On the haul towards lower emissions

A large Australian quarry operator and two major quarrying market players based in Europe are targeting reduced CO2 emissions in the hauling sector
September 18, 2023
By Liam McLoughlin
The Rokbak RA30 hauler in operation at Aerolite Quarries. The site supplies lightweight scoria volcanic rock, which produces more product at less weight to be delivered and lowers the carbon footprint. Image: Rokbak
The Rokbak RA30 hauler in operation at Aerolite Quarries. The site supplies lightweight scoria volcanic rock, which produces more product at less weight to be delivered and lowers the carbon footprint. Image: Rokbak

An articulated hauler from Scotland-based manufacturer Rokbak is transporting hundreds of tonnes of rock daily at a demanding site that provides important construction materials to locations around southern Australia.

The Rokbak RA30 hauler is operating at Aerolite Quarries, which is based half-an-hour north of Geelong in Victoria. Aerolite is a leading producer of construction materials for large infrastructure projects, supplying scoria and basalt-based construction materials to Melbourne and the surrounding area. A very light honeycomb volcanic rock, scoria possesses a high strength rate and low tonnes-to-cubic metre, allowing more product at less weight to be delivered – important as this lowers the carbon footprint.

The nondescript crushed rock is used for road base and overpasses throughout Victoria, and, as one of the region’s biggest scoria suppliers, Aerolite projects often require 60,000 tonnes in mere months. With the RA30’s arrival on site in Anakie, the articulated hauler is assisting the Aerolite operation.

Aerolite Quarries operates on a large scale, supplying thousands of tonnes of construction materials daily to meet the demands of significant infrastructure projects across Victoria.

Since arriving on site, the RA30 has demonstrated its efficiency working in a constant circuit, going back and forth between the fixed plant and the mining area.

“We are flat out all the time,” states Aerolite Quarries general manager Trevor Bartlett. “We’ve done a lot of projects where we are supplying 50 or 60,000 tonnes over a time of a period of months, hence the need for more and more equipment.”

Covering 1,800 hectares, Aerolite Quarries contains two scoria quarries and a basalt bluestone quarry. Excavators fill up the RA30, which takes the material across a distance of 100m to be processed at one of two fixed crushing plants. Aerolite has two large fixed plants, which process between 1,000 to 1,500 tonnes per plant per day.

The quarry operator says the Rokbak is efficient and consistent, with the capability of a 28-tonne haul. The machine's superior traction and stability, combined with its payload, mean it can transport larger quantities of construction materials and maximise productivity. The RA30's advanced articulated steering system also allows for greater manoeuvrability, effortlessly navigating challenging terrains and confined spaces easily.

“The vision and the cameras are very good,” adds Trevor. “There are no blind spots, so the drivers can see everything, which is critical for us. The side mirrors are big, the camera works exceptionally well, and the view through the windows in all three directions is perfect for us.”

The Australian articulated hauler market is the fifth-biggest in the world. The country consistently sees high demand and experiences an extremely buoyant industry, into which Rokbak is making inroads.

“In Australia, we’ve seen the Rokbak colours go down very well,” says Lee Irving, Rokbak regional business manager. “That sand-coloured aesthetic is distinctive from any other equipment colour, and the brand name is growing and standing by itself.”

Hyundai is entering the ADT market with the new HA30A and HA45A models

Rokbak has further expanded its US dealer network by partnering with Alpha & Omega Equipment Sales and Rental – one of Texas’ leading providers of construction equipment. Rokbak says the new partnership supports its expansion plans, reinforces its commitment to customers and strengthens its presence in this important market.

Alpha & Omega will bring both the RA30 and RA40 to its customers in Lubbock and Midland-Odessa, Texas, who work in industries including construction and mining.

Jackie Johnson Sr., CEO of Alpha & Omega, said: “In Texas, there are over US$35bn of infrastructure projects that will be awarded in the next two quarters. We’ve already had multiple requests for these haulers, and we’re confident that the RA30 and RA40 will contribute to the success of our customers’ projects and allow us to enter new markets – such as the infrastructure industry.”

Around 60% of the machines that leave Rokbak’s Motherwell factory head across the Atlantic to customers in America. The US is leading articulated hauler demand with huge infrastructure spend and significant construction activity around house and road building. The total articulated hauler market for North America is usually around 3,500 units, with 2022 closing out with an expectation-defying 4,000 units. North American customers currently account for nearly half of the total market, which was just over 9,000 units in 2022.

“As we’ve seen in multiple territories, the Rokbak rebrand has led to accelerated demand in North America,” says Rokbak regional sales manager Dan Meara. “And with that level of interest in our products, expanding our dealer network and partnering with reputable dealers like Alpha & Omega is key to getting our haulers working for even more customers.”

A new collaboration agreement between Heidelberg Materials and Volvo Group is aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions in the operation of hauling vehicles.

The aim is to jointly investigate and develop how the hauling, in addition to loading, needs of Heidelberg Materials can be solved with the help of electrified vehicles and related services. As part of the agreement, Volvo Group’s emission-free solutions, a mix of its electric trucks and construction equipment machines, will be put to work in several Heidelberg Materials’ Northern European sites and quarries.

In the Northern Europe region, land-based transport accounts for 6% of the value-chain carbon footprint. Electrification of the Northern European fleet can potentially reduce annual CO2 emissions by up to 200,000 tonnes. In addition, electrified vehicles provide a quieter and better work environment.

Volvo CE and Heidelberg Materials aim is to jointly investigate and develop how the loading and hauling needs of Heidelberg Materials can be solved with the help of electrified vehicles and related service

“The partnership with Volvo is a lighthouse project in our industry and has the potential to significantly push the decarbonisation of our entire value chain in Northern Europe. We look forward to working together to identify and implement state-of-the-art solutions for a fast climate transition in the construction sector,” says Heidelberg Materials CEO Dr Dominik von Achten.

Martin Lundstedt, CEO and president of Volvo Group, says: “New collaborative partnerships like this address climate change across the value chain. While we are focused on reducing carbon emissions for both our products and our own operations, we are also committed to helping our customers to lead by example through innovative, well-orchestrated collaborations that deliver much-needed change.”

A six-month joint feasibility study will evaluate which emission-free vehicle technology and charging infrastructure will best suit the requirements of Heidelberg Materials’ operations regarding operating efficiency, maintenance and charging at the sites. The holistic study will provide a unique opportunity to map, tailor and implement a complete CO2  reduction programme throughout the operations considering transport and loading activities. The project will mainly focus on the larger sites in the region, with the first vehicle in operation at the cement plant in Slite, Sweden, already this summer.

Heidelberg Materials and Volvo Group have started a collaboration to cut carbon emissions. Pic: Volvo CE
Heidelberg Materials and Volvo Group have started a collaboration to cut carbon emissions. Pic: Volvo CE

Hyundai Construction Equipment is entering the articulated dump truck market with two new models in its rapidly expanding line of heavy-construction and earthmoving equipment. The HA30A and HA45A have rated payloads of 28 tonnes and 41 tonnes respectively, which the manufacturer says provides an ideal haul-truck match for its larger crawler excavators and wheeled loaders.

Aimed at the popular 30- and 45-tonne sectors, the HA30A and HA45A are built around a full-time six-wheel drive concept, with front and rear limited slip differentials and a longitudinal differential that can be manually locked, for maximum drive and traction on difficult terrain.

The trucks have a compact chassis design, to aid manoeuvrability, with a sloping rear frame and a front-mounted differential integrated into the ZF transmission, allowing for a shorter front-frame section. This results in the smallest turning radius in the sector and outstanding stability. Self-levelling hydro-gas suspension on the front axle further supports a comfortable ride, delivering maximum tractability in tough ground conditions.

Hyundai has employed powerful EU Stage V-compliant Scania diesel engines to power both trucks. The HA30A uses a five-cylinder, 9.3-litre, DC9 turbocharged diesel, developing 375hp (276kW) and 1,876Nm of torque. The larger HA45A employs a six-cylinder, 12.7-litre DC13 diesel engine, producing a maximum 500hp (368kW) and 2,476Nm of torque.

Finland-based Metso has signed an agreement to acquire Ab A. Häggblom, a privately owned Finnish engineering and manufacturing company. The company’s key offering includes mining truck bodies and buckets. Häggblom's service portfolio includes wear parts, truck body and bucket refurbishments, as well as related field services. Häggblom has partnered with Metso for several years in the manufacturing of truck bodies.

Metso says the acquisition will broaden its offering in bodies and buckets by providing complete end-to-end hauling and loading solutions and strengthening the company’s position in the aftermarket. The aim is to leverage Häggblom's strong engineering and manufacturing expertise in collaboration with existing partners on a regional and global basis.

Heikki Metsälä, president, consumables business area at Metso, says that hauling and loading is a growing business, and the company’s goal is to further develop its capability to serve its customers in this area.

Metsälä added: “Häggblom's product range, manufacturing know-how and engineering capabilities, as well as service expertise are a good addition to Metso's wear-parts portfolio.”

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