Online Equipment Focus on Haul Trucks: The Big Haul
The unit’s cab also offers a climate control system, user-friendly steering, and joystick controls. The suspended seat, along with electronic suspension and level control, provide a smooth and stable ride on uneven terrain. “The operators love the way it drives in the pit,” Nolan says. “We put in some very long days, and the operators have very little fatigue after operating (it).”
Hopkins has also found that the truck eliminates the need to build roads on certain projects that it would have otherwise had to do with its gravel trucks. “The gravel trucks we have are best suited for on-road applications, which means certain off-road projects require us to build and maintain construction roads to complete our work,” Nolan says, noting that the unit allows the company to get right to work when arriving on a site and eliminates the time and cost of roadbuilding.
The Western Canadian terrain and weather also comes into play for Hopkins. “We work in both dry and wet pit environments,” Nolan says. “The on-road gravel trucks create up to 2-foot-deep ruts in a wet pit environment.” He notes that the unit reduces large ruts, handles the wet pit conditions with its six-wheel drive and low ground pressure, and helps to minimize road maintenance issues.”
Nolan says that the truck — powered by a 6.7 liter, Cummins QSB, 24-valve Tier III engine — has plenty of power. “Its 20- to 25-ton capacity surpasses what we can haul with our current gravel trucks. However, my favorite feature… is the automated compensation dumping system,” Nolan says. “Dump tucks could flip over while dumping a load on uneven ground. The auto compensation system reduces the chances of this happening.”
The unit’s tipping hydraulics automatically increases the engine revolutions when the tipping control lever is activated. This achieves tipping cycle times of 7.5 seconds up and 5.5 seconds down. It also automatically changes the pressure between cylinders while dumping on uneven ground to prevent tip-over.
Hopkins has since purchased the rental unit and is looking to add another one to his fleet very soon. “Our work cycle is 24-hours-a-day for eight months,” he says, explaining that the company ran the unit through that schedule with minimum downtime. “It has proven itself to be reliable and fuel efficient, using 15 to 20 percent less fuel than our gravel haul trucks,” Nolan says.
“It takes a full year to accurately assess the cost savings of a piece of equipment,” Nolan says of retrofit and labor costs. “We’ll have a far better idea of the overall cost savings in a few months. So far, we like what we see.”