Indian quarry owners are developing multiple and often flexible trains to match assorted and rapid changing requirements of the aggregates industry. This is increasingly calling for loading and hauling in the shortest possible time and cost-effective manner. However, with competition getting intense in quarry operation in India, owners are also looking towards other value-added solutions and services to attain maximum cost reduction for every tons of stone extracted, hauled, and loaded. P.P. Basistha, dwells into the newer advancements, wheel loaders makers having been carrying out to fit into the emerging requirements order.
The government's decision to develop 1,25,000 kms of National Highways over the period of next five years, along with state highways and development of road network in the country's North East, augurs well for the Indian quarry owners. The road development projects will witness colossal volumes based, multidimensional aggregates requirements. However, the demand will be characterized by intensified competition among quarry owners, calling for enhanced, cost-effective operations than the present levels.
To tide over competition, quarry owners are adding up their product lines by setting up multiple trains. Optimization of operations - by large, medium, and small operators - is another major initiative being carried on the processing part. At par, operators are exploring varied options to drive advancements in material handling, for hauling, loading, and stockpiling the processed materials. Material handling is an integrated and vital constituent of any quarry operations, entailing sizeable capital and recurring operational expenditure during lifecycle of the plant.
With four crushing plants in Uttarakhand, LSC Infratech owes the distinction as one of the biggest fixed crushing plant owners in India, with cumulative capacity to produce 4.5 million tons per annum (mtpa) of crushed aggregates and 2 mtpa of manufactured sand.
LSC's each plant produces 6000 tones materials per day, whereas the achievable capacity is 8000 tpd. The plants have an installed capacity of 500 tph and produce aggregates in seven sizes, 5-8 mm, 8-17mm, 14-22mm, 35-42mm, 42-65mm, and 65-90 mm, mainly for new road projects. 50% of the crushed aggregates are off taken by the road construction sector, 30% for infrastructure and real estate sector, 10% by RCC industry and remaining 10% by the railways.
These mega crushing plants exhibit precise and rigorous application orientation, therefore, wheel loaders need to match for present colossal handling of aggregates in line with operational optimization. The company is the biggest Liugong wheel loaders fleet owner with 14 numbers of Liugong, CLG, 856, 5tons, 3cum and two smaller ZL, 30, two units 3 tons, 1.6 cum bucket wheel loaders.
All the wheel loaders and other material handling equipment at all the four plants operate for 300 days, between 12-15 hours a day. Based on usage, equipment reliability, lower maintenance, and optimum performance, supported by appropriate product support is vital for LSC. "Getting timely product support for plant operators like us, handling large quantities of processed minerals is crucial. Equipment failure can severely disrupt our entire production chain. For this, we prefer manufacturers, having established manufacturing facility, marketing, sales, and support network in India. We selected Liugong for the same reason, as it has an established manufacturing facility in Indore in Central India backed by elaborate warehouse in contrast to other Chinese manufacturers present in the country," mentions Mr. Agarwal.
He adds, "Since the medium sizes of plants of 180-200tph in India handle colossal volumes to have higher margins over the operating costs, the loaders are engineered to handle 450 tons+ aggregates/hour. Our loaders have clocked 16-18 hours per day of continued operation with large size plants & 5800-6000 hrs of operation annually. Reliability of the equipment are ensured through Liugong's own axles imported from our parent plant in China and ZF transmissions."
Mr. Mehrotra says, "Owing to undulated conditions in many quarry sites in India, our loaders feature ROPS / FOPS cabin, safety struts, audio visual alarm, adjustable steering wheel, electronic surveillance system, etc. The other features include centralized automatic lubricating system, automatic bucket return to dig, and automatic boom height kick control for lower cycle time."
To minimize fuel costs, LSC acquired four TWL 3034 hydrostatic Telcon Hitachi wheel loaders in 2013 and has plans to purchase three more units. Mr. Agarwal says, "We have carefully studied the operating features of the loaders before purchasing them. These loaders come with hydrostatic drive as compared to other hydrodynamic wheel loaders. The hydrostatic drive, which functions both as clutch and transmission, eliminates clutch and transmission related losses resultantly providing high levels of fuel efficiency." HSD technology uses fluid under pressure to transmit engine power to drive the wheels.
He elaborates, "JCB wheel loaders are fitted with fuel efficient engines and ZF Transmission. This enables the machines to productively work for hours. The machines also have robust structures to make them work reliably for years. JCB 430ZX Plus is ideal in smaller and medium size quarries whereas 432ZX is popular in large quarries. The newly launched– 430ZX plus has the saving potential of more than 2 lacs in 3 years and is fitted with an advanced telematics technology – the live link allowing our customers to monitor their machines even from remote locations."
JCB India offers three wheel loader models 430ZX, 432ZX and the recently added 430ZX Plus. 430ZX has 3.3ton payload with 1.7 cum bucket (for quarry applications). It is powered by 130hp@2,200 rpm (JCB Common Rail). 432ZX, fitted with 150hp Cummins Engine, delivering 2,200rpm comes with 3.650tons payload capacity and 2.1cum bucket for quarry operations. 430ZX Plus, powered by 133hp, Ashok Leyland Hino-Series engines, comes with 3.3tons payload, 1.7cum bucket for quarry operations.
According to Mr. Gossain, "To ensure ease of operation, we have introduced ergonomically placed operator controls, servo controls and machines with option of air conditioning. For the operators, we also offer a kick down button on operating lever for quick interchange of 1st & 2nd gear. Our 430ZX Plus and 430ZX Loaders are fitted with 14x25-20PR heavy duty tyres and 432ZX Wheel Loader with 17.5x25-20PR heavy duty tyres. These tyres are suitable for operations in undulated quarry ground conditions. ZF Transmission and rugged heavy duty axles give more value to our customers."
He adds, "Depending on the density of material to be handled, we have buckets ranging from 1.7cum to 3.0cum in the 432ZX and 2.1cum and 3.1cum in the 432ZX. These buckets are easily interchangeable and allow the flexibility that is desired in case one machine is to be used for multiple aggregates handling applications at quarries."
Mr. Gossain says, "Our network of 60 dealers and over 600 outlets employing 5,000 dedicated personnel for after sales support provides requisite support to wheel loaders working at quarries. The personnel are regularly trained by JCB India to ensure that they are abreast with the latest in the industry. Our dealers have made strategic investments in setting up world class infrastructure/facilities, which are at par with JCB global standards.
In India, Doosan is promoting SD200, SD310, DL450 & DL550 in India. They have 18 dealers in India and they provide onsite support for the loaders working in quarries.
He adds, "To ensure fuel efficient operations, the operator can cut off the engine by setting the engine for auto shut off, if allowed to idle beyond a certain time limit. Stability to the equipment is delivered by the rear fitted engine, which also acts as counterweight. The feature ensures lower operating weight and fuel savings as well."
Mr. Aneja mentions, "Tackling poor underfoot conditions and delivering right tractive effort, Case wheel loaders, feature limited slip differentials as standard in both front and rear axles. The four-speed transmission with manual kick-down setting allows maximum traction and bucket breakout during digging and loading operations. Between loads, a dual-mode shutdown feature allows the operator to set and limit the time that the machine can idle, in five minute increment."
Based on the loading and hauling requirements, the wheel loader's engine can be set to four different modes depending on power requirement and application – Standard, Auto, Max, and Eco. 721F comes with a dump height of 2.82 meters and 821F comes at 2.96 meters. Mr. Aneja says, "The maximum time taken to lift max load to full height is 5.2 seconds. It will of course be even lesser when required to load smaller trucks or lesser loads."
Product supports to the wheel loaders are given by Case India's network of 60+ dealers and 200+ outlets. Service and parts support is provided by the company's service engineers at customer's site.
Owing to the emerging trend of Indian quarry operators towards setting up multiple trains for varied aggregates sizes, for varied customer requirements, there is a newer evolution in aggregates hauling and loading pattern. Generally for institutional customers or corporates involved in longer stretches of road construction or RMC, the aggregates off take is through rigid on highway hydraulic tipper trucks. The trucks load the aggregates on long-term contracts with the quarry operators.
There are medium and smaller contractors, off taking aggregates, usually fixing spot contract agreements, loading the materials usually on conventional bodied trucks. This is a rapidly emerging segment, contributing fair volumes to the business pie of the quarry owners. Further, there are large articulated trucks and small rigid trucks, transporting the processed minerals.
Additionally, there is spurt in railway wagon loading. The sidings are away from the quarries and are located on larger elevated surface from the ground level, usually with poor underfoot conditions. For all the purpose, loadings have to be precise as contracted as the truck loads are authenticated by weigh bridges at the customers' end. Not to mention faster, to avoid demurrages by the customers.
"Along with delivering at least 10% fuel efficiency, the Weichai and Cummins India engines powering the loaders, features high performance cooling and air filtration systems, making the loaders, function at Indian quarry sites with high temperatures and high dust levels," he adds.
He further elaborates, "Backed by finite element analysis, the wheel loaders are structurally well built. Well welded parts and structures, well designed ROPS & FOPS, Air conditioned cabin for operators comfort, makes the loaders deliver optimum performance in demanding and rugged conditions at quarry, coal mines, and RMC sites." The company has supplied its 5 tons loaders to Sri Krishna Stone Crushers in Jammu and MM Beg Construction in Kashmir, to name a few. While 3 tons loaders have been delivered to Sadbhav Engineers, sites at NHAI projects and many coal mining and loading companies in Jharkhand & Orissa "The loaders have been delivering optimum performance at all the sites, where they are employed for loading, hauling, and stockpiling the processed minerals." adds Mr. Shrivastava. The wheel loaders are supported by Terex's extensive dealer and service / parts network.
Specialized Quarry ApplicationsTargeting the high-end market, Volvo CE is marketing its higher capacity wheel loaders for marble and granite quarry applications. The Swedish construction equipment major is actively marketing its L90 with 15 tons operating weight and 4.5 tons payload; L120 with 20 tons operating weight and 6 tons payload; L150 with 24 tons operating weight and 7 tons payload; L180 with 28 tons operating weight and 8 tons payload, L 220 with 31 tons operating weight and 9 tons payload, L350 with 50 tons operating weight and 12 tons payload in India. The loaders are targeted for coal, iron ore, and other bulk materials' handling.
Mr.Krishnan says, "L90 and L120, Volvo loaders are suitable for fixed crushing plants of 200-400 tph. Fitted with fuel-efficient Volvo engines, delivering higher torque at lower RPM's, the loaders are suitable for short cycle loading, involving carrying the stockpiled material for loading in the trucks and also for appropriate stockpiling. Special TP linkage into the equipment provides high breakout force. This results crowning of the aggregates close to the bucket without any spillage. Our loader buckets are designed to achieve 110% fill factor. Quick fit attachments provide faster changing of attachments, hence more time available for production"
He mentions, "The higher breakout force makes the loaders, ideal for handling manufactured sand which are having higher density than aggregates. Few of the loaders have distinctly delivered 60,000-70,000 hours of operation."
Volvo provides on site operators training and also at its customer development centre in Bangalore. It has multiple service levels involving annual maintenance contracts, blue and gold packages. Volvo CE has 15 dealers with 50 plus touch points.
DOZCO markets 90Z5 (8 tons payload), 115ZV-2 (12 tons payload) & 135ZV-2 (22 tons payload) wheel loaders in India for iron ore and coal handling applications comprising four models. He adds, "The Kawasaki loaders have Z-bar linkage that ensures powerful breakout force. In addition, it also has a 50-degree tilt back angle with powerful breakout force and tractive effort which simplifies loading and carrying without spillage. Automatic transmission selects optimum speed from forth to second gear on its own, and vice-versa to facilitate scooping and carrying at quarries.
The equipment is competitive due to its simplified maintenance and inspection mechanism with the critical easy check points such as radiator water level, air cleaner, and greasing. To facilitate cleaning of the radiator, the radiator grille can be opened at the top. "According to Mr. Kumar, "9.5 tons loader can raise full load at 11.6 seconds for loading the blocks on trailer trucks. It comes with a dumping clearance of 3220 mm and maximum dumping reach of 1350 mm making it most suitable in its class for quarry handling and loading."
DOZCO provides maintenance support to the Kawasaki wheel loaders through its AMC and FMCs. Maintenance support is provided by the company through its engineers, trained in Japan. The company has thirty Branches across the country.
While manufacturers and distributors of wheel loaders look to make product placement based on the emerging applications requirements in quarries and allied higher end applications, it will be pertinent to have better service orientation by making necessary investments aimed at strengthening marketing and product support channels.