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What manufacturers are doing to boost haul truck safety

By |  April 4, 2022
Photo: Doosan

Doosan’s DA45-5 articulated dump truck places the operator in the center of the cab for improved visibility. Photo: Doosan

Safety has long been the industry’s top priority.

Aggregate producers, of course, regularly shoot for their production targets. But ensuring employees go home uninjured after every shift is paramount.

Hauling safety in particular is top of mind at the moment, with powered haulage being a top priority at the Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA). According to MSHA’s website, 36 fatalities occurred in mines last year – the first time that count reached 30 or more since 2014. Of the 36 fatalities, 16 (44 percent) were classified as powered haulage accidents.

Additionally, 2022 fatalities are already outpacing 2021. As of March 15, 10 miners died in 2022 accidents versus eight by the same time last year. MSHA classified three of the year’s 10 accidents as powered haulage.

Regarding powered haulage, producers can take a variety of steps to elevate safety. A number of existing solutions are designed to make operations safer.

Visibility

Of the many factors to consider when operating a haul truck, visibility is among the most important.

Haul truck operators must be able to see what’s around them in a quarry to ensure no injuries occur, and manufacturers are designing trucks with this concept in mind.

Doosan’s DA30-5 and DA45-5 articulated dump trucks (ADTs), for example, aim to improve operator visibility. In these ADTs, the operator seat is in the center of the cab to allow for greater visibility in front of the machine. The trucks also come standard with a reverse camera for additional visibility behind the machine.

“[Visibility] is paramount to make sure that operators know where they are and where the machine is, especially on a haul road that has a berm,” says Aaron Kleingartner, product and dealer marketing manager at Doosan Infracore North America. “They need to know exactly where they are at all times.”

PreView Radar, a Sensata Technologies brand formerly known as PRECO Electronics, is another manufacturer that addresses visibility in its offerings. PreView Radar’s technology is designed to alert drivers of hazards in their surroundings, particularly in blind spots.

A haul truck’s blind spots often occur in the front and rear of the machine. Radar technology helps to detect any objects that may be out of sight for operators.

Photo: PreView Radar

PreView Radar, formerly PRECO Electronics, programs its radar technology to detect something as small as a human being on-site. Photo: PreView Radar

“[With] haul trucks, it’s common to do front and rear,” says Sean Martell, North American sales manager at PreView Radar and Sensata Technologies. “Those are two big blind spots, particularly with the bigger haul trucks where you’ve got large blind areas in front and rear of the truck. The operator may get in the cab not aware that somebody is parked in front of the truck, or there’s activity in the blind areas of the truck. So if there is, then the radar will report that.”

Martell says the company’s radar technology is programmed so that its primary target objective is a person. Anything larger is that much easier to detect, but the technology is designed to proactively detect and protect human lives.

“Our primary target objective is a human being,” he says. “That is critical. We don’t want to see any lives lost. A human is really a small target to detect, but that’s how our radars are tuned.”

Limited distractions

A basic way to improve safety when hauling is to reduce distractions for operators.

One method is to incorporate automatic transmission into the trucks. Doosan’s ADTs, for instance, come standard with automatic transmission, so operators can keep their eyes ahead and stay alert.

“The automatic transmission allows the operator to focus on where they’re going, instead of shifting throughout their work cycle,” Kleingartner says. “The machine itself is just designed to give the operator an optimal operating environment.”

Martell points out that haul truck operators are human, too. And while they are typically aware of their surroundings, radar technology helps to fill the gaps that human error causes.

Carly Bemer

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) is the associate editor at Pit & Quarry. She can be reached at 216-363-7930 or cbemer@northcoastmedia.net.

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