HEAVY ENGINEERING & WEAR PARTS companies , especially those high tonnage operations with hundreds of trucks in their earthmoving fleets .
“ In iron ore mines , for instance , weight can be very important ,” Singleton explained . “ An ultraclass haul truck at these operations is probably doing something like 5,000 rotations a year , so removing 10 tonnes of weight from our truck tray and providing 10 extra tonnes of payload in one of those truck bodies can be worth A $ 3 million a year in additional revenue to a miner .
“ Some miners will have several hundred of those trucks , so this amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars of savings that far outweigh the initial investment in the new truck tray .”
Some of these new ULTIMA 2.0 trays are going through the final build stage and will go into operation shortly , Singleton told IM at the start of May .
The changes to the JEC High Performance Bucket , which is a two-piece design , hinge on the need to rebuild these buckets over their lifetime .
“ What we realised with the two-piece bucket is that if we take that concept and adapt it slightly , it helps in the rebuild market ,” Singleton said . “ It has allowed us to think about designing a bucket with rebuild in mind .”
This redesign has seen more components and sub-assemblies fitted on a new bucket with removal and replacement factored in – changes that have been appreciated by Austin ’ s mining customers given the recent influx of orders .
“ If you look at the iron ore market , for instance , an excavator bucket might last three years , but it will have at least two , if not three , rebuilds during that time ,” Singleton said .
Alongside designing for rebuilds , the company has also been addressing the logistics associated with building and transporting its truck trays around the world .
As has been well documented , logistics and supply chains have been coming under increased scrutiny since the outbreak of COVID and continue to be a focus area for mining companies with the current geopolitical situation in Russia and Ukraine .
This is where the company ’ s “ enhanced logistics body designs ” are coming to the fore .
This is premised on the idea that engineers can manufacture the major parts of a truck body , pack them into 40 ft ( 12.2 m ) containers and ship them to a location nearer the customer for unpacking and final assembly .
Singleton explains the reasoning for developing such a concept : “ One of the key problems with truck bodies is that they are difficult to move around the world as they are so big and heavy . The cost of moving them is also out of kilter with the value of the product itself . We have seen examples recently where , with freight costs being four-to-five times higher than past years , the cost of transport from one place to another is around the same as the cost of the truck body itself .”
Having come up with the ‘ containerised ’ truck body idea around a year ago , the company is now enacting a ‘ hub-and-spoke strategy ’ where it is building bodies in central hubs like Batam , packing them into shipping containers , shipping them to a port nearby to the operating site and , with the help of ‘ spokes ’, or third-party partners , carrying out the final assembly of that truck body thereafter .
“ We have now sold nearly 40 of those style of truck bodies around the world ,” Singleton said . “ From something that was a good idea a year ago , it has become a fast-selling solution .”
Austin is also helping its customers on their sustainability journeys , partnering with major customers to evaluate the feasibility of recovering used truck trays and buckets , cutting and re-melting them to produce ‘ as-new ’ products .
“ Sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint are important subjects for our customers , so they are also seriously important to us ,” Singleton said .
The company is also keenly observing progress on ‘ green steel ’ developments and those related to the use of hydrogen in the steel reduction process in place of coal .
“ As soon as those light , hard abrasion resistant ‘ green steels ’ are available , we will do test work on them to confirm their characteristics and then make them available to customers ,” Singleton said .
With higher revenue and profitability forecast at Austin , Singleton is confident the company can keep up its innovative steak while sating industry demand for its products .
“ Despite the effects of COVID , we are likely to be more profitable this year than at any time in our history ,” he said . “ We ’ re seeing the benefits of all the hard work that has been done over the last 12 months – so credit to everyone involved – and we and our customers will reap further benefits in the future .”
Milestones in manufacturing
Schlam has also seen an uptick in demand for its truck trays and buckets , with several high-profile contract awards in 2022 .
Having recently reached the milestone of manufacturing its 1,500th Hercules dump body in Australia with a delivery to a mine in New South
Wales , the company is set to deliver dump bodies and buckets – including the company ’ s
newly-released Hercules EXO – to iron ore major Fortescue Metals Group .
The contract , which comes alongside an
Schlam has supplied almost 60 Hercules bodies to Fortescue ’ s fleet of mining trucks and will deliver a further 50 in the next financial year alone
agreement related to Schlam People Solutions to provide skilled on-site mechanical and fabrication services for a minimum of three years with options to extend , could come with revenue of over A $ 90 million .
Schlam Chief Executive Officer , Matt Thomas , said Fortescue will be one of the first operators to receive the Hercules EXO since its successful trial and market release .
“ The Hercules EXO is a 240-t-class iron ore specific dump body that is 20 % lighter than the company ’ s already class-leading Hercules ,” he said . “ The decreased weight gives miners a greater payload potential , while a complete redesign and innovative material selection have resulted in a 100 % increase in service life .”
To date , Schlam has supplied almost 60 Hercules bodies to Fortescue ’ s fleet of mining trucks and will deliver a further 50 in the next financial year alone .
The part of the agreement related to Schlam People Solutions also underpins Schlam ’ s journey to introduce the latest robotic technology to transform its manufacturing processes and develop a “ state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing facility ” in Western Australia , Thomas said .
Schlam is also working with BHP to scrap some of its used dump bodies , which are taken off-site and scrapped by a third party in Port Hedland . To date , it has scrapped around 200 dump bodies for the mining major , which equates to around 7,000 t of steel .
It is also in discussions with SSAB to join its EcoUpgraded program , which would help save CO 2 both in steel production and across the lifetime of its Hercules dump body . The material efficiency and transport efficiency both contribute to the CO 2 savings , according to Schlam .
“ The end product can be designed lighter with high-strength steel , meaning less CO 2 is used to make the steel for each tray ,” the company explained . “ The wear-resistant , high-strength steel in the end product also lasts longer , meaning the CO 2 used to create the steel is
JUNE 2022 | International Mining