Far from Frigid

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Every industry has its own vernacular, ‘lingo’ and acronyms designed to prevent entry to the outsiders looking in. The earthmoving sector is no different with an array of perplexing if not amusing terms to describe equipment and mechanical issues; many deemed inappropriate for such a well-respected magazine as @ The Coal Face! 

Which brings me to today’s topic of Articulated Dump Trucks or ADT’s otherwise affectionately known as ‘Artics’. Far from frigid, there is a lot to like about these versatile off-roaders that are as comfortable in land subdivisions as they are muddy construction sites, infrastructure projects and mine sites.

Conceived in the late 50’s, early 60’s these three axle machines are mechanically driven and generally range between 25 to 60t. Fast (think in excess of 50km/h) and manoeuvrable, there are an array of manufactures vying for business that include Volvo, Cat, Komatsu, Terex, Bell (also marketed under John Deere), Doosan and/or Moxy. 

Broken into two key sections, these machines comprise a main tow unit or tractor with a dump body aka trailer. Unlike conventional trucks, steering on these machines is completed by hydraulic cylinders that push and pull the tractor relative to the trailer allowing both sections to move at great angles and tight turning circles. 

With a trailer that rotates on a horizontal plane to the tractor unit and back axles that pivot relative to the trailer frame, these trucks are extremely rugged off roaders that can negotiate great inclines and slippery conditions with all wheels in contact with the ground; a design that allows them to move quickly and efficiently in areas that would otherwise compromise larger rigid vehicles.

While miners are known to enjoy the flexibility that these trucks offer, this category of off-road hauler has come under increased scrutiny regarding safety with a higher than average incidence of rollovers. 

To reduce these incidents, manufacturers have directed their efforts towards stability assist systems as well as the development of low centre of gravity water tanks and service modules to keep the weight of the truck’s load as low to the ground as possible. 

Available in a dazzling array of configurations, in the Valley you will likely see these trucks fitted with a standard ‘tub’, water tank or service module however, depending upon their application (and location) can be used as concrete mixers, container trucks, hook loaders, cranes as well as the odd rocket launcher…

In context, many of you may remember the scenes following Hurricane Harvey in 2017 when Caterpillar ADT’s were used in Houston to aid rescue efforts within the local community. Looking more like amphibious army ducks, these machines were able to negotiate deep water crossings that normal civil machines would not contemplate. 

See this footage and more at https://youtu.be/56o9d6z9d4M


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