Choosing a truck body

By |  September 19, 2016

Thorough evaluation is key to strong operations. Constantly reviewing employees, processes and equipment ensures a company’s profit margins are as large as possible. Trucks run around the clock every day of the year in quarries, so it’s nearly impossible to pull the nose from the grindstone long enough to provide thorough analysis. Fortunately, some manufacturers took a long, hard look at the process and engineered equipment to make aggregate hauling efficient and profitable. One key piece? Truck bodies.

It might appear that truck bodies don’t differ much from one design to another, but take a moment to speak with an operator about the pain in his or her day and it’ll be clear that not all bodies are created equal. Each day, operators load and unload countless amounts of aggregate in relatively similar looking trucks. Company goals might all be the same — increase payload, decrease downtime and get the best lifespan from the truck — but the outcome in each quarry depends on the equipment used.

High-performance, aggregate-specific truck bodies address three major challenges in the aggregate industry. First, they’re engineered for minimal maintenance and a long lifespan, creating the best possible return on investment. Second, they withstand highly abrasive material while minimizing carryback and maintenance. And third, they maximize the truck’s full capacity to increase potential profit.

Optimize hauling

Photo courtesy of Philippi-Hagenbuch

Tapering the body from the front to the back decreases wear and carryback potential on the body sides. Photos courtesy of Philippi-Hagenbuch

In the United States alone, aggregate production more than quadrupled in the past 50 years, with more than 2 billion tons used annually. With such large production numbers, it makes sense that aggregate hauling equipment continuously becomes more efficient as technology improves.

Trucks have a finite carrying capacity, part of which is the machine weight. And in a perfect design, the amount of aggregate to be hauled would consume the rest of the capacity limit.

High-performance body manufacturers maximize truck-hauling capacity and provide the highest possible payload by considering factors such as height and width restrictions, as well as loading equipment. For example, bodies are wider to match up with the loading equipment shovel or bucket, allowing for a large loading target and a quick load rate. Some manufacturers also examine the natural angles of repose, or how materials lay, to maximize payload capacity and reduce material spillage.

Engineers focus on a proprietary process for high-performance bodies that remove unnecessary steel. By doing so, additional features, such as greater width and a more substantial floor bolster system, don’t weigh bodies down. Removing any unnecessary weight significantly increases hauling productivity and contributes to a fully utilized capacity. Customizing bodies also aids in productivity by ensuring minimal maintenance and carryback.

Cut the carryback

Photo courtesy of Philippi-Hagenbuch

Hydrophobic steel strategically placed in common sticking points virtually eliminates material carryback.

In an industry where trucks run around the clock, 365 days of the year, productivity is the last thing that should be sacrificed. To ensure job productivity stays high, bodies that can handle highly abrasive, sticky material, while minimizing carryback become a huge benefit.

Innovative construction continues with the load-containing portion of high-performance aggregate bodies. Hydrophobic steel liners and high-abrasion liners provide durability against abrasive materials while ensuring as much hauled material as possible leaves bodies during dumping. Often, the aggregate-and-soil-mixed payload becomes sticky and bridges across the front of bodies, decreasing productivity by eating away at the total capacity until bodies are cleaned. However, hydrophobic material, as the name suggests, repels moisture. Manufacturers place it in key parts of the bodies, specifically in areas where carryback begins, reducing the likelihood that material will build up.

Body-side top rails reinforce sides and eliminate the potential for material to build up within the sidewalls. This can impact the truck’s overall carrying capacity.

Tapering bodies also decrease wear and carryback on the sides. When bodies are narrower at the front than the back, materials release immediately when dumped and slide straight out without scraping the sides, virtually eliminating the potential for weighted carryback. Such a design also allows the extra weight capacity to reinforce other areas of the truck bodies that generally receive the most wear.

Prevent damage

Photo courtesy of Philippi-Hagenbuch

A lifting-eye system reduces stress on the body sidewalls, enhancing safety and lowering the required lifting height.

Minimizing servicing downtime is key to increasing productivity. Customizing high-performance bodies to the quarry’s specifications increases loading safety and greatly reduces the potential for loading damage by ensuring width is correctly paired with the loading tool. This provides the lowest possible loading height and allows the shovel to get closer to the floor of bodies, nearly eliminating the chances that loading equipment will damage the sides.

The wide bodies also provide the truck operator with well-balanced weight distribution. Improved weight distribution benefits the life of truck bodies and tires by eliminating the potential for wearing on specific areas. With the weight distributed equally across all of the tires, it reduces the potential for uneven wear.

Taking berm height into consideration, engineers design truck bodies so they do not fall below the center of the wheels, or the height of the berm, at full dump. This ensures ample clearance and helps eliminate tail damage that might occur when dumping into a pile.

Extend body life

Photo courtesy of Philippi-Hagenbuch

Lift systems that integrate with a body floor reduce stress on the body’s sides and eliminate the potential of bowing.

Custom bodies may have intersecting bolsters and frame rails that offer increased support that won’t buckle under the immense weight of quarried materials, keeping the payload at maximum capacity.

Within high-performance bodies, steel is used only where it’s needed — at the greatest load containing areas. Even in intense environments, after hauling hundreds of thousands of tons to and from quarries, high-strength steel doesn’t show signs of wearing thin. In fact, constructing bodies in such a fashion typically increases the life of the trucks by 25 to 30 percent.

Evaluating processes and making changes that potentially boost success rates, improve efficiency and reduce costs should be first on the list of any operation — especially those that run around the clock. In the case of quarry operations, custom, durable machines increase productivity rates and decrease maintenance downtime and carryback potential, all while increasing a truck’s life. It’s a focus that’s boosting profit margins and ROI significantly for aggregate companies while helping each grow raw production rates.

Using the right equipment and evaluating daily operations makes achieving efficient operations easy. Though it may seem like a lengthy process, the ROI is worth it in the long haul.

Josh Swank, vice president of sales and marketing for Philippi-Hagenbuch, oversees the mining industry sales group and has been with the company for 12 years. 

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