Mining is a global industry. It places people and equipment in all environments, often in some of the most remote places, where conditions push the envelope for sustained human activity or survival.

The extreme heat in Australia. The breathtaking elevation of Chile. And, of course, the bone-chattering cold of Kazakhstan. How cold? Temperatures well below minus 20 Celsius are all in a day’s work for miners in the country.

The extreme cold presents unique risks to dump truck operators with ore prone to freezing in the tray – referred to as frozen load. When the bed is raised, a frozen load can cause the truck to tip and even roll over, potentially damaging equipment and even loss of life.

Perth-based dump body and bucket manufacturer, DT Australia was approached to design a solution by a client in Kazakhstan.

According to the company’s general manager, Glenn Brearey, the client was impressed with their standard Hercules tray.   

“The Hercules was already carrying 20 more tonnes over their OEM bodies, due to its lightweight design.

“They approached us to design a heated body that would prevent frozen load while still maintaining the higher capacity and lighter weight,” said Mr Brearey.

The heated body channels exhaust gases through the underside of the tray. While this is not a new concept, DT Australia’s design specifically targets hang-up initiation areas in below-freezing conditions. Mr Brearey says that the new design is based on based on rigorous flow modelling using DT Australia’s state of the art discrete element method software combined with DT Australia’s 25 years of experience in the field.

 “From initial discussions in October 2018 to delivery in June 2019, the engineering and production teams excelled themselves to design and manufacture this addition to our line-up in such a short space of time. We sent one of our team to Kazakhstan in the height of their winter in January this year.

“Using a thermographic Camera, two Caterpillar 785D dump bodies were assessed at the site to compare the performance of the body heating systems. One truck was fitted with the DT Australia Hercules heated body and the other with the Caterpillar Dual Slope Body,” said Brearey.

The two scenarios were assessed over two days, and images from each scenario were taken within 10 minutes of each other in order to achieve consistent results.

On both occasions, the Hercules heated body provided greater heat transfer and thermal distribution across the carrying surface of the body when compared to OEM body.

“Previously, this was a trade-off for the client. They had to choose between higher carrying capacity or mitigating the risk of frozen load. The heated Hercules ticks both those boxes and more.

“The client has indicated that the heated trays are working very well and have no issues. They have also indicated that they are keen to order more bodies in the future,” said Mr Brearey.