safety, and visibility, to maximise productivity and reduce fatigue.”