Moving into the 21st century

If a miner from the 60s or 70s strolled on to a site now, they wouldn’t notice too many changes to the design of rigid haul trucks.

While their capabilities, safety, and mechanics have changed immensely, the basic shape of these trucks really hasn’t differed too much over the last fifty years.

Until now.

German firm ETF Mining Trucks is looking to completely re-design the rigid haul truck for the 21st century.

It has named these new concept trucks the MT range, and they are built to have payloads of between 80, 125, 155, and 218 tonnes.

ETF’s main focus is its MT-240, of which it has already created an early prototype model.

In creating a new mine truck, the firm looked at a number of aspects, mainly: increased product haulage; reduced haulage costs; improved safety; high environmental standards, as well as at innovation.

One unusual aspect of the new trucks is the maintenance and repair system, which can allow for the fast change of major components.

According to ETF, the MT range features integrated predictive maintenance programs and an "F-1 pit stop approach" to repair.

Firstly, it informs the operator and workshop of any faults, allowing the truck to return to the vehicle maintenance yard, which is already aware of the issue and are prepared to solve it.

Importantly, "components are able to be exchanged and taken to the workshop, allowing the truck to return to production within 15 to 45 minutes of maintenance beginning," the company says.

This allows all of the maintenance and repair work to be carried out in a workshop, without the truck. Wheels, engines and cabins can be changed out in 15 minutes while entire axles are replaced within 45 minutes.

The components are also tested before going back onto the haul trucks, allowing for repair mistakes to be corrected without any extra downtimes.

The axles themselves, apart from the quick change ability, also have another rather unique feature.

ETF states that the MT range of haul trucks have an automatic axle lift, which alternates the axles touching the ground and lifts tyres when unloaded to the reduce energy consumption for unused axles.

When the trucks suffer from flat tyres, the entire axle is able to automatically lift from the ground, reducing drag on the vehicle and further damage to the tyres.

The company claims that these developments mean tyre wastage is nearly halved.

On top of this, it also has the advantage of oscillating axles, which provides equal tyre loading and greater stability over rough and uneven terrains – like those typically found on mine site haul roads.

This increased stability reduces vehicle swaying, which in turn reduces spillage.

It also eliminates frame racking.

With all-wheel steering across the 20 tyres of the ETF MT-240, as opposed to a Cat 793D’s six tyres, it provides a greater wheel load spread, improves maneuvoerability and provides a reduction in tyre scrubbing.

However, its not just the undercarriage of the truck that has been changed, the driver’s cabin has also been completely re-designed.

The ROPS and FOPS three seat cabin now provides greater visibility as well as a unique approach to training.

In regards to operator visibility, the new trucks feature two mirror cameras, one forward camera, a reversing camera, and dual range radar for operator assistance.

The operator is provided with a 180 degree line of sight, with a natural view one metre from the cabin.

The cabin itself is fully pressurised, has insulated glazing and comes with both a left and right entrance.

It provides safe operator training during production as it allows for an extra steering wheel and brake handle for a trainer, giving new drivers real first hand experience.

Driving is also safer due to a sleep deterrent system; proximity alerts and collision warning systems; electronic stability control; enhanced vehicle lights, and a factory fitted fire suppression system as standard.

A completely left of field aspect of these trucks that isn’t standard on other mining haul trucks is its self loading ability.

Once arranged in a haul train, where up to four of the MT range can be attached to one another and operated by a single driver, these trucks are capable of moving large payloads of between 397 to 794 tonnes.

These trucks are able to operate simultaneously, with all dumping at the same time.

That’s nearly 800 tonnes dumped in the space of three and half minutes.

ETF also claims that the MT range is more environmentally friendly than other haul trucks currently available on the market.

It states that the trucks have between 15 to 25% fewer carbon emissions, due in part to its lower fuel consumption.

However, ETF will not be selling these trucks any time soon; instead it has announced the MT range will be available for rent on 83 000 hour contracts.

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