Schlam’s herculean achievement

Schlam’s Hercules dump bodies latest design is the result of continuous innovation for the company.

Schlam’s Hercules dump bodies may not look much different than they did when they were first manufactured almost 20 years ago, but the latest design is the result of continuous innovation.

The idiom “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can be somewhat misleading. It can easily be understood to imply a lack of ambition or desire to improve.

In the case of Schlam rolling out the 1500th unit of its Australian-made Hercules dump bodies, that way of thinking couldn’t be less accurate.

“In the past there has been a perception amongst some that we aren’t very innovative because our main product’s been leading the pack for so long; however nothing could be further from the truth,” Schlam sales manager Tom Smith told Australian Mining.

Schlam officially delivered its 1500th Hercules to a customer in New South Wales in May –again underlining its knack for innovation to provide its customers with the best possible product.

“Schlam could not have reached this milestone without the input of our customers,” Smith said. “We follow our products into the field and collaborate with clients to solve their specific payload challenges.

“If those improvements are seen to have a positive impact in a broad range of conditions, then they are adopted in future generations of the Hercules.

“Our focus on customer services and after-sales support is the main ingredient in our recipe for success.”

Now in its 14th iteration after first being manufactured in Australia in 2003, to an outside observer the silhouette of the Hercules has remained consistent in that time. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t evolved. Specifically, it’s continued to move away from the traditional heavier bodies seen in similar equipment.

As Schlam says, using a traditional heavier dump body means “you’re carrying steel when you should be carrying ore”.

“The weight of the body has reduced, allowing us to increase capacity and ensure our clients are maximising the payload potential of their haul fleet,” Smith said. “Schlam has options for bodies up to 10 tonnes lighter than competitors with comparable floor thicknesses.”

According to Smith, the benefits of a lightweight dump body are significant, but “quite simple”.

“Decreased body weight means an increased payload potential, enabling a mine site to either haul the same amount of material using fewer truck hours or haul more material with the same number of truck hours,” he explained. “Either way, the operating cost per tonne is dramatically reduced.”

It’s important to note, however, that lighter doesn’t mean weaker. This is an especially important attribute for the often-harsh environment of an Australian mine site.

“Our lightweight bodies have a long history of performing in high-impact and high-abrasion environments for over 50,000 operating hours,” Smith said.

“Once upon a time, mining companies wanted dump bodies that lasted as long as their truck. This made them heavy and limited their payload potential.

“We changed the status quo by offering a product that drastically increased payload and removed or drastically reduced the requirement for on-site wear mitigation installation events.

“With the launch of the Hercules EXO body, we’ve changed the script again.”

The Hercules EXO is a 240-tonne dump body specifically designed for iron ore. It features an ultralight body that utilises a 25mm floor to maximise body wear life and is designed to combine the benefits of a lighter body that maximises payload with one that has a long lifespan.

“The combination of these features means that a miner can potentially have a 25-tonne body that only requires replacing every six years, rather than a 30-tonne body that requires replacing every three years,” Smith said.

The EXO was developed in collaboration with BHP.

“At the end of Schlam’s previous contract with the miner, BHP requested a lighter version of the current design with a weight reduction of 400–600kg per body,” Bradford said. “Instead, Schlam reduced the weight of each tray by 4.5 tonnes.”

The company redesigned the previous Hercules to reduce the weight of all non-wearing components.

“These improvements have added up to a dump body that is proven to be lighter and have an increased service life compared to previous designs suited to the same application,” Smith said.

“Since mining companies are all too aware of their carbon footprint … this is a massive ESG (environmental, social and governance) benefit.

“While Schlam has an engineering and innovation mindset, it’s our customer service that the company prides itself on. If fact, Schlam’s purpose is ‘to make the customer experience exceptional’.”

That commitment to customers is central to the company’s plans for its rapidly growing services division, Schlam People Solutions, which provides HD mechanics, boilermakers, auto-electricians, and other skilled labour.

This feature appeared in the July issue of Australian Mining.

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