Engineering excellence extends machine life

Australian Mining sat down with Bradken to discuss the evolution of its undercarriage to enhance Liebherr R9800 machines.

Across more than 40 years of undercarriage production, Bradken has sold in excess of 250,000 crawler shoes to the global mining market.

The company designs and manufactures undercarriage solutions that optimise customer operations, with a focus on critical deliverable areas, such as total cost of ownership advantage, quality assurance and reliability.

Bradken has long been the manufacturer for the OEM. From 2007 to 2021, Bradken seamlessly designed and supplied crawler shoes for Liebherr’s R9800 excavator, equivalent to more than 65 full machine fitments for mining customers.

The company can now offer its R9800 undercarriages direct to the market, providing customers with the advantages of working with the company, as designer and manufacturer of the component, first-hand.

And given Bradken’s comprehensive service offering, customers have not only been able to gain access to a quality product, but also the after-sales support that comes with it.

“We have an experienced field crew that monitors undercarriage equipment,” Bradken sales manager Stuart Hipkins told Australian Mining.

“We can predict end-of-life for undercarriage components, and we can deliver on-demand service by monitoring a customer’s platform in-field, free of charge.

“Given this is a high-capital-purchase product, customers benefit from having a Bradken representative assess their undercarriage, utilising decades of experience in varying conditions around the globe, rather than someone internally who might not have the specialist knowledge.”

Bradken provides preventive maintenance support, with customers able to accurately address pain points and schedule shutdowns, meaning greater uptime for their R9800.

“Liebherr’s R9800 excavator is often one of the most important pieces of equipment on a mine site, so having uninterrupted availability of that machine is critical,” Hipkins said.

“Any unplanned downtime or maintenance on that component would cost any mine lots of money.

“We’re able to manage the whole process, with wear-monitoring technology enabling the customer to understand the wear and performance of an undercarriage.

The ultimate goal of wear monitoring is to reduce total cost of ownership of an R9800 undercarriage, extending the life of the asset and limiting the amount of capital spent on maintenance and upkeep.

Hipkins said Bradken has seen some of its R9800 undercarriages last 5–7 years out in the field.

“We believe we’re a world leader in undercarriage solutions, and certainly a suitable component supplier for the mining market,” Hipkins said.

“Our enhancements deliver tangible benefits for our customers.”

More than a decade of collaboration and research and development (R&D) has seen Bradken optimise the track and tumbler, delivering substantial improvements in the track reliability of the R9800 shoe.

Some proven features include deep induction hardened roll path and the use of Bradken’s high-strength proprietary alloy. The rollers and idlers are also available in grease or oil-filled configurations, with multiple ports in each end block for easy lubrication flushing.

Customers who work directly with Bradken can be rest assured that they are receiving products and service support directly from the manufacturer.

“We have gained decades of product knowledge,” Bradken global marketing manager Rochelle Wade told Australian Mining.

“And we have our R&D and innovation teams working in the background, always looking at ways to improve our design and engineering approach to meet a wide range of conditions and customer requirements.

“We are constantly looking at the conditions, what’s happening with the wear life and considering if there are ways to improve design or material to withstand those.”

With the R9800 undercarriage, Bradken has developed a fundamental component for a critical piece of mining machinery.

But the company is not finished innovating, with more advancements in the pipeline set to further extend the product’s wear life, ensuring customers can keep their Liebherr R9800 excavators on the park for longer.

This feature appeared in the May 2024 issue of Australian Mining.

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