Modern Mining: Featured News

Volvo’s newly launched 60-ton A60H articulated dump truck is proving to be a big hit with customers in South Africa and neighbouring countries, with 20 units having been sold thus far by Babcock, the Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) dealer for Southern Africa. “The A60H clearly fills a gap in the market,” comments David Vaughan (left), Managing Director of Babcock’s equipment business. “We’re seeing incredibly strong interest in it and we believe we will soon be securing more sales.”

Vaughan adds that Volvo’s new EC950E crawler excavator, which ranks as the largest excavator that Volvo has ever produced, is also attracting strong interest. “We’ve sold three EC950Es and they’re already out in the field working for customers. Moreover, we’re fielding a large number of enquiries from potential customers who are impressed by its market-leading specifications and by the fact that it is a perfect match for the A60H and indeed many other machines.”

The EC950E crawler excavator and the A60H made their African debut in May this year at a launch function held at Babcock's new Middelburg facility.

The A60H and the EC950E were introduced to the local market in May this year at a launch function held at Babcock’s new state-of-the-art Middelburg facility, built at a cost of R100 million. This was the first opportunity for customers in the Southern African region to view the machines, which were first unveiled at last year’s bauma show in Germany.

The A60H, which has a payload of 55 metric tons (tonnes) or 61 short tons, is the world’s largest true articulated hauler and delivers up to 40 % more productivity than Volvo’s best-selling hauler, the A40, which offers a payload of 39 tonnes. It has several features which will be familiar to current series A40 operators, eliminating the need for major retraining of operators. It is powered by a Volvo D16F engine offering a maximum power output of 495 kW, can travel at speeds up to 55 km/h and has an on-board weighing system as standard.

The A60H is a major step forward for Volvo and takes the articulated hauler concept into territory previously dominated by rigid trucks. The introduction of the new machine is, however, consistent with Volvo’s record of innovation in articulated hauler technology. The company was responsible for pioneering the articulated hauler concept back in the 1960s and has dominated the global market ever since. The payloads of its haulers have increased steadily over the years, an illustration of this being the fact that the first 15-tonne capacity machine built in 1966 can fit into the haul body of the new A60H.

Interestingly, Volvo earlier this year celebrated the production of its 75 000th articulated hauler. The company claims to have built more than half of the articulated haulers ever made and says that more than 50 000 of its machines are still in regular use around the world, a tribute to their durability even when subjected to the most arduous of conditions such as those typically found in mining.

Vaughan is excited by the reception the A60H has received. “The fact that we’ve taken orders for 20 of the machines is highly impressive if you consider that we’ve only been marketing them for a short period and that the entire market for articulated dump trucks in South Africa in a typical year is only about 400 units – most of them smaller-capacity machines,” he says. “What we’re finding is that customers and prospective customers who would previously have gone for a rigid truck are now giving serious consideration to the A60H, particularly for sites with poor underfoot conditions.”

He points out that sites of this type are particularly common in South Africa’s Highveld coalfields where short yet extremely steep ramps have to be climbed to access boxcuts made through overburden in order to expose high-grade coal.

The first A60Hs to be sold in Southern Africa were ordered by Burgh Plant Hire, a long-standing Volvo customer based in eMalahleni. These machines have now been delivered and are hard at work in open-pit coal mining applications. Other purchasers include a diamond miner in the Northern Cape and a Namibian company, which has taken delivery of five of the haulers (with another five on order), also for use in diamond mining operations. Vaughan also mentions that Babcock has received some serious enquiries from north of South Africa’s borders, which could potentially result in further sales.

Turning to the EC950E excavator, Vaughan describes it as a superb machine. “Previously our biggest excavator was the EC750D, which is a 75 tonne class unit offering a gross power of 385 kW and a bucket capacity of up to 5,16 m3,” he states. “The EC950E retains all the features that have made the EC750D so popular but takes Volvo into the 90-tonne market. Offering a gross power of 450 kW and a bucket capacity of up to 6 m3, it is the perfect tool for demanding high-end mining applications. Not only is it a match for the A60H but it is also the ideal partner for the Terex Trucks rigid trucks which we market, including the top-of-the-line TR100, which has a 90-tonne payload.”

Equipped with a powerful, fuel-efficient 16 litre engine, the EC950E delivers over 424 kN of breakout force and 408 kN of tearout force. It features a wide track gauge, long track length, a retractable undercarriage and an optimised counterweight, resulting in a well-balanced, solid machine. It comes with a new electro-hydraulic control system and Volvo’s unique ECO mode.

All machine interfaces – including joysticks, keypad and LCD monitor – are ergonomically positioned and designed for optimum control and efficiency. Operators can work with comfort and confidence in the most challenging environments in the comfortable, spacious and low-noise cab of the EC950E.

Vaughan makes the point that the excellent sales of the A60H and the EC950E have not been at the expense of other models in the Volvo line-up. “What is remarkable is that in the midst of a severe downturn in mining, we are doing well with the entire Volvo range, most notably the A40 hauler,” he says. “There is also strong demand for Volvo’s wheel loaders. We’ve just sold twelve L150 models, all of them for use in coal handling and most of them going to brand new customers.”

A major contributor to Babcock’s success, says Vaughan, is the attention the company gives to aftermarket support. “We strive to be the best in the country in terms of the service we offer our customers,” he states. “This is absolutely our highest priority – other than safety, of course – and we really work hard at it. Volvo CE, our principal, conducts customer surveys on a global basis every quarter. These surveys are carried out entirely independently by Volvo CE and we do not participate directly. We consistently score very highly, with many customers saying they would have no hesitation in recommending Babcock to other owners of plant and equipment.”

Babcock’s aftermarket service is implemented through an extensive network of branches throughout the Southern African region. When machines bought from Babcock are deployed even further afield, the company still has the ability to provide full backup. “We have one customer who has taken our machines to West Africa and to the island of St Helena,” notes Vaughan. “In both cases, we were able to supply a service consistent with our normal standards by putting spares and personnel on site. We’re very experienced in providing backup in even the remotest of areas.”

Finally, and looking ahead, Vaughan says that Volvo CE will not be resting on the laurels it has earned with the A60H and the EC950E. “This is a company that constantly innovates. I’m not at liberty to go into any detail but there are some exciting developments in the pipeline, some of which will be of particular interest to our mining customers,” he concludes.

Report by Arthur Tassell.

Contact Modern Mining

Title: Editor
Name: Arthur Tassell
Email: mining@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Bennie Venter
Email: benniev@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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