Smooth Operators - Steve Skinner reports on developments in the hauler industry

By Steve Skinner02 April 2009

Through the introduction of its ‘E series’ to the A35 (pictured) and A40 models, Volvo will bring au

Through the introduction of its ‘E series’ to the A35 (pictured) and A40 models, Volvo will bring automatic traction control to the largest articulated dump trucks in its range.

Beyond the legislative timetable, new models and concepts are shaping the hauling industry. Steve Skinner reports on developments within the sector and how flexibility in all its forms is influencing the future.

Despite the prospect of stricter engine emissions laws in 2011 and the current global economic conditions, numerous launches this year show that hauler manufacturers are still proactively bringing innovative solutions to market for their customers.

Volvo Construction Equipment will launch its automatic traction control (ATC) system at the Intermat show this month, a system that automatically controls the differential-locks in the drivetrain to improve efficiency and customer value.

"We've had this system on our smaller platforms, the A25 and A30 for the past four years, but with the introduction of the E series to our larger platforms we're now offering it on the A35 and A40 as well," said Per Erik Bergqvist, market and project support manager for Volvo haulers.

"Through ATC we're looking at fuel savings of up to +5% and also a reduction in tyre wear of some -5%," continued Mr Bergqvist.

Later in the year, Volvo will also launch its ‘Transport Solutions' hauler chassis concept on its A25 and A30 platforms. "The Transport Solutions concept means customers will be able to order an articulated hauler without the dump body and tipping cylinders," explained Mr Bergqvist.

"Customers will then have the flexibility to add superstructures of their choice. We have developed certain new options to go with this concept, so if a customer wishes to install a hook lift or some other piece of customised adaptation, the flexibility is there to do so. The key thing is to maintain the flexibility of the base vehicle."

Volvo's Transport Solution concept is a customer driven development that has been seen in some of the company's specialised solutions in the past, but never to this scale. "We can see from our past history that when markets are slowing down the interest and need for customised solutions increase," said Mr Bergquvist. "The timing of this launch is therefore very positive news."

Size matters

Bell too will use the Paris show to launch two new articulated dump trucks (ADTs). The B25DN is a narrow version of the existing B25D, while the B45D is an entirely new model with a 25 m3 capacity, designed to fill the gap between the company's B40D and B50D haulers.

"With the B45D we opted to introduce a completely new machine that will take an additional scoop from a loading excavator," said Stephen Jones, product marketing manager for ADTs. "We also chose a different design philosophy, opting to over-design the B45D in order to attain top production benefits, durability and superior safety."

The B45D is based on Bell's B50D and shares many of the same proven components that have been used in the 50 tonne model for the past seven years. The differential and final drive ratios are the same, as are the shortened rod and barrel of the tip cylinders. The engine too is a 350 kW version of the 390 kW 16 litre Mercedes Benz unit fitted in the B50D.

Wet disk braking on all six wheels and active front suspension will be standard equipment on the B45D which, due to its width and low centre of gravity, offers excellent stability.

The smaller B25DN model to be launched in Paris has been specifically designed for certain European markets. "In France we are seeing a growing need for a narrower ADT for aggregate sites to be used instead of more traditional road trucks," said Mr Jones. "This is in part because ADTs already have roll over protection structures (ROPS) and falling object protective structures (FOPS) certification," explained Mr Jones.

Bell will also introduce the B25DN into European countries in which width restrictions apply for on-road use. "The standard truck is 2,6 m wide, but with the option of 20/5R25 tyres this can be brought down to 2,55 m, thereby meeting width restrictions," said Mr Jones.

Body works

Following its introduction in the US last year, Caterpillar will bring its "expanded capacity" 740 ADT to Europe in 2009. With an increased bin size of 24 m3, the 740 features differential locks that can be engaged and disengaged on-the-move in challenging conditions or on steep grades.

"The oil-cooled clutch disc plates on the differential locks mean the operator simply chooses a level of ‘lock-up' using a dash mounted switch and then activates the system via a foot button," said a Caterpillar spokesperson.

Oil over nitrogen three-point oscillating front suspension protects the 740's chassis from shock loads and improves ride, thus enhancing operator comfort and machine productivity. The rear suspension blocks are designed and manufactured by Caterpillar and life expectancy has been increased five-fold over earlier designs.

The expanded capacity 740 is factory fitted with ‘Cat Product Link' which enables remote monitoring to help keep work on schedule as well as providing maintenance details.

A new body was recently launched by JCB too, when it released the option of a "heated body" on its 6x6 all-wheel drive 20 tonne capacity 722 ADT. "By channelling exhaust heat through the bottom of the body, we have been able to ensure clean and effective material discharge, even in cold climates," said David Bell, managing director of JCB Sales.

JCB offers three ADT models from the 13 tonne capacity 714, through the 16,3 tonne capacity718 to the range-topping 722. "The ADT is an extremely versatile tool and can be adapted to a multitude of applications," said Mr Bell. "As such, while sales in construction have been damaged by the global situation that hit us overnight, we have seen interest from other areas such as waste and recycling."

Autumn compact

Compact haulers may sound like a contradiction, but Danish manufacturer Hydrema has built its reputation in this niche market. The company's largest model is its 20 tonne 922 that was introduced in 2003, while its 10 tonne 912 model has been at the heart of the company's success.

"Because the 912 suits so many different applications and excels in situations where an operator needs low ground pressure, it's been a very successful model for us," Thorkil Iversen, chief of development told CE.

Such has been the popularity of the 912 model, Hydrema will launch an all new 912DS in the autumn this year. "The 912DS is a new suspended ‘comfort' version," said Mr Iversen. "This will increase driver comfort and steering control as well as capacity because the operator will be able to drive faster over rough terrain.

"There has been a great deal of work on the suspension since we started the DS project 18 months ago," Mr Iversen told CE. "The 912DS will be the first ever 10 tonne truck with this level of suspension.

"The fully hydro-dynamic suspension with electronic sensors to activate levelling has been designed ‘in house' and although there are similarities to the 922 model, this suspension has been created specifically for the smaller machine," explained Mr Iversen.

Suspension on a small product is a much more difficult proposition than with a big heavy product according to Mr Iversen. "We had to design a completely new lay-out compared to bigger machines in order to achieve similar levels of comfort," said Mr Iversen.

Hydrema is currently evaluating the 912DS development model at its own purpose built test track where initial results are said to be ‘very exciting'.

"We are now tuning the characteristics of the suspension so that it functions properly when the hauler is either loaded or empty. Although this is a compromise, we are confident that we will achieve superior levels of comfort in either situation," Mr Iversen told CE.

Compatibility

Matching systems and components to provide the optimum solution is a common goal for manufacturers with positive returns for users.

"Care is taken all through the design, engineering and testing process to ensure that all key drive train components are perfectly matched to provide the best return on every litre of fuel consumed," said George McNeil, product manager at Terex Haulers.

"In both our Cummins and MTU powered haulers, we have linked the engine management systems to the transmission's electronic control management to gain optimum performance," said Mr McNeil.

Volvo too is proud of the manner in which it matches components. "We have 100% design control," Mr Bergqvist told CE. "We manufacture all our key components, which enables us to ‘match' the drivetrain to a great extent in terms of gear ratios and internal losses. We use bespoke purpose built ADT components and I believe that is a key advantage of Volvo haulers."

Likewise, Komatsu designs and manufactures all key components ‘in-house'. "We manufacture our own engines, transmissions, axles and hydraulics so that we can offer high reliability," said Koichi Oka, product manager for road equipment.

"We have adopted extensive use of information technology to optimise the efficiency of our entire machines and this includes matching the engine, transmission and drivetrain for optimum performance," Mr Oka told CE.

Pushing performance

Tough market conditions are seeing all manufacturers having to push the performance envelope. "The demand to carry more for less power has led to higher payloads, which in turn places huge stresses on component integrity," said Kevan Dowse, marketing director at Case Construction Equipment.

"We are working to increase levels of reliability and improve the robust nature of our major components," said Mr Dowse.

"All the time, we have to keep the initial purchase price as competitive as possible , which means looking at all of the resources at our disposal, sourcing from all over the world and making innovative use of materials, particularly regards cooling and heat dissipation," Mr Dowse told CE.

Outlook

While the market has clearly been hit by the global downturn in construction activity, the tyre shortage that blighted the sector 12 months ago is no longer an issue and many manufacturers have continued to press ahead with upgrades and new launches.

Engine emissions legislation will drive developments for the foreseeable future, yet recent upgrades show that there could be a great deal more about post 2011 haulers than simply emission compliant engines!

Latest News
Wacker Neuson president to give Off-Highway Conference keynote
Gert Reichetseder, President/CEO of Wacker Neuson North America, will speak in Chicago on 28 September 
Bauma 2022: What access equipment will be on show?
While some major scissor and boom manufacturers have pulled out, Chinese producers will be there in force