Austin Engineering’s David Pichanick thinks miners need to keep payload matching front and centre of their minds when looking to add to, refresh or replace their truck and shovel haulage fleet.
Why payload matching and what’s involved in matching an excavator to a truck?
According to Pichanick, Global Manager Market Development & Innovation at Brisbane-based Austin Engineering, the answers are efficiency, productivity and profit, and understanding factors such as site conditions, load and haul equipment and production targets.
Anecdotal research has revealed payload matching around achieving lowest cost per tonne is not well understood within the mining industry, according to Austin. Irrespective of the loading tool (excavator, shovel or wheel loader), the accepted goal is to get the payload consistent over time to maximise productivity and production.
Buying the right equipment package – loading tool and dump bodies – is vital and history has shown that the bigger the capital expenditure up front, the better the return on that investment, particularly around reliability and availability, Austin says.
“The loading tool comes first, followed by the dump trucks,” the company said. “And, ironically, depending on the equipment package, that could be the start of issues of reduced load and haul productivity.”
Pichanick says the most efficient bucket, excavator and truck combination currently in Australia is a Liebherr R9800 three-pass loading Komatsu 930E-5 dump trucks, fitted with Austin ‘Ultima’ bodies. Released last year, the new Ultima dump truck body has, Austin says, a unique ‘V’ profile floor that is designed to actively channel the load to the centre of the tray.
What makes this combination so efficient and consistent?
Every excavator and truck manufacturer will provide researched and validated tables and graphs that show the best truck and excavator combination, of their brand, to maximise payloads, Austin says. The problem arises when customers don’t buy the same brand of trucks as the excavator, or vice versa.
For reasons of price, contracts, preference and proven performance history, many miners will purchase an excavator from OEM ‘A’ and trucks from OEM ‘B’. And because the bodies on the trucks are not matched – as set by the manufacturer – to the loading tool, the concept of payload matching enters a grey area, productivity drops and costs around load and haul increase markedly, the company says.
This mismatching becomes apparent on site as truck OEMs look at variations in the 10/10/20 rule to maximise payloads and the direct effect the specific gravity (SG) of the product has on loads. And, although unique, these two elements have a close correlation when loads and capacities are being decided, according to Austin.
“The 10/10/20 rule has long been recognised as a reliable reference for truck payloads and recognises that variations occur in SG, fill factors and loading equipment,” the company said. “However, in an attempt to optimise payload capacity, truck OEMs are negotiating flexibility around the rule depending on reliable SG readings. Today, SG readings are coming from the digital technology available in the latest loading tools; technology that measures payload per pass and lets loading tool operators see if the SG is changing. This is a much safer system than waiting till the load is on the truck.”
Austin Engineering has a vested interest in any discussions around payload matching. The company designs and manufactures custom-designed excavator buckets and truck bodies for the mining industry but, as an independent OEM, can be objective about its recommendations around payload optimisation, it says. Austin conforms to all OEM specifications, globally.
The company has invested heavily in advanced software to match loading tools to truck bodies and, argues Pichanick, devotes a lot of time and effort to the science of payload matching and, by extension, maximising productivity and profit for the end user.
Which brings the discussion back to the Liebherr R9800 and Komatsu 930E-5 dump trucks – possibly the most efficient excavator and truck combination in Australia now.
“We were asked to provide the truck bodies,” Pichanick said. “The customer didn’t want the excavator/truck combination suggested by either supplier but purchased the equipment package they believe will maximise the return – in terms of performance, availability and reliability – over the longer term. Our bodies were custom built to fit the trucks and complement the capabilities of the excavator. The load and haul tonnages they are generating confirm the buying decision.”
From Pichanick’s point of view, this is the true proof of successful payload matching.