Komatsu Australia's Mackay branch is nearing the end of a major rebuild of a fleet of thirteen 930E-2 dump trucks for a central Queensland coal miner an 18-month project that has brought much-needed work to the region, while delivering a fleet of as-new trucks at around half the cost of new.
According to Gary Clarke, Komatsu's Branch Manager Mackay, the 930E-2 rebuild program began in October 2015, when the first truck was rebuilt as a trial.
"The project hasn't stopped since then, and we'll be completing the final two or three in the early months of 2017," said Gary.
The trucks in this fleet are around 15 years old, and are typically at 55,000 to 65,000 hours, with some onto their third engines.
"We are aiming to get these trucks out to 110,000 hours which is basically doubling their design life and there's no reason why they shouldn't get to this, given the good maintenance practices in place at the mine," he said.
"The value of work on each truck is less than half the price of a new vehicle.
"Depending on each mine's capital situation, maintenance and purchasing strategies, for some customers with fleets at this age, it makes a lot of sense to carry out a full rebuild program, as they are getting a good, reliable fleet of trucks for much less than the price of new," Gary said.
"Of course the other key factor in this program is the quality and durability built into each Komatsu machine; our haul trucks have a proven record of operating reliably out to 100,000 hours and more in Australian conditions.
"With the combination of Komatsu quality and durability, proper mine site maintenance practices and procedures, and Komatsu's service and support capabilities means there is no reason why numerous other mining fleets around the country shouldn't achieve the same machine longevity," he said.
The rebuild program in addition to bringing each truck back to as-new condition includes a number of technology and safety upgrades. Work carried out under the program includes:
Each truck stripped back to its bare chassis
The bare chassis fully crack tested and any necessary repairs carried out
All hydraulic hoses, electrical cables and associated fittings replaced
Hydraulics systems fully serviced, including replacement pumps and cleaning valve bodies
Drive systems updated, including upgraded wheel motors and drive cooling packages
Other updates include changing the lights from HID to LED and incorporating more current technologies for improved safety and reliability
Engines, if due for replacement, are changed out, otherwise they go back into the re-assembled trucks
Once everything is stripped down, checked and repaired as necessary, the truck is re-assembled as an as-new vehicle.
"The quality of the finished trucks is so good that they literally look like new units, to the extent that the freight companies we use to move our new gear are asking us where all the new trucks are going," Gary said.
In addition to benefiting the customer by providing a fleet of as-new trucks at half the cost of new, the program is also delivering benefits to Mackay, which has been hit hard by the mining downturn.
Each rebuild takes around 3000 labour hours over 10 weeks, and involves six tradespeople and two apprentices working two shifts a day, six days a week.
"We've been able to grow our permanent workforce at our Mackay branch by at least 20%, plus we've brought in contractors equivalent to a further 10% of the workforce," he said.
All this work is being carried out at Komatsu's main Connors Road facility in Mackay, which underwent a significant upgrade back in 2012 to help cope with the volume of work at the time.
"We wouldn't have been able to carry out this project without that investment in upgrading these facilities three or four years ago," Gary said.
"At that time, it was constantly full with building new trucks; now that the industry is not selling new truck fleets, we are very fortunate to have that capacity to carry out these rebuilds.
"This program will take us through to around Easter 2017, then we have some other projects on the go, giving us some very good medium-term work prospects," he said.
To view the 930E-2 dump trucks rebuild visit:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77s7N7JdXWY
Pictured: 930-E rebuild complete