DT HiLoad Australia specialises in the design and manufacture of the Hercules dump truck body – a better mousetrap for mine site hauling
DT HiLoad’s solution for mining equipment is the Hercules – an engineered tray for off-road, rear-tipping, mining and quarry trucks. The patented curved design is made from a flexible, hard-wearing steel plate and the innovation has proved its ability to improve mining efficiency and productivity through an increased payload advantage and lower downtime.
Richard Lang, chief executive officer, reckons that the designed body carries around an extra 10 per cent payload on every trip. Multiply that by every day for a truck doing a cycle every hour and that adds up to a substantial amount of extra material. A standard truck body will carry some 210 tonnes, but the lighter-weight Hercules can carry 244 tonnes. In addition, because of the lightweight design, a mining company uses less fuel per tonne of ore moved.
The original concept was born in Chile, when family-run DT HiLoad in South America began experimenting with a better design for trucking material on site.
Since 2003, Perth-based DT HiLoad Australia has taken on the business and patents, and the entire production process is completed at its workshop facilities.
There are 1,200 Hercules trays in use globally and some 300 in Australia.
The most important element, says Lang, is the curved tray design, which means that canopy loading becomes a thing of the past. The problem with canopy loading is that material heaped on the canopy of a body changes the distribution of load on the truck tyres, and small changes in load compared to the rated load of the tyre result in disproportionate loss of tyre life. This has been a particularly relevant issue in recent years, which has found miners needing to resort to all sorts of tricks to preserve them in a global tyre shortage.
Moreover, the curved design reduces hang up, a real nuisance when dealing with sticky clay.
“The curved nature of the body is integral to the design and that is where a lot of the strength comes from, which is also why the lighter weight is possible while still retaining heavy-duty capability,” explains Lang.
And although there is a general design, DT can customise trays at its workshop to exact specifications for any individual mine. By looking at the rated payload of the truck and the loose bulk density of material being shifted, the company can work out what volume of tray a mine should have. That can result in faster tipping times – fitted circuitry limits the tipping angle and the angle can be calibrated to the relevant material and locked by a supervisor.
Implementing operational change can be a tall order for mine sites. Lang points out that most of the necessary detailed knowledge is often found at the superintendent level or below and that effecting change may require a coalition of supporters from different disciplines across the organisation. A team should include people who can crunch the numbers, know the maintenance requirements and understand the operational trucking flow existing at the site.
The timing is certainly on DT HiLoad’s side. In a recent report, Deloitte points out that while the issues facing mining companies appear familiar every year, the factors influencing the industry are moving to a new level of extremity. This is just as true with cost-control measures.
The winning argument in favour of assembling a team is that adopting the Hercules tray on site can pay itself off in less than a year if implemented properly. However, teams within larger companies can face barriers, particularly if there are existing international deals with key suppliers in place.
“Maybe it’s just that old habits die hard. We have had a very good response from our customers, so there is no way that I could complain generally about the attitude of people that we deal with. Contractors have probably been the most nimble and the very big international companies are probably the least in our experience,” Lang says.