Maximum extraction

24 April 2008

One of the first of Volvo's 70 tonne EC700B excavators has been delivered a aggregate quarry operate

One of the first of Volvo's 70 tonne EC700B excavators has been delivered a aggregate quarry operated by Holcim in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Construction Industry Demand for quarried materials in Europe has been growing steadily over the last few years and prospects for the next few years also look promising. Production of sand, gravel, crushed rock and recycled aggregates in Europe grew to 2860 million tonnes in 2005, up +3,6% from 2757 million tonnes in 2004, and the growth is expected to continue in 2006.

“Demand for quarried products in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia is consistent at the moment,” said Caterpillar quarrying & aggregates industry marketing supervisor Alain James Meyer. “But demand has been very high in Eastern Europe and has also been strong in Ireland over the last 12 months.

“The growing level of demand is expected to continue this year and beyond. There are a number of key rail and road projects in Europe which are about to get underway, as well as continued growth in the housing sector, which will trigger further demand for construction materials and, therefore, stimulate further growth in the quarrying sector.”

But while demand is on the increase, gaining permission to open or extend quarries in Europe is becoming more difficult due to pressure for sustainability. In the long term this could create a shortage of virgin aggregates and both construction clients and legislators are trying to drive development of recycled, or secondary, aggregate alternatives.

“There is a growing shift towards recycled products,” said Mr Meyer. “In 2005 145 million tonnes of aggregates used in Europe were from recycled sources and this figure is likely to grow. Further research and development to develop specifications for the use of recycled aggregates will be key to gaining acceptability and wider use.”

Quarry operators at existing sites are also working to reduce the environmental impact and improve relations with neighbouring communities. Exhausted parts of quarries are increasingly being restored to offer leisure facilities for local people and nature reserves for wildlife. Owners are also trying to reduce noise through use of quieter machines and carefully planned blasting programmes.

The industry is also working to improve its health and safety record by reducing the impact of noise, dust and vibration on its workers by opting for machines with better sound insulated cabs and air filtration systems. Construction equipment manufacturers are also working with the quarrying industry to improve access and vision.

“Rear view camera systems are becoming increasingly common option on new machines,” said Mr Meyer. “Modern cabs have much more glass for improved vision and our latest wheeled loaders have platforms to improve safety during cleaning. Other innovations which are improving operator safety on Cat machines include lower service points to allow maintenance to be carried out from ground level and inclined ladders which move out when the handbrake is applied.”

Better Performance

In a bid to improve efficiency, Cat has launched Extreme Service versions of its 330D L, 345C L and 365C L excavators which are each fitted on the undercarriage from the next size up in the range. “The 330 is fitted on a 345 undercarriage, the 345 is fitted on the 265 undercarriage and so on,” said Mr Meyer.

“The larger undercarriage gives the machines better stability giving more reach which means less movement per cycle and, therefore, better fuel economy. The larger slew ring also improves the torque of the machine. Efficiency is becoming very important for quarry operators, particularly given the growing trend to use mobile crushing and screening plant rather than static plants. It is increasingly common for an excavator to directly load the plant so quarry operators want machines that have faster cycle times and a higher lifting capacity over the side to give them flexibility.”

Most of the performance benefits of newer machines have been borne out of the introduction of the latest engine emission laws. The European Stage IIIA and US Tier 3 regulations for the 130 to 560 kW powerband - an engine capacity common in quarrying equipment - came into force in January this year. Many manufacturers have used the need for an engine upgrade as an opportunity to redesign the whole machine to add other innovations, resulting in a wave of new machine launches.

Komatsu, Case and Hyundai all launched new excavators suitable for the quarrying sector in April at Intermat in Paris, France.

The biggest of the new machines is Komatsu's 80 tonne PC800-8 and is powered by a 363 kW Stage IIIA Komatsu/Cummins ECOT3 engine. The company has also introduced a 60 tonne version, the PC600-8, powered by a 320 kW ECOT3 engine, which Komatsu claims delivers the industry's lowest emission levels.

According to Komatsu, the new engines have also improved performance with the lifting force on the PC600-8 up +17% over the dash 7 model and can be boosted by a further +8% using the PowerMax function. The new Komatsu machines also meet EU Stage II noise regulations with external noise levels of 108 dB(A) and in-cab levels of 75 dB(A).

Case's new 70 tonne CX700 is the company's first machine to be fitted with a Stage IIIA compliant engine - an 345 kW Isuzu unit - and is designed to fill the gap between the 46 tonne CX460 and 80 tonne CX800.

“The new engine is more fuel efficient, quieter and more power efficient than the previous Stage II units,” said a company spokesman. “The improvements offer higher breakout forces, faster cycle times and performance characteristics which are almost equal to the current CX800.

“The CX800 will be one of the next machines to be upgraded with a Stage IIIA engine and field test suggests that the performance will be equivalent to that of a 90 tonne machine.”

The 50 tonne Hyundai Robex R500LC-7A is a totally new machine and is also the company's largest excavator. The R500LC-7A is powered by a Stage IIIA compliant 266 kW Cummins engine. According to Hyundai, the machine has been designed to have the strength, power and durability needed for heavy duty applications such as quarrying and mass excavation.

Hitachi and Terex are also expected to launch excavators in the 50 tonne-plus weight class later this year. Hitachi is expected to add the 52 tonne Zaxis 520 LCH-3, 67 tonne Zaxis 670 LCH-3 and the 87 tonne Zaxis 870 LCH-3 and Terex has announced plans its TC range up to 65 tonnes with TC520 and TC620 versions already on the drawing board.

The versatility of wheeled loaders makes them a popular loading option with quarry operators.

One of the largest new wheeled loaders is Komatsu's WA600-6 which has a maximum operating weight just under 53 tonnes and a 393 kW Stage IIIA ECOT3 engine and, despite its size, the noise level in the cab is just 73 dB(A) - the lowest in this machine class according to the company.

Komatsu says the engine and its own design of torque converter give the WA600-6 the best rimpull in its class. A variable displacement piston pump for the closed circuit hydraulic system matches the oil flow to the application, which works with the operator-selected engine modes to cut fuel consumption.

Komatsu has also added the 33 tonne WA500-6 wheeled loader to its product range. The 263 kW ECOT3 powered loader, which replaces the WA500-3, has an increased dumping height of 3,3 m and a larger 5,6 m3bucket, enabling it to load a larger class of hauler than the previous model. According to Komatsu, the new engine and large capacity torque converter delivers higher torque even at lower revs to give the machine maximum efficiency.

Cat has also upgraded its wheeled loader range with the 31 tonne 980H, 25 tonne 972 H and the 23,6 tonne 966H. The new models are up to +7% more fuel efficient and offer +20% more lift capacity than the previous models but the new designs also focuses on improving maintenance. The filter service interval on the machine has been doubled to 1000 hours and the porosity of the filter has also been reduced from 33 to 6 microns. Access to service points has also been improved.

Hyundai's newest wheeled loader was also launched at Intermat. The 30 tonne HL780-7A, which replaces the replaces the HL780-3A, has been upgraded with a new 259 kW ECOT3 engine to meet the new emissions and noise regulations. The dump height of the new model has been increased to 3,4 m and the machine can be fitted with a range of heavy duty buckets up to 5,1 m3 capacity.

According to Hyundai, particular attention has been paid to the insulation to achieve extremely low noise levels. The machine also features a lower engine speed, 2000 rpm, which has helped lower the fuel consumption further. Among the other new features are some operator-friendly options such as joystick steering, ride-control and a dual brake-pedal arrangement. The HL780-7A also has an all-wheel wet-brake system.

Operator comfort and machine serviceability have also been given special attention. Wide-opening access panels give easy access to all major components and there is provision for plug-in laptop PC diagnosis of all the hydraulic and operating functions, in addition to the in-cab diagnostic display for the operator. There is also the option of a reversible fan to ease maintenance of the radiator and coolers.

Liebherr has launched a new range of ‘2plus2' wheeled loaders which are powered by Stage IIIA compliant engines. The new models are the 23 tonne L 566, 23,7 tonne L 576 and 24,5 tonne L 580, which replace the L 564, L 574 and L 580.

While the machines have been restyled, they retain Liebherr's ‘2plus2' fuel saving drive technology. However, the machines have a new cooling and electronic system, and operators will appreciate the +28% bigger cab, which has a more powerful air conditioning unit.

New safety features include a single-part laminated front windscreen, larger external mirrors and four floodlights. Collision protection has also been included in the rear ballast, and the rear lights have been directly incorporated into the ballast for more protection.

Haulers are often the work horses of quarry operations and Volvo has just celebrated 40 years of articulated dump truck (ADT) production with manufacture of its 50000th machine. To celebrate the occasion, the company displayed the milestone machine - painted in ‘Volvo blue' instead of the standard yellow - on its stand at Intermat.

Volvo's first ADT was built around an agricultural tractor with the front axle removed which was linked to a trailer by a permanent articulating hitch and offered a payload capacity of 10 tonnes. Today Volvo offers five models of ADT with pay load capacities ranging from 24 to 37 tonnes.

New Models

Terex, Moxy and JCB have all launched new ADTs this year.

Terex's TA35 and TA40 have been updated with the addition of new Detroit Diesel Series 60 Stage IIIA compliant engines - 298 kW unit for the TA35 and 335 kW for the TA40.

The TA35 has a maximum payload of 32 tonnes and has a heaped capacity of 21 m3, while TA40 can carry up to 36 tonnes or 23 m3. Other improvements to the TA35 and TA40 include automatic limited slip differentials in each axle to add traction and a new front end suspension system to provide a better ride. On the serviceability front, the engine oil change is now every 500 hours and the design features a ground level tilting cab to provide easier access. In the cab, the controls have been ergonomically redesigned with new instrument clusters.

According to Terex product manager Fred Casten, the new TA35 and TA40 ADTs deliver the same performance as the existing TA27 and TA30 models. “We have taken the latest technologies and applied them to our new heavyweight models. The upgraded features on the TA35 and TA40 give customers the power to load more, carry more and dump more.”

Moxy's latest ADT was unveiled at Intermat. The upgraded MT36 is now powered by a Stage IIIA compliant 294 kW Scania engine which is a lower rated version of the 335 kW unit which is used in the MT41. The new MT36 can carry a maximum payload of 32,7 tonnes and has a heaped capacity of up to 21,5 m3.

The new model features independent front suspension, which allows for free movement on one side without movement on the opposite side to give maximum ground contact. Like the MT41, the MT36 will now be fitted with hydraulic multiple wet brakes as standard as well as electronically controlled automatic lubrication.

JCB's new 726 was also launched at Intermat and extends the payload capacity of the company's ADT range to 23,6 tonnes, with a heaped capacity of 14,1 m3. The machine is powered by a 227 kW Stage IIIA engine, which JCB claims gives the ADT a class leading power to weight ratio, and is fitted with a ZF Smoothshift transmission and ZF axles.

ADTs may have gained significant market share in smaller and medium sized quarries but rigid dump trucks (RDTs), which usually have much larger capacities, still have a place in large scale quarries.

Cat's has updated it RDT range with the launch of the three model range F series, offering payloads of between 54,4 and 91 tonnes. The trucks are available with a number of different bodies styles and liner options to allow customers to configure the machine for their specific application.

The 54,4 tonne capacity 773F and 63,5 tonne capacity 775F are powered by Cat C27 engines, which delivers 524 kW in the 773F version and 552 kW in the 775F. The 91 tonne 777F is fitted with a 700 kW C32 engine. The new engines have allowed the service interval on the trucks to be doubled to 500 hours.

Hitachi has also told CE that it is currently working on an upgrading its 75,4 tonne EH750-2 RDT with a new engine and new cabin layout and it is expected to be launched later this year.

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