An unconventional, innovative and cost-effective truck body, designed by international truck body manufacturer Desarrollos Tecnológicos S.A (DT HiLoad), is now allowing open cast mining companies in South Africa to offset sliding commodity prices by reducing operational costs significantly. In the Southern African territory, the bodies are manufactured by Johannesburg-based industry leaders, Efficient Engineering, and are already in operation on Anglo American, De Beers and Swakop uranium mine sites.
These lightweight and highly durable truck bodies have achieved success in coal-based, copper, iron ore, platinum, uranium and diamond applications, with almost 2000 bodies supplied globally to fit Komatsu, Caterpillar and Hitachi trucks. “Historically, not much emphasis has been placed on the rigid mining truck body,” says Craig Davidovics, Efficient Engineering’s Engineering Manager. “In fact, the design of these bodies has seen very little change over the past 25 years, with the focus primarily being on extracting maximum lifespan, which, in many cases, does not make allowance for mine-specific ore densities.”
In contrast, the DT body is a product of the evolution in smart engineering, taking into consideration the material density of the application as well as the particular truck model in order to ensure optimal fleet performance. Its innovative curved design fully exploits the allowable elasticity of the high performance, quench and tempered steel used in manufacture, allowing it to achieve structural integrity whilst utilising significantly less steel. With only five different plate thicknesses in use over a single material grade throughout the body construction, both the manufacturing time and production costs are reduced.
A recent case study within the South African coal mining industry can be used to illustrate the benefits of the DT body. In the study, a fleet of 6 rigid haul trucks fitted with the standard 93m³(3:1) conventional bodies, capable of hauling 155 tonnes each, achieved an average payload of 102 tonnes – a 34% loss per load cycle – due to the low density of the coal. In comparison, when the new DT bodies were utilised in the same application, they offered a significantly higher load capacity of 150m³(3:1), achieved an average payload of 155 tonnes. The cost benefit per Body at a 90% fill factor, were as follows:
- Increased payload of approximately 43.2 tonne.
• Three load cycles per hour relates to 130 additional tonnes per hour
• Indicative cost of thermal coal is $50 per tonne
• Total benefit $ 6500 per hour over the fleet.
• Break even of initial capital expense of Body is 23 production hours.
“Despite the DT body’s lightweight design, lifespan has not been compromised – in fact, it has been significantly extended. Once the bodies reach the typical replacement age of 40,000 hours, they show only minor fatigue cracking and mechanical damage, and floor wear is limited to a maximum of 3mm (9%). Unlike traditional bodies, the modular design of the DT bodies allows for easy replacement of damaged parts, and can be repaired for continued operation at a third of the cost of full replacement,” continues Davidovics.
The repair of the DT bodies is also conducted by Efficient Engineering, who manufactures 100% of Komatsu Southern Africa’s truck body supply, and has established itself as the approved manufacturer for DT bodies destined for the Southern African market. Efficient Engineering is the only company authorised to build DT bodies outside of DT’s own operation in Santiago, Chile. This approval was attained from DT within only 2 weeks due to Efficient’s exceptional build quality, skill capacity and systems. Product support is done in close conjunction with DT, who also provides training and technical support.
The DT Hi-Load product was acquired by Komatsu Holding South America in October 2011, and is the only alternative Body approved for first fit to Komatsu Trucks. To date, 60% of the Bodies produced have been for Komatsu based machines. The remaining 40% being shared almost equally between Caterpillar and Hitachi based units.