NEW MODELS ARE SAFER, SPEEDIER AND DESIGNED FOR GREATER OVERALL USEFULNESS.
|Getman’s A64 utility chassis is a popular base for many mine support configurations.|
The term “underground utility vehicle” often brings to mind visions of anything from a customized pickup truck to a bare-bones item of specialized mobile equipment that operates in the shadows of the bigger, more sophisticated production equipment it was designed to support. But, although utility vehicles continue to perform the same traditional roles in the underground environment, they have evolved significantly and their steadily improving capabilities now make it a bit harder to define exactly what is and isn’t “utility” or “production.” More importantly, operator safety and ergonomic considerations have joined reliability and robustness as primary design goals in product development, rather than as afterthoughts.
One of the most active areas of product development in the utility sector has been in concrete/shotcrete handling and application technology, and almost all of the leading suppliers have expanded their product portfolios with new concrete transporter/mixer or sprayer models. It’s also an area that clearly illustrates the increasingly blurred line that separates utility equipment from production gear. For example, given the importance of effective and efficient ground control operations for safety and the overall underground production sequence, shouldn’t concrete transport and spray vehicles be considered on par with roof drills and bolters—and shouldn’t both be regarded as vital to production?
Specialty concrete vehicles are only one segment of this crucial and very active equipment category. There are more than a dozen common mine applications—covering the movement of workers and materials, installation of vital underground components, and general service duty—for which suppliers offer purpose-built vehicles as well as base utility chassis platforms that accept interchangeable cassettes, pallets and either permanent or quick-change tool attachments for specific tasks. Here’s a roundup of the newest products to enter the market.
|The Mixkret 5 is Putzmeister’s latest addition to its line of compact underground concrete mixers.|
Delivering Concrete, Compactly
Putzmeister, which has been manufacturing concrete pumping and placing equipment for five decades, has expanded its line of Mixkret low-profile concrete mixers and transporters.
Putzmeister recently added the 5-m3-capacity Mixkret 5, which the company displayed at this year’s EXPOMIN trade show in Santiago, Chile. It’s a compact unit powered by a Caterpillar 6-cylinder diesel rated at 168 kW (225 hp), giving it a top speed of 20 km/h and maximum climbing angle of 30%.
An automatic altitude compensation system (AAC) enables the Mixkret 5 to operate at high altitude without loss of performance, according to the company—a claim Putzmeister said is supported by the many Mixkret 4’s equipped with the same system—but on a smaller engine (Caterpillar C6.6 rated at 130 kW)—that are currently working at altitudes of up to 5,000 m above sea level.
Compact design, combined with heavy-duty steering and drive axles plus plenty of horsepower, provide the Mixkret 4 and Mixkret 5 with high mobility and maneuverability in small-section galleries and tunnels, according to the company. With the Integrated Continuously Variable Drive (ICVD) drive system, engine power is applied optimally without gear shifting to interrupt tractive force—thus increasing operator convenience.
The hydrostatic transmission, together with a slope gradient measurement system and control software, form the basis of the unit’s automatic downhill speed regulation system: The maximum speed of the vehicle is automatically regulated according to the slope gradient, taking maximum advantage of the retarding force of the engine and reducing the probability of operator errors. This not only guarantees maximum safety during operation, said Putzmeister, but also contributes to maximum performance and extended service life.
Mixer cabs are FOPS/ROPS certified and equipped with a protective front grid. Mixkret 4 and 5 feature a night-vision rear camera to enable safe operation in reverse gear. The operator’s panel displays critical operating parameters such as slope gradient, vehicle speed, engine rpm and system alarms. The mixers also feature an operator-presence detection system that ensures by activating the parking brakes—that the vehicle will remain stationary until the driver is seated.
Hydraulic, oil-bathed multidisk service brakes with independent circuits on both axles provide superior braking capacity and long working life. The downhill speed regulation system minimizes wear and tear on the brakes, and internal, hydraulically operated SAHR discs on both axles provide safe parking.
For improved shotcrete additive logistics, Mixkret 4 and Mixkret 5 can be equipped with an optional liquid-additive storage and supply system.
|Normet’s Spraymec offers intelligent concrete sprayer control.|
Intelligent Concrete Spray Control
Finnish underground utility equipment builder Normet introduced the first of its new-generation SF series concrete sprayers—the Spraymec SF 050 D—earlier this year at the 12th AusIMM Underground Operators Conference in Adelaide, South Australia. The new model, according to Normet, is a diesel-hydraulic self-propelled mobile unit intended for use in small and medium cross-section tunnels, and is designed for high-performance sprayed concrete application with alkali-free accelerators.
New features include Normet’s new NSP 30 concrete spraying pump, rated at a nominal application volume of 19 m3/h, and Normet’s NorSmart system for advanced control of the spraying process.
The Spraymec displayed at the show was equipped with the Nordoser XI system, enabling intelligent control of concrete and accelerator output and low-pulsation concrete spraying. The low-pulsation concrete pump feature, according to the company, provides a more constant flow of concrete to the nozzle for production of higher-quality, more homogenous final lining structures. Normet also noted that accelerator consumption is reduced because of fewer and smaller pulses in the spray pumped from the nozzle. An upgraded SB 500 B spray boom features a more robust structure and has larger diameter hydraulic cylinders.
The Spraymec also can be equipped with one of two other optional control systems for accelerator dosing; XH, a manually adjusted, hydraulically controlled system; and XE, an electrically controlled system in which accelerator dosing is synchronized automatically with concrete average output—but without intelligent control of the concrete pump.
The Spraymec’s improved cabin provides more space for the operator and offers a more ergonomic design, with two sets of pedals for forward and backward maneuvering. A new dashboard with LCD multi-information display (MID) replaces the previously separate gauges.
|The SST Shotcreter is designed to employ mine air sources for concrete spraying in its standard configuration, but can be ordered with an onboard compressor if desired.|
Machines for all Mines
After almost 60 years of experience building utility vehicles for underground mines around the world, Getman prides itself on being able to offer product solutions appropriate for every mining method and mine condition. The company’s line includes multiple scissor lifts, explosives chargers and mechanical scalers, along with maintenance vehicles such as crane trucks, lubrication and fuel trucks, mechanics trucks, and a multiplatform vehicle. Getman also can design customized equipment upon request.
Last year, it announced a new line of concrete spraying and transport vehicles, starting with the introduction of the SST Shotcrete sprayer in July. The SST features what Getman describes as an “unparalleled” boom coverage area, enabling extended spraying coverage in normal drifting situations. Optimal boom positioning minimizes wasted material, and provides improved coverage in a variety of additional situations such as shooting blind corners or bulkheads.
The company said the sprayer’s diesel/hydraulic chassis is designed to minimize overall size for enhanced maneuverability while providing a layout that is easy and safe to maintain on a daily basis. The SST Shotcreter is equipped for use with mine air, but an optional onboard hydraulically driven air compressor is available to enable concrete spraying in areas without access to mine air systems.
Other features include:
- The ability to stow the boom over chassis during tramming for added protection and reduced strain and fatigue.
- Multiple boom unfolding scenarios to allow for easy unfolding in a variety of heading sizes.
- A 285-l-capacity concrete hopper.
In addition to the SST, Getman developed a new line of concrete mixers/transporters, built on a heavy-duty version of its standard A64 chassis to take advantage of machine and parts commonality available to Getman vehicle fleet owners. The new line includes three models: the R50, with a concrete fill capacity of 3.8 m3; the R60, with a fill capacity of 4.6 m3; and the 5.4-m3-capacity R70.
The A64 HD chassis, according to the company, is designed to accommodate heavy payloads and features a high-capacity articulation joint with internal tapered roller bearings, a certified ROPS/FOPS canopy at full capacity and superior ground clearance. A64 HD carriers feature a dual-position, fully adjustable operator seat with convenient forward and reverse tramming positions, enhanced ride performance from high-capacity pneumatic tires and suspension seating, and cab displays and readouts that are clearly visible to the operator.
|Atlas Copco Chargetec ANFO truck.|
Encompassing almost every aspect of underground mining activity, Atlas Copco’s updated product list includes four-wheel-drive vehicles configured for explosive charging, rock bolting, fuel and lubrication, utility work, concrete mixing, personnel transport, service trucks for maintenance or lifting, and additional scaling options. The breadth of its utility and production product lines, according to the company, allows its customers to conveniently maintain their complete underground fleet from the same manufacturer. Its utility vehicle product-development capabilities were bolstered by acquisition of the underground equipment business of GIA Industri AB in 2012.
New vehicles, and their roles and capabilities, include:
- The Chargetec ANFO charging truck, with a wide boom and man basket, provides charging in any direction. It features a high-density charging capacity of up to 22 tons per minute.
- The Cabletec UV2 rock bolting truck allows Atlas Copco to offer a complete line of underground bolting vehicles.
- The Filltec fuel and lubrication vehicle carries a 792-gallon diesel tank and three 132-gallon oil tanks.
- The versatile Flatec truck, equipped with a crane, offers the benefits of a flatbed truck while hauling a variety of supplies.
- The Mixtec concrete mixing truck has a capacity of 5.2 yd3.
- The Perstec personnel carrier holds up to 14 crew members.
- Available as a mobile workshop, the Worktec provides material transport for any tool or equipment such as a welder or a generator.
- With a lifting height of up to 29.5 ft, the Liftec service trucks offer six boom configurations for optimal use in a variety of situations. The boom can be operated conveniently from the basket or seat.
- The Scistec scissor lift can reach up to 18 ft with remote controls.
- The company’s new UV1 and UV2 scaling trucks offer a wider variety of sizes for underground customers. To supplement the original Atlas Copco Scaletec, the UV1 and UV2 feature a folding Brokk boom system that covers 900 ft2 and is ideal for scaling work using powerful hydraulic hammers. With a 21.7-ft outer turning radius, the trucks provide high maneuverability in narrow drifts.
The basic Atlas Copco UV1 carrier features a Deutz TCD2012 L4 2V, turbocharged, EPA Tier 3-compliant diesel rated at 100 hp (75 kW) at 2,300 rpm. A Dana Clark FT-24000 full power shift transmission is included. With an outer turning radius of 20.5 ft (6,257 mm) and a smaller frame than its counterpart, the UV1 provides a reduced footprint and is more maneuverable in confined spaces. The Liftec, Chargetec, and Scaletec are available on either the UV1 or UV2 carrier.
|The Paus Universa 40 is a new, compact utility vehicle specifically developed for narrow-vein mining.|
New for Narrow-vein Mining
Also on display at this year’s EXPOMIN show was the Paus Universa 40, a compact utility vehicle specifically developed for narrow-vein mining. According to Paus, Universa 40 customers can apply the new vehicle to a range of uses—as a material or concrete transporter, personnel carrier or service vehicle, workshop truck or scissor-lift platform, to name a few. Attachments can be permanently fitted to the vehicle but are also available in quick-change versions—and customers can evolve from one type of system to the other gradually, if desired.
The Universa 40 is offered with three engine versions: a Deutz BF4M 2012 diesel is standard, and a TCD 2012 with COM 3a exhaust stage and MSHA certification or a TCD 3.6 with COM 3b exhaust stage are also available.
Paus said the vehicle’s combination of a high-performance engine and a modern hydrostatic drive delivers major benefits such as reduced operating costs and driver comfort. The hydrostatic drive enables automatic reversing at the push of a button. Controls are neatly arranged in the cab, with displays for engine data as well as other vital vehicle-related and warnings or error messages.
The company also noted that the Universa 40 has a robust, mine-duty chassis, available in either an open or closed cab, and has an extremely small turning radius (3,250 mm). The vehicle is fitted with an LED light package and offers a number of safety-related features such as emergency stop buttons placed at appropriate points around the vehicle.
The Universa 40 exhibited at Expomin displayed a modular, flat cargo platform measuring 2.5 x 1.5 m, located behind the ROPS/FOPS driver's cab, suitable for general transport or mounting firefighting equipment, a central lubrication system, or a welding equipment and compressor with hose reel, for example; it also had a permanently attached HIAM 026T crane. Vehicle payload rating is 5 metric tons (mt), with an unladen weight of 6.8 mt.
Paus’ Power Flow system extends the range of cassettes that can be installed on existing vehicles, as the system’s valve technology is located on the various attachments. This reduces the number of hose connections routed over the articulated arm and improves the availability and serviceability of the vehicle.
Similarly, Paus’ in-house designers developed Power Drive, an innovative drive system that provides overspeed shutdown when driving downhill; if setpoints are exceeded by a defined value, engine performance is reduced by 50% to protect the drive, avoiding drive system damage and vehicle downtime.
An Underground Force Emerges
As part of its effort to offer an all-Cat lineup of underground equipment, products and services to its customers, Caterpillar has partnered with three underground utility equipment builders—Underground Force, Specialty Vehicle Soutions (SVS) and Robodrill.
Underground Force, a business branch of Idaho, USA-based Groundforce Manufacturing, offers an extensive line of underground support equipment based on Caterpillar standard chassis and powertrains that are modified, where necessary, for specialized underground applications. The product line includes motor graders, personnel carriers, fuel/lube service trucks, pallet handlers and more. The Underground Force model 120K2, Tier 3-compliant underground grader was displayed at Cat’s Global Mining Forum in early May. Powered by a Cat C7 diesel rated at 145 hp (108 kW), the grader comprises a standard Cat 120K base unit modified by Underground Force to offer a shorter overall length, shortened wheelbase, narrower blade width and other features that cater to underground requirements.
Groundforce’s UG30FLT underground fuel and lube truck is built on a Cat AD30 mining truck chassis and is designed to carry 1,500 gallons of fuel and 400 gallons of lubricant and coolant, as well as other customizable product options, with fully baffled product tanks, product filtration and metering, heated product tanks if necessary, and an enclosed reel compartment with roll up doors. It has an outside turning radius of 357.4 in. (9,078 mm). Standard safety features include anti-skid upper deck surfaces, handrails, 3-point cabin and machine access, push out safety glass, steering frame lock, rear window guard, body retaining pins, automatic retarder control, exhaust heat shielding and firewall and burst protection sleeves on critical hoses.
|BTI’s Mine Runner.|
Breaker Technology Inc., a division of Astec, describes its Mine Runner utility carrier as “a modern day solution for a future focused mining operation aimed at safety, lower emissions and increased productivity.” A heavy-duty chassis and axle allow the Mine Runner to be deployed in a variety of configurations that could include a personnel carrier, maintenance/mechanics vehicle, fuel/lube vehicle, crane/scissor lift vehicle or telescopic aerial boom vehicle—allowing companies to add real-time support in ways previously unavailable in underground mining. Equipped with CANbus, the Mine Runner can be integrated into monitoring and maintenance protocols that are being implemented with modern mine equipment.
The unit is driven by BTI’s innovative Hydraulic Wheel Drive (HWD) fluid-controlled power train, which offers numerous advantages over conventional power trains, according to the company.
With 12 in. of ground clearance and more than 7 in. of suspension travel, the Mine Runner is capable of navigating very rough surfaces.
|Manitou MHT 1490 telehandler.|
Taking Telehandlers Underground
The Manitou Group, a French manufacturer of rough-terrain handling equipment, has an extensive range of utility vehicles suitable for underground duties, including forklifts, fixed-boom and rotating telehandlers, and aerial work platforms.
Manitou introduced the latest in its line of heavy-duty telehandlers to the North American market at the CONEXPO trade show earlier this year. The 43,000-lb (19,5000-kg) MHT 1490 is the first model from Manitou to be equipped with an EPA Tier 4f diesel—a Mercedes OM 934LA rated at 176 hp (129 kW) and 553 ft-lb of torque. Standing 9 ft 3 in. (3 m) tall, 22 ft (6.7 m) long and 8 ft 3 in. (2.5 m) wide, with 17 in. (0.44 m) of ground clearance and maximum lift height of 46 ft (14 m), the 1490 appears well-suited for utility work in high-volume, large-scale underground construction projects.
Major features include a triplex chain boom with all components safely housed inside the telescopic tube for protection, automatic rear axle locking for better lateral stability, and easy leveling capabilities that can correct for angles up to 6.5° on stabilizers and 8° on tires only. Three steering modes are available: four-wheel steering for tight turn radius, front-wheel for road travel, and crab steering for side approaches and difficult spaces.