Behind the increasing production of Australian mines are reliable equipment manufacturers like Schlam. And behind Schlam’s market-leading dump bodies is the strength of SSAB Swedish Steel.
These two companies have been aligned for several years, allowing for faster delivery of products and expertise.
Schlam’s Hercules dump bodies are going from strength to strength, owing to SSAB’s supply of its Hardox wear plate for extreme abrasion resistance.
Schlam sales manager Tom Smith says the foundations of their long-standing relationship was not a signature, but simply reliable steel.
“The relationship with SSAB started because they’ve got a fantastic name in the marketplace,” Smith tells Australian Mining.
“We’ve explored what they can do for us and over time they’ve become our primary supplier. There are no agreements between our companies to formalise this.
“We use them because they have a great product, a great reputation, and they look after us with both collaboration and fantastic technical support.”
The latest addition to the Hardox range is Hardox 500 Tuf, well-suited to all kinds of dump bodies, buckets, containers, and other equipment exposed to heavy wear in the mining and agriculture industries.
Smith says he couldn’t believe how well Hardox 500 Tuf performed.
“The transition from Hardox 450 to 500 Tuf has been an exciting one,” Smith says. “SSAB released it to the market a few years ago, and personally, I was one of the most sceptical of the product on the advertised benefits of Hardox 500 Tuf.
“It didn’t sit right with me; it didn’t seem real. But we’ve tested it extensively at Schlam and it has performed as advertised and, in some applications, it actually exceeded expectations.”
Hardox 500 Tuf builds upon its predecessors in a few key areas – chiefly, material grade.
Smith explains there are three things that matter in the body design for a customer: body weight, floor thickness and material grade.
“We strongly believe we cannot be matched by our competitors, and our steel selection and body design are the reason why,” he says.
“The unique design of Schlam’s Hercules HX dump body allows us to reduce weight whilst keeping the steel thickness where it is required, namely in the floor.”
Simply, if a miner has less weight in the truck body per load, they won’t require as many truck hours, Smith explains.
“We’ve found removing an additional five tonne per load on a typical 240-tonne truck generally saves upwards of $50,000 per year in operating costs,” he says.
“By utilising the Hercules, you can potentially upgrade your floor from 20 millimetres (mm) quenched and tempered 450 to 25mm Hardox 500 Tuf without increasing body weight, meaning you increase service life and reduce the carbon impact of your dump body without sacrificing payload.”
While the end user receives major benefits from the use of Hardox 500 Tuf, manufacturers like Schlam are also largely improved by its use.
SSAB area sales manager for Australia and New Zealand, Matthew Spiteri, describes how Hardox 500 Tuf makes Schlam’s life easier.
“The Hardox 500 Tuf workshop properties are very close to Hardox 450 grade, so Schlam doesn’t have to change welding, pressing and cutting procedures, which are vital in an efficient production environment,” Spiteri says.
“Not only that, but our plate compared to other quenched and tempered manufacturers has tighter welding tolerances to benefit end users.
“This means the pre-heat thickness is single plate, reducing the time of pre-heating for Schlam which can improve costs on gas, time and production.”
These efficiencies are equally beneficial to the end user, manufacturers and the environment, as it is becoming increasingly important for all parties within the mining industry.
“We find it to be the next step for the likes of Schlam as it not only improves production, but it improves emissions for increasingly eco-minded mining companies due to the reduced body weight,” Spiteri says.
Also in sustainable steel production, SSAB developed the first fossil-free steel in August 2021 and is continuing to partner with companies globally for its supply over the coming 12 to 18 months.
Spiteri says SSAB achieved its green steel goals far sooner than it hoped.
“By 2026, we aim to have it manufactured quite freely with good, designated partners around the world,” he says.
Without wanting to give too much away, as is the key for any industry leading business, Spiteri says Hardox 500 Tuf wasn’t the last we would be hearing from SSAB.
“We’re always looking to improve our products and so there will be more products that have the Tuf aspect to them in the future,” he concludes.
This article appears in the February issue of Australian Mining.