Coal Age

DEC 2012

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mining tires New Technology Allows Mine Operators to Get Optimum Tire Performance Several tire manufacturers debut new systems and tires for ultra-class haul trucks BY STEVE FISCOR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Michelin rolled out the 63-inch VDR2 at MINExpo 2012. The new haul truck tire has a tread band that is 20% thicker. Striving for the highest levels of productivity, surface mines place high demands on truck tires. Today's haul trucks are extremely powerful and the tires are expected to reliably support the load for the longest possible periods. Why not? At $60,000 a pop or more, they should perform at the highest levels possible. More importantly, if that truck goes in for repairs, downtime costs eat an operation alive. The tires need to be efficient enough to run cool, but robust enough to transport increasingly heavy loads. For the longest time, mine operators had no clue what was happening with haul truck tires. Ttire manufacturers gradually introduced monitoring systems that allowed the mines to make decisions that might save a tire and hours of downtime. Naturally, as technology advanced, these systems became capable of giving mine operators probably more data than they need. In a 44 www.coalage.com case where more is better, new software is allowing miners to channel the data to better meet their needs. All of the major tire manufacturers and several distributors exhibited at MINExpo 2012, during September in Las Vegas. What follows is a brief synopsis of some of the technologies and large mining tires debuted at the event. Tire Monitoring Systems Reduce Costs At MINExpo 2012, Bridgestone Commercial Solutions launched B-TAG (Bridgestone Intelligent Tag), a system that monitors tire pressure and temperature and reports the data in real time. "Using B-TAG enables productivity gains," said Kurt Danielson, president, Bridgestone Commercial Solutions. "Manual tire checks on a haul truck can average 6 minutes a tire. With BTAG installed, checks take only about 1 minute per truck." It doesn't take an engi- neering degree to determine that 1 minute is better than 36 minutes, or that 10 minutes is better than 6 hours for a fleet of 10 tucks. The B-TAG hardware is installed on the vehicle. Data is sent from sensors in the tire to the onboard system and then transferred to the mine dispatch system, a B-TAG handheld reader or downloaded directly for analysis. Mine operators can not only see data in real time, but data can also be compiled to identify pressure trends or assess and adjust operating conditions for more long-term solutions. "Tire pressure and temperature are especially important in mine operations, since the haul trucks run for extended periods of time and manual measurement often means increased downtime," said Danielson. "B-TAG monitors without human involvement and gives mine operators the data they need to make adjustments early, which can extend tire life and make the work environment safer." The company now offers a suite of products and services, Bridgestone Mining Solutions (BMS), designed to increase a mine's productivity, and reduce costs with a constant regard for safety. BMS combines tire sales and repair with tire management and retreading to address every phase of a mine's tire-related needs. "The mining companies told us what they need most is support in keeping their people and their work environment safe, help with increasing productivity, and assistance in driving costs out of their operations," Danielson said. "Although tires are our main product, we realize that service is key to increasing our customers' uptime. BMS is a response to what our customers wanted and needed: a total solution that speaks December 2012

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