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Mighty Machines

23rd October 2018


 

Jon Lawson reports on the latest advances in load & haul technologies

There has been much activity in the load & haul sector recently, with a flurry of launches. In March 2018, JCB debuted a new crawler excavator range called 220X. The product of a four-year development period, the 20 tonne machines feature a series of enhancements over previous models.

Competitors were benchmarked, and more than 1,000 requirements from international customers were examined. The result produced a new approach to manufacturing, with the excavators being virtually built before parts were ordered from suppliers. Assembly line staff were bought in at an earlier than usual stage to consult on the build. The end result is a doubling of the amount of sub-assemblies built off-line (up to 42%) and a greater emphasis placed on quality control as the units move through the plant.

JCB’s chief innovation and growth officer, Tim Burnhope, says of the manufacturing process: “JCB has moved to a totally new level of product development and machine assembly, that will benefit all of our excavator customers in the field.”

From the user’s perspective, operators will notice lower noise levels, at 68dB(A), as opposed to the previous model’s 73dB(A). The cab itself is 15% larger, with an incorporated ROPS frame, and it sits on redesigned mounts to improve isolation.  

Three types of new Grammer seat are offered, including optional heating and ventilation. The frame houses the servo levers, so everything moves together, and a 7in tilting monitor is included, with access via an automotive-style rotary controller. Redesigned foot pedals complete the picture inside the cab, and an additional hour meter is visible from outside.

Externally, the larger cab has allowed the main boom to be centrally mounted to cut the stress on the slew bearing and allow larger buckets to be used. The AdBlue tank has been placed under a separate cover to stop any cross contamination and improve access for refilling. Also, customers are offered the option to have a GPS guidance system factory fitted.

Kayaba valves and Kawasaki pumps have been retained with larger spools, and the main hydraulic hose diameter has gone from 19-25mm to increase oil flow.

From a testing perspective, in a first for JCB a completed machine was put through its paces in an automotive-style shaker rig. As the doors are of a new, larger design they have been slam-tested 10,000 times as part of the durability programme.

Burnhope concludes, “Every detail of these excavators has been examined and perfected, to provide maximum durability and reliability in operation. The 220X heralds the arrival of a new generation of JCB excavators.”

A busy 2018

Caterpillar has been busy too. At the start of the year, the company confirmed an agreement to retrofit 19 of its 793F trucks for autonomous operation at the Marandoo iron ore mine in Western Australia. For owner Rio Tinto, this will be the first such deployment of Cat vehicles. If all goes to plan, by mid-2018 machines will be entering service, with the project complete by the end of 2019. Regional Cat dealer WesTrac will play ongoing roles in managing and supporting the autonomous haulage system.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury says, “We are excited about starting this new chapter in our automation story. This project with Caterpillar accelerates deployment of autonomous haulage via retrofit in our Pilbara operations and helps meet our objectives of making our operations safer and more productive.”

In February 2018 the company teamed up with Minetec to develop what it called “technologies targeting underground hard rock mining challenges.” The plan is to expand the MineStar system capabilities through the use of improved high-precision tracking and wireless communications, task management technology and proximity detection. Newmont Mining will host the first trial of this technology at its Tanami Operations in Northern Territory, Australia.

In other company news, in March 2018, Peabody ordered a longwall mining system for its North Goonyella Mine in central Queensland, Australia. The system includes roof supports and a face conveyor for a 300m face, shearer and beam stage loader. Delivery is scheduled for the second quarter of 2019.

In R&D news, the battery electric R1300G proof-of-concept machine has started shovelling muck in Canada. It’s not meant to be something designed to go to market; more an exercise in packaging and performance of a lithium-based energy storage solution.

Jay Armburger, product manager with responsibility for underground technology, says, “Our customers are planning for deeper mines with very high ambient rock temperatures where ventilation costs are pivotal to making the mine viable. One means of reducing ventilation demand is through electrification of equipment.”

The design uses a battery electric powertrain driving a conventional mechanical drivetrain, with no load sensing electro-hydraulics. This arrangement was chosen deliberately to drain the battery system faster. The company states, “The less refined proof of concept machine will yield solid understanding of heat generation and cooling needs, performance criteria, space claim and safety considerations in the day-to-day operation of the machine.”

A unique charging system is being developed in tandem with the project. Caterpillar has been interested in electric power for over a decade. In the current range, the most recent wheel loader is the first to feature switched reluctance (SR) technology. The 988K XE has new generator, motor and inverter components, which according to official figures decreases fuel consumption by up to 28% overall and by up to 49% in face-loading applications.

In-house production studies report that the loader delivers faster acceleration than the conventional 988K variant and can therefore increase productivity by up to 10% in load-and-carry applications.

Engine life is increased by 3,500 hours, while oil change intervals double to 2,000 hours. Some 40% less powertrain oil is used.

Volvo’s latest venture

Volvo is set to launch a new range of rigid haulers. The models in the range will be the 45 tonne R45D, 60 ton R60D, 72 tonne R70D and the flagship 100 tonne R100E.

The models lean heavily on Terex’s experience, as Thomas Bitter at Volvo explains: “Our purchase of Terex Trucks in 2014 was a decision that allowed us to offer customers a rigid hauler option. Since then, we’ve been working to design a new rigid hauler that builds on Terex Trucks’ 84 year heritage, while also incorporating Volvo’s technology and core values of quality, safety and environmental care. The new Volvo machines, especially the E-Series R100E, are the outcome of this work. We’re confident that they will impress mining customers.”

Poduction of Terex Trucks rigid haulers will eventually cease, although as well as making these rigid haulers in Scotland the Terex-branded articulated hauler range will continue as normal and the existing dealer network will remain







 

 

 

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