With competition and pressure on margins getting stiffer in quarrying and higher end mining operations, safety, productivity, and reducing the overall cost of ownership are key determinants in new tipper trucks purchase, as P.P. Basistha reports.
Tipper truck manufacturers are getting aggressive towards newer product placements to meet the emerging requirements of quarrying operations. The present preparedness is quite precise and detailed in its entity as the tipper trucks markets remain under pressure with sales hovering around 2800-3000 units per month with 2-4 percent decline reported between April-May 2015. The readiness, manufacturers opine, will boost up sales, with some manufacturers experiencing expansion of market share based on competitive product positioning. They are also of the opinion that the strategy will build up future sales and consolidate market share as well, based on growing indications of Indian quarrying operations becoming more fragmented in its size and varied output, requiring suitable product placements.
According to him, "The Eicher Tipper Trucks, which are being developed following in-depth study of transportation requirements of Indian quarry and mining sites, features ergonomic cab, comfortable powered steering wheel, and hydraulic controlled power train for optimized engine performance. In accordance with Volvo Group's philosophy of safety, the tippers come with highest stability. This makes them safely move with the loads and tip it in undulated conditions. The tippers also score higher while working at short turning circles, not unnatural in Indian quarry sites."
Product support to the Eicher tippers working at quarry sites is rendered through multiple channels. First is through, Eicher's 200 + dealers, each with 2-3 branches. For quarry and mining sites having larger fleet, the company puts in place containerized service stations with engineers and parts. There is also provision of mobile workshops to provide assistance to the trucks working at remote locations.
Making tippers indexed, solely to higher end mining applications, Volvo offers its FMX 440, 8x4 mining tippers with 19.5 cum body for overburden haulage with option of manual and automated transmission. The other offering includes new Volvo FMX 440 33 cu.m coal tipper. Volvo offers two body variants on tippers for OB removal application – rock body design and Exhaust Heated Body (EHB). The EHB variant is apt for the material with higher moisture content. It uses the heat generated by engine exhaust gas to get its surface heated, which ensures that the wet material doesn't get stuck on the load body surface, thereby improving flow-ability of material.
He mentions, "Volvo's leadership in diesel technology is clearly visible when you compare engine curves with other offerings. One can experience fast acceleration, excellent pulling power, comfortable low-speed handling and, not least, a fuel efficient and pleasurable ride at cruising speed. They have optimised combustion chamber geometry, the fast and precise EMS controlled injection and the high gas-fill ratio. Moreover, Volvo's patented engine brakes produce impressive braking forces."
Mentioning on faster cycles both for shorter and longer leads, fuel efficiency and extended performance, Mr. Ramarao adds, "Volvo tippers offer high power-to-weight ratio for better average speed and high torque-to-weight ratio for better negotiability under high grade and rough roads. This provides faster turnaround time of our tipper; thereby ensuring more number of trips. The Volvo Engine has unique power-torque curve – the high power and torque is achieved at a low rpm and is sustained over a wide range of rpm. This enables the driver to keep the engine rpm low even at high grade roads, thereby keeping fuel consumption low."
Combined with higher fuel efficiency, faster cycle times, Mr. Ramarao claims, "Volvo tippers claim to offer higher tractive effort at mining sites, generally with poor underfoot conditions." He explains, "the Volvo FMX tippers are designed in the way that it overcomes the toughest operating conditions easily and therefore are the most suitable tippers for mining operation. High Power and torque combined with wide range of matched gear ratio, optimum drive axle ratio and large mining tyres ensure high tractive force at wheels at all speeds, so that the vehicle is never in want of more tractive force to overcome even the steepest of gradient and roughest of road."
He continues, "The new automated transmission provided on Volvo FMX tipper (I-Shift) is fully optimized for mining applications. There are features specifically developed considering the uneven and rough roads. The features like performance mode, heavy duty mode, power launch etc. helps improving productivity of vehicle carrying heavy loads under muddy and rough road conditions. The high approach angle of FMX cab and high ground clearance further add to the negotiability of the tipper in poor underfoot conditions."
Explaining the engineering attributes of the trucks enabling them to work in confined loading and dumping areas, Mr. Ramarao informs, "the wheelbase of the vehicle is kept as low as possible in order to keep the turning circle dia of the tipper low and convenient for operation." Volvo claims to work with customers, in order to recommend best practices to maintain the loading and unloading areas of site for convenience, efficiency and safety of operation.
Volvo tippers claim to score higher on stability. According to Mr. Ramarao, "the chassis and load body design are finalized considering the mining operating condition. Therefore, stability of the vehicle is given special importance in order to ensure high level of safety and maneuverability of the tipper. The center of gravity location of the tipper is designed to be as low as possible, so as to ensure high stability under both static and dynamic condition."
Volvo provides onsite support to its tipper trucks, working at mining sites, through customized services with container workshops deployed at the sites. The company has 150 touch points including state of the art workshops and various service support centers. Support is offered based on tailor made service agreements guaranteeing higher parts availability. To offer Volvo genuine parts, the company offers renovated parts, certified by Volvo for quality, performance and reliability.
As an extended arm of support to the tippers to deliver optimum performance, Volvo has in place Dynafleet. Dynafleet is Volvo Trucks online transport information system for improved profitability. Customer can see in real time their vehicles' performance data that is critical to have control on their fleet. Additionally, Dynafleet shows the areas of improvement to support profitability in the long run. By providing clear and accurate information, the system makes it easier to take the right decisions. The customer can access this information anywhere, also outside the office, from any standard PC and device with an internet connection.
According to Mr. Ramarao, "the new Volvo FMX comes enabled for Dynafleet Online service of 'Fuel & Environment'. The Fuel & Environment service saves customers time and effort in analysing vehicle data and helps find ways to cut fuel cost. Customer simply has to sign-up for the service and stay connected by paying the monthly / annual subscription fee. The Fuel & Environment service provides customers all the critical information related to vehicles' performance. It also saves them time and effort analysing vehicle data - and helps owners to find ways to cut fuel costs.
Growing Combined Mode ApplicationsTrucking behemoth, Ashok Leyland has been working on well crafted strategy to enlarge its offerings in the tipper trucks segments. The offering enlargements is for rising combined mode applications operations where the trucks will be able to load and tip the granular sub base materials and final crushed aggregates within the mineral processing sites or even transport them through roads at destined locations.
"We have offerings with various capacity of 16-25-31 tons gross vehicle weights with payloads of 10-18-26 tons and body configuration of 14 -16 cum. For 31 tons GVW, we have dual body offerings between 19-22 cum in 'U' range tipper trucks. The trucks have factory built customized cabins and bodies, made in accordance with the requirements of the quarry operators or the transporters of the blue metal. Further, we also offer cowl chassis, made on tipper trucks platform where the buyer can mount the tipper body and cabin of his own based on requirements. The range is usually targeted towards newer entrants in quarry business. The price difference is of Rs.2 lakhs between the 'U' range and cowl variants," says Mr. M. Surendranath, Vice President, Medium & Heavy Duty Trucks, Ashok Leyland. He adds, "To provide the required tractive effort, 16-25 ton units are equipped with Ashok Leyland's own 180 hp engines, while 31 tons is powered by 230 hp engines."
Strengthening its position in the higher capacity offerings, Ashok Leyland launched in recent past its 'Captain' range of tipper trucks. Available on 25-31 tons, GVW, the product is aimed for coal mining for overburden clearance and bigger quarrying operations based on larger sized fixed plants. Mr. Surendranath mentions, "The competitive features of the tipper trucks are their totally suspended air conditioned cabins. Fitted with pneumatic bellows and shock absorbers, the cabins in tipper trucks can absorb the ground impact, while operating on rough and undulated terrain, thereby reducing driver fatigue and consequently raising productivity. To provide, appropriate stability and safety for the trucks hauling and tipping the loads at undulated mineral processing sites, bogie suspension, stabilizer bars and anti roll bars are incorporated as added features." The company is selling almost 75 vehicles per month in the 'Captain' range.
Mr. Surendranath informs, "At present, the 'Captain' tippers are being powered by our own 230 hp-'H series' engines. Moving forward in one year's time we will upgrade the vehicle with 360 hp- 'Neptune' series engines. This will bring us within the league of other foreign manufacturers with portfolio of higher capacity tipper trucks."
Taking note of emerging requirements to move varied sizes of aggregates and other processed by products, Ashok Leyland has set up its own body design centre. "We are providing fully customized bodies for contractors like Dilip Buildcon and others based on inputs of our design centers. The centre is fully capable of designing bodies with varied tensile strength based on the customer's requirements with alloy steels for longevity between 8-10,000 hours. Based on the design input, the tipper body manufacturers fabricate the bodies, which is then mounted at our premises," says Mr. Surendranath.
Ashok Leyland provides maintenance support for its tipper trucks working at quarries and mines through its 60 container workshops stationed at quarries. Support is also rendered through its 180 dealers with 480 touch points. The company is looking forward to expand its touch points to leverage services support.
Tata Motors will look to leverage its presence in tipper trucks segment through its recently launched 'Prima' series of tippers. The company offers, Prima 2528 K and Prima 3138 K. Under Prima LX range it offers 2523 K, 3123K, 2528K and 3128 K.
Mr. Kaul elaborates , "Tata Prima 3138.K has been built specifically for deep mining in coal, iron ore, lignite mines and for bulk limestone movement in off-road applications. It is an 4-axle, 31-tonne GVW tipper with a 9-speed Eaton manual transmission. This 8X4 tipper is powered by the Cummins ISLe CRDi engine which has a maximum power of 380 HP. Its special features include new generation brakes, ABS and hub reduction axle specially designed for mining operations. The 19 Cum Hardox Rock body is specially designed for overburden in coal, iron, and limestone applications. Our Tata Prima LX 2528.K is an ideal combination of power and economy for mining and construction application. Built specifically for off-road mining applications, the Tata Prima LX 2528.K is considered as a tough performer that can successfully tackle every challenge in heavy-duty operations. Its high level of robustness is due to its stronger chassis, specially designed 1200 X 24 mining tyres and durable suspension. A reliable power train ensures that possible loss of power or dissipation from the engine to the wheels is mitigated and kept at a minimum, thereby increasing efficiency. It is powered by a Cummins ISBe 6.7 CRDI BSIII engine, which has a maximum power of 280 HP. The product features includes a Tata G1150 9 speed gear box, Tata Motors heavy duty bogie suspension, chassis frame, single plate push type organic clutch. The Prima LX world class cabin comes with a 4 point suspension for reduced noise and vibration levels, high level of safety and an optional AC that adds to the comfort of the driver"
He adds, "The Prima & Prima Lx range of tippers come with an option of hub reduction which helps in getting better torque at wheels on these tippers along with powerful engines & robust aggregates helps them to perform in the toughest of the terrains hence bringing the best in class productivity in the quarries." He mentions further, " Our Prima series of tippers comes with widest body variants. Prima 2528 K comes with 16 cum scoop and 18 com box body. 3138 K comes with 19 cum scoop body. In the LX range 2523 K comes with 16 cum box body and 14 cum scoop, 3123 is equipped with an option of 18 cum box and 20 cum box, 2528K also comes with an option of 16 cum box, 16 cum scoop and 14 cum scoop while 3128K comes with 18 cum box body. This makes the tippers suitable for range of applications from coal haulage, overburden removal to quarry sites applications."
Tata Motors will be banking to on its range of product support initiatives to build up its brand image in tipper trucks. According to Mr. Kaul, "We provide various offerings including 24x7 onsite Support Service through mobile service vans, along with extensive driver and mechanic training. We also ensure quick services from our widest service network of our dealers and Tata Authorised Service Stations (TASS) across India. Our dedicated container workshops at site are equipped with necessary tools, fast moving parts/ lubes storage space, small office space for supervisor to carry out comfortable operations. While our mobile service vans are equipped with a company trained service team and necessary tools/ Tata genuine parts and lubes to carry out all service activities at the quarry or mining site."
Mr. Kaul says, "some vital features of our services support consists of technicians conducting preventive checks, routine maintenance and initiate necessary corrective measures on a daily basis. Proper retention of maintenance, service and repair records of all vehicles and take necessary actions for optimisation. Training to all your drivers on safety and economical driving habits. The benefits of the service are manifold primarily resulting towards, optimum performance and increased life of our tippers. Routine maintenance and repairs thereby hundred percent adherence towards preventive, routine and scheduled maintenance services of the tippers on site."
He continues, "We are planning to make our 16-25 tons GVW tipper trucks, well indexed to combined mode applications, by making them productive, fuel efficient, and reliable. This is as because getting heavy duty tippers will prove to be costlier for small, medium sized or sometimes for bigger sized quarry operators across the equipment lifecycle." AMW manufactures tippers of 16-31 GVW capacity.
He explains, "For combined mode applications, we are fitting our tippers with 180-235 hp Cummins- 'D' Series engines which provide right power and tractive effort when working at as much as 25-30% steep gradients. Further, we are fitting the trucks with multiple tread tires. We have engineered the trucks to work most efficiently on short turning circles and confined dumping areas. Our trucks can work for six and half and seven meters turning circles, best as per the industry standards and deliver highest stability."