Evaluating the Best Equipment for Quarries
by Josh Swank, VP sales and marketing, Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc.
Thorough evaluation is key to strong operations. Constantly reviewing employees, processes and equipment ensures a company’s profit margins are as large as possible.
Trucks run around the clock every day of the year in quarries, so it’s nearly impossible to pull the nose from the grindstone long enough to provide thorough analysis. Fortunately, some manufacturers took a long, hard look at the process and engineered equipment to make aggregate hauling efficient and profitable. One key piece? Truck bodies.
It might appear that truck bodies don’t differ much from one design to another, but take a moment to speak with an operator about the pain in his or her day and it’ll be clear that not all bodies are created equal. Each day, operators load and unload countless amounts of aggregate in relatively similar looking trucks. Company goals might all be the same — increase payload, decrease downtime and get the best lifespan from the truck — but the outcome in each quarry depends on the equipment used.
High-performance, aggregate-specific truck bodies address three major challenges in the aggregate industry. First, they’re engineered for minimal maintenance and a long lifespan, creating the best possible return on investment. Second, they withstand highly abrasive material while minimizing carryback and maintenance. And thirdly, they maximize the truck’s full capacity to increase potential profit.
In the United States alone, aggregate production more than quadrupled in the past 50 years, with more than 2 billion tons used annually. With such large production numbers, it makes sense that aggregate hauling equipment continually becomes more efficient as technology improves.
Trucks have a finite carrying capacity, part of which is the machine weight. And in a perfect design, the amount of aggregate to be hauled would consume the rest of the capacity limit.
High-performance body manufacturers maximize truck-hauling capacity and provide the highest possible payload by considering factors such as height and width restrictions as well as loading equipment. For example, bodies are wider to match up with the loading equipment shovel or bucket, allowing for a large loading target and a quick load rate. Some manufacturers also examine the natural angles of repose, or how materials lay, to maximize payload capacity and reduce material spillage.
Engineers focus on a proprietary process for high-performance bodies that removes unnecessary steel. By doing so, additional features, such as greater width and a more substantial floor bolster system, don’t weigh bodies down. Removing any unnecessary weight significantly increases hauling productivity and contributes to a fully utilized capacity. Customizing bodies also aids in productivity by ensuring minimal maintenance and carryback.
Cut the carryback
In an industry where trucks run around the clock, 365 days of the year, productivity is the last thing that should be sacrificed. To ensure job productivity stays high, bodies that can handle highly abrasive, sticky material, while minimizing carryback, become a huge benefit.
Innovative construction continues with the load-containing portion of high-performance aggregate bodies. Hydrophobic steel liners and high-abrasion liners provide durability against abrasive materials while ensuring as much hauled material as possible leaves bodies during dumping. Often, the aggregate-and-soil-mixed payload becomes sticky and bridges across the front of bodies, decreasing productivity by eating away at the total capacity until bodies are cleaned. However, hydrophobic material, as the name suggests, repels moisture. Manufacturers place it in key parts of the bodies, specifically in areas where carryback begins, reducing the likelihood that material will build up.
Body-side top rails reinforce sides and eliminate the potential for material to build up within the sidewalls, which can impact the truck’s overall carrying capacity. The rails are half sections of rounded pipe that tie the inside steel plate to the outside plate at the top and cover the gap between them.
Tapering bodies also decrease wear and carryback on the sides. When bodies are narrower at the front than the back, materials release immediately when dumped and slide straight out without scraping the sides, which virtually eliminates the potential for weighted carryback. This innovative design also allows the extra weight capacity to reinforce other areas of the truck bodies that generally receive the most wear.
Minimizing servicing downtime is key to increasing productivity. Customizing high-performance bodies to the quarry’s specifications increases loading safety and greatly reduces the potential for loading damage by ensuring width is correctly paired with the loading tool. This provides the lowest possible loading height and allows the shovel to get closer to the floor of bodies, nearly eliminating the chances that loading equipment will damage the sides. The wide bodies also provide the truck operator with well-balanced weight distribution. Improved weight distribution benefits the life of truck bodies and tires by eliminating the potential for wearing on specific areas. With the weight distributed equally across all of the tires, it reduces the potential for uneven wear.
Taking berm height into consideration, engineers design truck bodies so they do not fall below the center of the wheels, or the height of the berm, at full dump. This ensures ample clearance and helps eliminate tail damage that might occur when dumping into a pile.
Some bodies also have four removable, free-floating lifting eyes made from 450 Brinell steel, the strongest, most durable steel available. Manufacturers build the lifting eyes into the floor support structure for increased life because they don’t stress the sides. The lifting system also requires minimal maintenance and leads to easy installation. During installation or removal of bodies, the lifting system’s 10-inch-diameter lifting hole covers are removed and operators can attach rigging to the eyes that are inserted from beneath bodies. This contrasts to traditional bodies that place lifting eyes on the sides, causing truck bodies to bow in when lifted.
Extend body life
Bolsters and frame rails provide maximum reinforcement to the sides and floors of bodies. Traditional bodies simply butt-weld bolsters to frame rails, making them vulnerable to wear and tear. Custom bodies with intersecting bolsters and frame rails offer superior support that won’t buckle under the immense weight of quarried materials, keeping the payload at maximum capacity.
This enhanced design couples with some of the strongest steel in the world to significantly extend the life of bodies. Within high-performance bodies, steel is used only where it’s needed — at the greatest load containing areas. Even in intense environments, after hauling hundreds of thousands of tons to and from quarries, the steel doesn’t show signs of wearing thin. In fact, constructing bodies in such a fashion typically increases the life of the trucks by 25 to 30 percent.
Evaluating processes and making changes that potentially boost success rates, improve efficiency and reduce costs should be first on the list of any operation — especially those that run around the clock. In the case of quarry operations, custom, durable machines increase productivity rates and decrease maintenance downtime and carryback potential, all while increasing a truck’s life. It’s a focus that’s boosting profit margins and ROI significantly for aggregate companies while helping each grow raw production rates.
Using the right equipment and evaluating daily operations makes achieving efficient operations easy. Though it may seem like a lengthy process, the ROI is worth it in the long haul.
About the author
Josh Swank, vice president of sales and marketing for Philippi-Hagenbuch, oversees their global sales team and has been with the company for more than 20 years. His previous roles within the company include global sales and marketing manager and account manager. Outside of Philippi-Hagenbuch, he participates in multiple industry and philanthropic organizations, including the National Stone Sand and Gravel Manufacturers & Services Board, the NSSGA Young Leaders and the National Mining Association Board of Governors. He is a trustee of the JWAS Foundation and active within the Peoria, Illinois, technology startup community.