Up close with Howard Porter’s 33-axle Superquad

Howard Porter has unveiled a brand-new ‘Superquad Series Three’ road train, calling it the world’s largest combination of its type to date. The new goliath will be hard to miss in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

At face value, designing road train combinations under the Performance-Based Standards (PBS) guidelines in WA’s transport sector can be a complex process, when factoring in the vehicle manufacturer, fleet operator, local councils and various road transport authorities.

To streamline that process, road train specialist Howard Porter, mining services provider, Mineral Resources Limited (MRL) and subsidiary, Process Minerals International (PMI) employ the ‘Superquad Program’.

Officially referred to as the Superquad Series Three, the new model is a descendant of the company’s original Superquad model presented in 2015 and was just delivered to mining services provider, Mineral Resources Limited (MRL).

The system involves the design and development of safer road trains for use on WA’s public highways, as well as the state’s off-road environment. The program also works in conjunction with a number of industry experts and Main Roads WA.

At present, the program has proven successful in rolling out Howard Porter’s PBS-designed Superquad Series road trains. Each combination measures up to 60m in length and can operate on approved routes in WA.

The first combination – a Superquad Series One road train boasting 25 axles and 98 wheels, and designed in conjunction with a number of MRL haulage contractors – was put into service in August 2015.

According to Howard Porter, the new Superquad Series Three road train is a substantial upgrade from its predecessor, with MRL’s new combination fitted with 33 axles and 128 wheels.

“A traditional quad road train’s payload is 108 tonnes,” Roy Lombardi, managing director at Howard Porter, said. “The Superquad Series One represented a 27 per cent increase in payload, which was a major milestone in itself. Now, the new Superquad Series Three will deliver a 50 per cent increase over conventional designs.”

MRL contractor, Bulkline Haulage, will use the Superquad Series Three to haul iron ore from the Iron Valley Mine 345km on the Great Northern Highway route to the Utah Point ship loader at Port Hedland.

“Road users will appreciate the heightened safety in on-road bulk haulage that the new configuration brings to the Pilbara,” said David Geraghty, executive general manager for PMI. “The Superquad delivers greater productivity and improved freight efficiency for the iron ore mining industry.

“Like the first Superquad, this new road train had to undergo a rigorous PBS safety assessment to ensure it is safe to operate on the public road network. Additionally, it is fitted with devices to further enhance its safety,” said David, who also manages the Superquad program. “This includes high performance latest trailer couplings; an Electronic Braking System (EBS) with Roll Stability Control; mechanical speed limitation to 90km/h; an on-board eight camera system; satellite-based real time monitoring with a driver training component; and an infrared ‘animal on road’ alert system.”

According to MRL, the Superquad Series Three configuration is a perfect solution for reducing the number of truck movements in WA, which will in turn lower road wear, carbon emissions and fuel usage.

“The combination is a winner for fellow road users, not least because it is much more environmentally friendly. This is great for business growth in the Pilbara,” David said.

All Superquad Series road trains are designed and manufactured at Howard Porter’s production facility in Spearwood in Perth, where its team of engineers, workers and apprentices directly contribute to the manufacturing process. “Howard Porter has a proven history of innovation and the progression of the Superquad program has certainly made our workforce proud to be part of the journey,” Roy said.

The latest collaboration has MRL excited about the future ahead. “MRL gets a real boost working on the Superquad project since it is involved in manufacturing the largest and safest road train in the world,” David added.

“With advent of the Superquad Series Three – made possible by the Superquad Program and the synergies between MRL, Howard Porter and Bulkline – WA can safely say it is global leader in bulk commodities transport.”

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