A recent article in International Mining Magazine titled “Ultra-class Haulers at 16% of global truck payload” points out some of the trending figures regarding the continued growth of the ultra-class size haul truck, even in a depressed mining economy. These 290 ton and larger haul trucks have a lower operating cost per unit and with new technology constantly improving fuel consumption, the operating cost should continue to come down.

While moving to new technology can yield big gains, it’s possible for mines to become focused on the payload numbers without spending enough time analyzing the current efficiency of their operations.

If a mine site is under-performing in terms of their ability to move and process ore with their current equipment, upgrading to larger equipment may only exacerbate existing inefficiencies.  In a mine with fewer, larger trucks, one truck delay equals a larger total percentage of lost time. It’s easy to imagine any number of scenarios where small problems with haul roads, shift scheduling, training, and most notably dispatching will have an even larger effect when there are less trucks with larger loads.

Mine sites who want to improve their overall efficiency and production when purchasing ultra-class equipment are turning to fleet management systems to provide them with the data and control they need to streamline their operations. Fleet management systems are able to track the load, wait, and fueling times of haul trucks while also collecting data on machine health and individual load tonnage. With the cost of an ultra-class haul truck topping four million dollars mines want to see returns on their investment as quickly as possible, and having the ability to analyze all areas of their fleet metrics allow them to make the very best use of the larger capacity trucks.

We all know that bigger trucks can haul more ore, but if a mine with twenty small trucks is having problems with efficiency it only makes sense to solve the problem before they become a mine with ten big trucks and the same issue.