Powering up underground

Posted: August 7, 2012 in Mining

Twin 550 hp Cummins engines and double articulation are features of the new Powertrans underground truck.

A twin-engine, double-articulated mine truck designed and built in Australia is set to establish a new benchmark for underground haulage efficiency.

The brainchild of Scott McFarlane, chief engineer at Brisbane-based Powertrans, the new truck is powered by twin Cummins QSX engines, each punching out 550 hp.

Powertrans, of course, is the company that developed and builds the remarkable twin-engine Pit Hauler roadtrains that move phenomenal payloads – in excess of 400 tonnes at a time – in mine applications in Western Australia.

The new Powertrans underground truck is known as the DAT60 – ‘Double Articulated Truck, 60-tonner’ – and is the most powerful underground hauler on the market today with 1100 hp on tap from its 15-litre Cummins engines.

“It’s all about faster haulage speeds…increased tonnes per kilometre,” says Scott McFarlane.

He points out the DAT60 was trialled at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Ridgeway mine in NSW and, with a payload of 68 tonnes, achieved 15 km/h on a 14% ramp gradient –  evidence of its outstanding performance.

“As underground mines go deeper this kind of performance takes on even greater significance,” he says.

Powertrans chief engineer Scott McFarlane…designer of the DAT60.

McFarlane and the Powertrans team have worked closely with specialist underground mining contractor Byrnecut in the development of the DAT60, and Byrnecut has bought the first unit for operation at Newcrest’s Telfer gold mine in WA.

With an engine front and rear and a length of 13.4 metres, the Powertrans truck is up to two metres longer than its competitors. However, as McFarlane points out, the extra length has no impact on manoeuvrability or swept path because of the double articulation of the DAT60.

The Cummins QSX engines are both fitted with compression engine brakes retarding a total of 900 hp – significant braking effort that was fully tested at the Cadia mine with the DAT60 grossing around 108 tonnes.

“We tested the fully loaded DAT60 going down into the Cadia mine over a distance of six kilometres and the engine brakes held the truck with the transmissions in second gear,” McFarlane points out.

The Cummins QSX engines drive through Allison six-speed 4000-series transmissions to Kessler axles.

Serviceability is another feature of the DAT60 with plenty of room in the engine bays for routine maintenance. Both engines are cooled by radiators with a 1.3 sq m (2000 sq in) frontal area.

Powertrans developed its own cab for the DAT60 as well as the custom dash display which incorporates two tachometers for the QSX engines. The cab has both ROPS     (roll-over protection system) and FOPS (falling object protection system).

A CAN Bus system is also used to significantly reduce electrical wiring.

The DAT60 was 18 months in the making at Powertrans from concept stage to completed construction. A patent has been applied for.

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