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Sandvik and Artisan reveal new 18 t battery-electric LHD

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has matched its decades of engineering expertise with Artisan Vehicle Systems’ 18 years of innovative powertrain technology and battery system expertise to come up with the new 18 t payload LH518B battery-electric loader.

Sandvik acquired Artisan last year, in the process gaining 10 years of mining battery-electric vehicle (BEV) deployment experience. The latest BEV loader, which comes on top of Artisan’s 4 t and 10 t capacity loaders – plus its 50 t payload truck – is the first true collaborative design effort between the two companies.

The LH518B from Sandvik has been designed from the ground up, entirely around the loader’s Artisan™ battery system and electric driveline to best leverage the possibilities that the battery technology brings, Sandvik says.

“It was not enough to replace some components or redesign only a part of the equipment: the designers were compelled to rethink the whole machine,” Sandvik said.

The most powerful 18 t loader ever built, according to Mike Kasaba, Managing Director of Artisan, a Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology business unit, the new LH518B can fit in a 4.5 x 4.5 m tunnel and features independent front and rear drivetrains, allowing high payload capacity while keeping a low overall height, Sandvik says.

This low overall frame height of 2,565 mm – significant lower than other machines in its class – provides “for better manoeuvrability in low back height applications while increasing stability”, Kyle Hickey, VP of Engineering for Artisan, said at the Innovation in Mining virtual event on September 29.

“The use of smaller diameter tyres in the rear is an example of how this machine has been optimised for the application,” he added.

The LH518B is equipped with three 2,000 Nm permanent magnet motors, 450 kN of tractive effort, can operate at speeds up to 30 km/h and has 560 kW of continuous power output (peak power output of 660 kW).

“With no torque converter, transmission or engine to rev up, the loader is fast and agile,” Sandvik says. This means it can travel at a speed of 12 km/h fully loaded on a 20% grade ramp.

In practice, changing the loader battery is easy and quick, thanks to the patented AutoSwap feature, Sandvik says.

This self-swapping system for the Artisan battery pack has been developed to offer a minimum amount of manual handling. According to Sandvik and Artisan, changing the battery only takes about six minutes, and it can be done in a passing bay or old re-muck bay with no need for overhead cranes or external infrastructure.

“The new AutoConnect feature, available for the first time on the LH518B, is making swapping even easier and faster by automatically connecting and disconnecting the battery pack to the machine,” Sandvik says. “Aside from unplugging and plugging in the charger, the operator doesn’t need to leave the cabin, which saves minutes on the swapping procedure and decreases effort and risk in the swapping process.”

This is aided by a stability system, within the Artisan battery system, that allows the battery to be dropped off at any location without any prepared infrastructure, according to Hickey.

Kasaba said the LH518B is the “only battery loader capable of dropping off and picking up its own battery”. This process of tramming between battery swaps is enabled by the LH518B having a small on-board battery that remains in place at all times, according to Hickey.

Brian Huff, VP of Technology for Artisan, explained during the event that the LH518B is built for automation and will be available in the future with AutoMine integration.

The LH518B will be available to customers in North America this year, followed by select other areas in 2021, he added.

Sandvik concluded on the subject of BEVs: “Currently, Sandvik is expanding the battery-electric vehicle loader and truck offering and prepares to enter new market areas, which will happen in phases and model by model. When the battery loaders and trucks are introduced to new markets, Sandvik will be ready to offer full product support and aftermarket services for its customers.”

Included in this is the company’s Battery as a Service offering which IM understands will help miners adopt these new battery-electric vehicle solutions, which currently come with a higher capital cost than the diesel equivalent.