One of Western Australia’s key gold mines is trialling Austin Engineering’s new Ultima truck bodies on several of the operation’s 240 t haul trucks as it looks to optimise and maximise its haulage fleet payloads.
The trial has the potential to be converted into a fleet-wide body upgrade, according to Austin, continuing a program that started in 2014 when the engineering company fitted its JEC bodies and increased payload by more than 20 t/load at the operation.
The new Ultima body (pictured on a truck) will take the payload up to 240 t/load and further maximise the haul fleet’s availability and productivity, Austin said.
Going back to the previous payload increase program, the JEC bodies were fitted to the haul fleet after the mine identified a series of production-oriented challenges – including weight of the OEM bodies, the high cost of maintaining the bodies (and subsequent non-availability of the haul truck) and non-achievement of target payloads – impacting on performance and productivity of the load-haul fleet, according to Austin.
Initially 11 bodies were ordered and ultimately the mine’s load-haul fleet was retrofitted.
The customised bodies lifted payload capacity to 230 t/load – an increase of around 20 t/load over the OEM bodies – an outcome of the weight differential between the OEM tray and the JEC body. “Along with increased payload, the body change-out improved haul fleet availability and performance – the result of less frequent unscheduled body repairs, an outcome of the replaceable floor in the JEC body, which eliminated the need for heavy, maintenance-intensive wear line plates,” Austin said.
Now, with the trial progressing, the long-serving JEC units are in line to be replaced by the Ultima bodies which, due to further advances in the payload capacity vs body weight equation, will lift payload to 240 t/load and still meet all OEM dump truck specifications, according to Austin.
“The Ultima haul truck body has the potential to be a significant gamechanger in haul fleet operation due to its advanced steel and design technologies,” Austin said. “A lighter-weight module design, it features improved structural integrity for superior impact and wear resistance, extended fatigue life and lower maintenance costs – all targeted to maximised payload, improved cycle efficiency and significantly reduced total cost of ownership.”
A ‘V’ profile floor, designed to actively channel the load to the centre of the tray, improves machine stability and safety, according to Austin. The floor design also reduces dump cycle times (empty is achieved at 3/4 tipping).
Although the new tray is lighter and stronger than current OEM bodies – which translates to a 10-15% weight saving without sacrificing payload – its design reduces overall tray wear, which significantly increases availability and improves productivity of the mine’s load-haul cycle, Austin said.
The miner’s expectation of the Ultima body is for 240 t/load and, according to the manufacturer, when matched with the appropriate loading tool – such as the 32 m³ bucket on the mine’s shovel excavator – this load figure will be consistently and efficiently achieved.
Just as it did for the JEC units, Austin will maintain a condition monitoring program for the new bodies and advise the mine on any maintenance issues, it said.
The miner is also using Austin bodies in other operations around the world. Specialised hauler bodies have been customised to add significant value and reduce operational costs in underground mining operations, it said.