Taking down the long hilly terrain from the nondescript town of Kothagudem in Telengana, the SUV maneuvers its way through rutted slushy, uneven path reaching an open cast mine, revealing itself as a hive of activity. Continuously moving Volvo tippers slopping overburden materials wheeze their way to the dumping yard above the deep excavated surface mine below the ground surface. Graders grade the road surface connecting the excavation area to the dumping ground to prevent occurrence of any undulation and water tanker constantly sprinkle water to enhance dust suppuration. Dozers work unceasingly to level out the overburden materials unloaded in the dumping area. This is Yellandu JKOC – 5 open cast mine of Singraneni Coal Fields (SCCL) Limited in the state of Telengana, the spot of Volvo Trucks sixth edition of 'India Fuel Watch' competition using the Volvo FMX 440 8X4 Classic which has manual transmission with 18.7 cu.m body capacity and the New Volvo FMX 440 8X4 I-Shift which has automated transmission with 19.5 cu.m body capacity.
Yellandu mines were selected by Volvo Trucks for the Fuel Watch competition owing to its steep gradients, and large volumes of overburden materials to be hauled through the rock bodied trucks. This allowed Volvo to test the drivers in the toughest conditions to derive the desired optimum fuel efficiency through the trucks. The ability of Volvo tipper trucks was indubitably showcased to deliver value on total cost of operations, precisely on fuel consumption, in accordance to the objective of the event.
The elements of the competition involved drivers making a total four round trip of approximately five kilometers each. 15 drivers, participated in the event, driving the vehicle under same operating conditions, covering total distance of twenty kilometers, with no variations carried on the load of the vehicle.
There were four trips made by each driver, two on empty and two on fully loaded tippers. The volumes of overburden of the trucks participating in the competition were loaded as per International Fuelwatch standard and were more or less similar to the one prescribed for standard mining operations.
Before embarking on the trip, the trip meter of the tipper trucks was set to zero. Following the end of each trip, data on fuel consumption was down loaded using Dynafleet Online trip manager which eliminated any human error arising out of manual reading. During the competition, the fuel average of only the drive time was taken eliminating the idle hour fuel consumption to precisely derive the ability of the drivers to deliver fuel economy. An average of all the trips was taken to decide the winner of this edition of Fuelwatch.
As a precursory initiative, driver training was conducted by Volvo prior to the competition. Further, traffic planning was carried in the mines, so as not to hamper regular production and working of other customer's equipment at the site. Winner of the 'India Fuelwatch 2015' was P Ravi, SV Engineering Construction. First runner up was Kameshwar Rao, Mahalakshmi Infracontracts and the second runner up was D Ganapathi, Sushee Infra. The fuel-efficiency difference of the best and the worst driver from the group was 15.4%.
Commenting on the event, Mr. Vikram Reddy of S. V. Engineering Construction, fleet owners of Volvo tipper trucks and main contractor for hauling of overburden at Yellandu mines said, "These events for past 6 years have been highly beneficial as it allows us to improve productivity of drivers to deliver fuel economy through better driving practices. Profit margin is always under pressure at the Yellandu open cast mines. Improved fuel economy can always improve the margins. This is as because fixed sum is allocated by SCCL for fuel, based on which usually we have to move larger volumes of overburden set by the mining company."
S.V. Engineering possesses 200+ Volvo tippers. Total 60 vehicles (40 nos - FM 400 and 20 nos - FMX 440 Classic) are operational at JKOC -5. SCCL has outsourced the overburden clearance job to the company where a target has been set to move seven million tons of overburden materials by 2018. Presently 12 lakh cubic meter of overburden is removed per month with average of 530 engine hours per vehicle per month. The lead distance from mine to the dump site is 6 kms.
Participating at the event top SCCL officials pointed out, "Achieving fuel economy is essential through the equipment at the Yellandu site, so as to ensure profitability to the mine. This is because, the coal extracted from the mines have low gross calorific value. This always makes it challenging to have the desired profitability from the mining operations. Initiatives like Fuel Watch Competition is always beneficial towards building up the skills of the equipment operators to ensure fuel savings resultantly delivering better returns."