Allison Transmission provides enormous advantage for water tender serving brown open cast coal mining site
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
The brown coal open cast mining site in Grevenbroich, near Cologne is a 48 km² hilly landscape littered with monstrous bucket wheel excavators, a 100 km belt conveyer system and mostly gravelled or unpaved access routes. RWE Power AG runs the mine and produces around 100 million tons of brown coal per year for the surrounding power plants. Serving the site with the requirement to reach the scene of a fire or rescue situation within eight minutes is the Garzweiler plant fire brigade, which has recently added an Iveco Trakker 190 AT 36 W chassis to its fleet. In a first for the site, the vehicle designed for the construction market, is configured as a water tender where it has been equipped with fire-fighting bodywork and an Allison 3200 Series transmission with retarder.
The Allison was a basic requirement of the fire brigade. “For an operation in this rough area an all-terrain vehicle with a fully automatic transmission is an enormous advantage,” says Rudolf Niephaus, fire chief inspector and head of the Garzweiler plant fire brigade. “In open cast mining, work is carried out around-the-clock, 365 days per year. The roads change almost every day and we drive in the dark a lot of the time spanning up to 210-metre differences in altitude. In conditions like these, it is essential for the safety of our drivers that their attention is not diverted by shifting gears and that they are able to keep both hands on the steering wheel.”
Iveco Magirus visited the open cast mining and recommended a construction truck configuration instead of a normal on-road chassis, due to its perfectly-suited robust design. To ensure the utmost reliability and durability, extraordinary measures were made as part of the transmission installation. To protect the transmission cooling system from damage and the sand and mud encountered in severe off-road driving, its components were located higher up inside the vehicle frame and protected by steel plating.
Additionally, the PTO provision of the Allison transmission was configured to allow engine-driven operation of the pump for the 2,400-litre water tank and it also controls the foam compound tank.
The Allison boasts numerous advantageous features for this environment where the rescue vehicles are constantly in operation, either tending to emergency situations, patrolling the site or monitoring drives. Each vehicle covers a distance between 10,000 and 15,000 km per year and remains in service up to 15 years. These include a hydraulic torque converter which provides engine-to-transmission coupling, superior acceleration at launch and direct mechanical traction at higher speed. The cushion effect of the torque converter prevents driveline wear and the Allison‘s electronic controls ensure optimal gear shifts and eradicate driver error. “Because the Allison transmission does not use dry clutches, there is no clutch damage,” continues Niephaus. “The Allison makes total purchasing sense, considering the whole life running costs of the vehicle.”
Life in the mine
“Belt conveyer service on the fourth floor level is burning.” “Trail of oil on the service road.“ “Crash between a dump truck and a pickup truck next at the conveyor belt.” These are typical daily calls to the Garzweiler fire brigade. The mine is organised in terraces and the brown coal is mined on six so-called floor levels. On each of these platforms a bucket wheel excavator operates through the different sediment layers. To get quickly from one floor level to another, ramps with 20 percent inclines have been built in close poximity. “The ramps are designed to ensure we get to the scene no later than eight minutes after an incoming emergency call. With 360 HP and an Allison fully automatic transmission in the Iveco Trakker, we overcome them effortlessly,” Niephaus explains.
Thanks to the power shifting and torque multiplication the Allison transmissions ensure superior performance. Steep grades or slippery surfaces of gravel, sand and coal are no problem at all. Furthermore, they provide superior ‚rockability‘ preventing the truck, helped by the weight of the water in its tank, from getting bogged down in the fine grained North Sea sand that abounds the site. Vehicles with manual transmission will bog down much faster and require additional help to get out.
The Garzweiler fire brigade needs high-performing, robust and reliable vehicles to reach every corner of the site. Thanks to the reliability and longevity of the Allison fully automatic transmission, there are fewer breakdowns of the vehicles and less maintenance requirements.