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The Cummins Tier 4 QSK60 delivers up to 5 per cent fuel savings.

Hidden in the frame of a massive mining machine, a 60-litre V16 diesel engine rated at 2500hp may not appear significant in a physical sense. Yet its contribution to lower cost of production – and reduced carbon footprint – is critical.

In mobile mining equipment, Cummins’ QSK60 has set the benchmark for life-to-overhaul for high horsepower engines – a key factor in reducing costs.

Eliminating at least one engine change-out in the life of a haul truck chassis is significant.

The latest generation QSK60, which complies with stringent Tier 4 emissions levels, is also using up to 5 per cent less fuel, which is far-reaching not only in terms of cost reduction but also vital as mining companies commit to a decarbonised future.

Keeping costs down while helping protect the environment is a winner for both the industry and miners.

Cummins Asia Pacific OEM mining business manager Stewart McKeddie said the company was seeing fuel economy improvement of up to 5 per cent with the Tier 4 QSK60 compared with the Tier 2 product, which translates to a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“The fact the engine is burning less fuel also means engine life is extended, by up to 12 months in some mine operations in Australia,” he said.

Diesel particulate emissions are also slashed with the Tier 4 engine, by 80 per cent compared with the Tier 2 product.

Improvements incorporated in the latest QSK60 are mainly to optimise the combustion recipe. These focus on piston design, increased MCRS fuel injection pressure, and an advanced air handling system.

Early generation QSK60 can be optimised at rebuild time by replacing the old fuel system with the latest technology high-pressure modular common rail system.

As highlighted in an article on Rio Tinto’s technology roadmap in 2019, major environmental and cost reduction benefits are being achieved with the QSK60 in haul truck operations at the miner’s massive iron ore operations in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

The relentless drive for improved cost efficiency and reduced carbon footprint at Rio Tinto sees innovation and technology at its core.

In recent years, the miner has optimised more than 200 of its QSK60 haul truck engines at rebuild time by replacing the old fuel system with the latest technology high-pressure modular common rail system (MCRS) to achieve lower operating and maintenance costs, and huge emissions reduction.

This engine is known as the ‘Advantage Plus’, for good reason.

The QSK60, in ‘Advantage Plus’ form, is delivering fuel savings up to 5.5 per cent over the earlier generation 60-litre Cummins at Rio Tinto – a saving that is significant not only in terms of reduced life cycle costs but also greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

Not only that, diesel particulate emissions are massively reduced by 63 per cent for both environmental and health benefits.

Longer life-to-overhaul is another significant cost reduction measure: QSK60 engine life at Rio Tinto has progressively increased from 25,000 hours to 36,000-plus hours in the haul truck fleet.

Extended engine service intervals of 1000 hours – up from the previous 750 hours – are now standard for Rio Tinto’s haul truck fleet. Filtration efficiency is critical to that, with Fleetguard’s filter technology underpinning the extended intervals.

Cummins’ Eliminator oil filtration system – replacing the traditional spin-on filter elements – and increased engine oil capacity are other key elements of the 1000-hour intervals. A 261-litre sump is replaced with a high-volume oil pan on the ‘Advantage Plus’ engine.

Cummins’ remote engine monitoring system, PrevenTech, is another critical element in the cost reduction equation. The system provides complete 24/7 engine health management, helping reduce downtime by prioritising and notifying when actions are required.

Alerts and recommendations are sent through by the Cummins Care team via email, phone and a web-based customer dashboard. The system also increases technician safety and efficiency by viewing live engine data remotely without the need for technician/engine interaction