Pits & Quarries
More than max payload
By Josh Swank
Custom truck bodies reduce truck and equipment maintenance expenses
By Josh Swank
Mining operation managers often consider custom truck bodies as a means to help maximize payload and overall productivity. However, in addition to boosting capacity and improving efficiency, custom bodies can also provide significant savings through reduced maintenance and extended equipment life. By addressing not only payload, but also weight distribution, equipment wear and maintenance costs, custom bodies can provide substantial ROI, faster than expected.
Typically, rigid-frame haul trucks are designed to carry one-third of a load’s weight on the front axle and two-thirds on the back. When loading standard bodies, however, operators often centre the load too far forward in order to prevent spillage. By continually loading materials toward the front, additional stress is put on the chassis, axles, front tires, suspensions and hydraulic systems. Front tires, for example, can only support so much weight before they blow or rim damage occurs.
By optimizing weight distribution, custom bodies can extend the life of front tires by as much as 40 per cent. With most mining truck tires costing upward of $10,000 apiece, and some larger ones topping out at $100,000, the savings add up quickly. Combine those costs with the downtime associated with replacing tires and the impact can be devastating to the bottom line.
Extended service life
With the intense, around-the-clock beating that off-highway trucks receive, it’s important that they are up to the task. To help, some manufacturers run steel bolsters from side to side under the body floor, as opposed to bolsters being butt-welded to the frame rail. These bodies also run the bolsters through the frame rails, doubling up on the “sweet spot” within the centre floor section. Intersecting the bolsters with the frame rails creates a super-structure that won’t buckle under the weight of high-capacity loads.
This design is often coupled with some of the strongest steel in the world to further extend the life of the truck. Within higher performing bodies, the steel is used only where necessary — the greatest load and impact areas — to provide durability without sacrificing payload. Constructing the bodies in such a fashion can increase the life of a truck by 25 to 30 per cent.
A perfect match
Custom bodies can also be designed to complement a site’s loading equipment. Matching the body to the height and style of loader helps to reduce damage to both the truck and loading equipment. Widening the body to allow the loading equipment to reach the floor of the body can further help by lowering the drop height and reducing the risk of equipment damaging the sides of the body. Dropping the load from a lower height can reduce the impact on the floor by as much as 30 per cent.
From extending the service life of expensive equipment, to reducing downtime and preventative wear, the benefits of custom bodies can add up quickly, and are certainly not limited to improved efficiency.
Josh Swank is the vice-president of sales and marketing for Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc.