DT Australia’s uniquely engineered Hercules dump truck tray enables mining executives to cut their costs by moving more material with fewer trucks
In mining-driven Australia, dump trucks are a dime a dozen so it takes something special to stand out from the fleet. With its “uniquely engineered” Hercules dump truck tray, Perth-based manufacturer DT HiLoad Australia Pty Ltd believes it has hit the nail on the head.
The heavy-duty, lightweight and durable Hercules dump truck tray is a patented design made entirely from quenched and tempered high-strength steel plate.
Designed using advanced computer software, Hercules trays are larger than conventional ones, enabling them to hold about 10% more payload, yet use less steel so are lighter-weight. DT Australia’s chief executive Richard Lang says that investing in lightweight heavy-duty truck bodies such as those using the Hercules tray can deliver significant cost savings on transporting ore to processing plants.
“The Hercules enables mining companies to produce more in a set time period, or, if they only sell a certain amount, they can move the same amount of material with fewer trucks,” he explains. “This saves money that would otherwise be spent on more trucks and fuel, and it also reduces the company’s carbon emissions.”
With its increased payload advantage, the Hercules dump truck tray can help improve companies’ efficiency and productivity. One feature is the ‘Unique Wear Management Program’, which maintains tray strength without adding extra weight to ensure it retains maximum payload advantage. The tray also boasts “outstanding load retention” and is custom-designed to suit different applications and to fit different models and makes of truck.
Continuous improvement for growing success
The Hercules truck body design has been in development since 1995, long before DT Australia was founded, in 2003. It has been tweaked over time to have the optimum low bodyweight, high payload, resistance to wear, low maintenance requirements, durability and reliability. The truck body currently in production is the Phase X model, meaning the improvements being made to it now “tend to be small changes to help make the body last better in difficult circumstances,” says Lang.
This gradual product development is part of DT Australia’s Continuous Improvement and Quality Assurance programs, for which it is independently certified to ISO9001. While continuous improvement has always been integral to the company’s “general business philosophy,” says Lang, it has become more regimented in recent years. He explains that the company finds new ways of improving its products through listening to feedback from its service teams at mine sites.
Ensuring the Hercules product range stays at the top of its game keeps previous customers of DT Australia coming back and spreading the word to new customers. The company enjoyed a significant increase in annual sales recently and Lang attributes this primarily to “repeat business and word-of-mouth,” which he says is “very important” to the company. It has helped DT Australia bid for and win a number of significant tenders.
“In the last two years we have supplied three separate major international mining companies with large numbers of bodies in one order,” reveals Lang. “The order sizes were 20 bodies, 24 bodies and 30 bodies. We are expecting all three companies to make further purchases as they are happy with the bodies. In addition to those orders, other mines have purchased repeat orders of bodies over the period.”
Running a tight ship
To help it cope with increasingly large orders such as these, in 2012 DT Australia increased its production capacity to 200 truck bodies per year, from 130 previously. To do this it expanded its premises and increased its workforce to approximately 150 employees.
Increased sales and capacity have made it all the more important that DT Australia can work to tight schedules and for this it uses a Production Information Management System (PIMS). “The PIMS software is a communication tool for everyone in the business, from sales and marketing to the team leaders on the shop floor; it also keeps the customer informed on how their order is progressing,” says Lang.
“It’s an in-house system enabling us to plan and manage the production, all the way through the process, to ensure customers get their truck bodies on time… Timing is very important for us, because we often have policemen booked and scheduled for escorting the heavy vehicles and if production is completed late, you end up having to make very complicated logistics arrangements.”
DT Australia’s fastidiousness doesn’t end there. Once a truck body is sold, the company’s service division will always be on hand to ensure it remains in top condition. “We’ve got mobile workshops and maintenance people who can go anywhere in the world to back up our product and service it,” says Lang.
The world in its sights
In the current financial climate, companies are more reluctant to spend capital on equipment such as new truck bodies; which is why, over the next 12 months, Lang aims to persuade more senior mining executives that DT Australia’s products are a worthwhile and rewarding investment.
“In this environment, many companies are putting a blanket ban on all capital expenditure; but in doing so, they could miss out on some excellent cost-reduction initiatives,” he says.
“We’re hoping to convince people in the mining industry to see the value in investing in the cost-saving potential of our lightweight, heavy-duty truck bodies – because they can get a payback period on these investments of somewhere between six months and two years.”
DT Australia has achieved considerable success in its home country and made international sales to countries including Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana and Papua New Guinea. The company aspires to spread further still. The DT Australia team goes to major mining exhibitions all around the world in order to attract overseas business.
“We intend to expand the company, to make it grow and to become a regular, reliable supplier to all of the significant mining companies in the world,” Lang remarks. “I believe we’ll end up being a significant international player.”