How clear haul roads lead to boosted production

By |  March 18, 2020
Tech hauling Philippi-Hagenbuch

Tailgates optimize a truck’s loading zone, helping to improve weight distribution and reduce the risk of spillage. Photo: Philippi-Hagenbuch

Mining operations all have essentially the same goals: to increase payload, decrease downtime and get the longest possible service life from equipment.

Reaching these goals, however, is dependent on a number of factors, with haul road conditions playing a major role.

Rigid haul trucks require well-maintained roads to reduce tire wear and extend the overall operating life of trucks. Anyone who spends their day at a mine knows that even the best roads can be narrow and littered with spillage, making them hard to navigate and posing risks to the trucks and other equipment at the site.

Whether it’s aggregate or other material, the overall success of an operation can be tied to the condition of haul roads.

While hauling material typically receives more attention than road maintenance, the reality is, the two are inseparable. By loading trucks to the max, operations can increase output. However, if trucks are so full that they risk spilling material onto the haul road, they reach a tipping point where overall production does not necessarily increase.

Closing haul roads to clear debris results in lost production, as time and workers must be diverted from driving haul trucks to operating graders. Instead of toeing the line between spilling material and running trucks below rated capacity, many turn to custom truck bodies and options to maximize output while keeping roads clear.

Custom solutions

Tech hauling Philippi-Hagenbuch

Some manufacturers offer custom truck bodies with higher sidewalls to reduce spillage on haul roads without sacrificing load capacity. Photo: Philippi-Hagenbuch

Custom truck bodies can be designed with higher sidewalls, tailgates, optimized loading zones and other features to reduce spillage without sacrificing load capacity. The right body can reduce the amount of debris on haul roads and, in turn, time and money spent clearing roads – as well as the number of tires needing replacement each year.

Ultimately, clean roads allow operations to focus more resources on moving product instead of clearing roads and repairing equipment.

To reduce spillage, some operations choose truck bodies with higher sidewalls. This is a solution for many operations, but, keep in mind that higher sidewalls will raise a truck’s center of gravity and the added height can create difficulty for certain loading equipment.

Sideboard extensions serve as an economical alternative to custom high-wall bodies and are one of the easiest methods to increase truck capacity. Aftermarket sideboards are especially useful when hauling light materials and can increase sidewall height by anywhere from 6 in. to 36 in.

Another solution is to design bodies with outwardly tapering sidewalls as opposed to higher sidewalls. This is a common feature on articulated truck bodies. Outwardly tapering sides provide a lower center of gravity and better load release while increasing capacity and decreasing spills. Similar to higher sidewalls, their success can hinge on how compatible they are with other equipment at the mine.

Tailgates are another popular choice that can be added to existing truck bodies to reduce spillage. Though not intentional, loading a unit without a tailgate often results in less material on the truck in order to prevent spillage out the back. This loading technique can sacrifice as much as 10 to 15 percent per load.

Tailgates also optimize the loading zone by providing a better target so loaders can dump materials in the middle of the body, improving weight distribution and further reducing the risk of spillage. Without tailgates, loader operators avoid spillage by placing more of the materials toward the front of the bed, which puts immoderate stress on the chassis, axles, front tires, suspension and hydraulic systems.

Optimizing the loading target and weight distribution can reduce spillage and extend a tire’s service life by as much as 40 percent.

Of course, general wear and tear is only part of the problem tires face when materials spill onto haul roads. Navigating over and around debris can damage, puncture or ruin tires as well as impact truck suspension systems.

Tech hauling Philippi-Hagenbuch

Rigid haul trucks require well-maintained roads to reduce tire wear and extend the overall operating life of trucks. Photo: Philippi-Hagenbuch

In some large mines, anywhere from 10 to 100 tires are replaced per month because of damage from haul road debris. With most mining truck tires costing upward of $10,000 – plus additional costs for downtime associated with repairs and replacement – the impact can be devastating.

Bottom-line boost

Custom bodies, higher sideboards and tailgates are easy solutions to improve haul road conditions and boost production. For around-the-clock operations, it all equates to workers spending more time hauling material and less time piling on overhead expenses.

By sourcing custom solutions, managers are quick to realize that additional profits are there for the taking.

Josh Swank is vice president of sales and marketing at Philippi-Hagenbuch.

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