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“The arrangement has worked, our partnership is sound…”

Says Ken Dunn, UK mobile plant manager for Sibelco UK as he reviews the last four years association and looks forward to a continued future, operating Volvo articulated haulers at the company's clay extraction operations in north and south Devon with Volvo Construction Equipment.

For the past four years 19 Volvo articulated haulers have been pounding the haul roads at Sibelco UK's ball clay operations in north Devon and at Preston Manor Works, Kingsteignton. During this period a strong relationship with Volvo Construction Equipment has evolved resulting in the decision to replace like with like. "The mix isn't exactly the same this time as we've been able to evaluate production capabilities over time," explained Ken Dunn. "However, the important issue for us is the way in which we've been supported by the whole of the team at Volvo since we kicked this off back in 2005. The maintenance support, back up and co-operation we get is truly second to none," he continued citing the commitment of providing a full time resident Volvo engineer on site, the support from Volvo's customer centre at Treforest and from sales and product specialists working continuously to maintain a professional service.

In all a total of 10 A30E and 9 A25E articulated trucks have replaced the original batch of machines. The detail to the specification of the new arrivals has also been determined from the experience gained over the last four years. For example, each truck has been equipped with full overhung tailgates, Groeneveld Twin greasing systems, Simret brake testers, Volvo Caretrack advanced telematics and Prolec weigh loaders with the capability of transmitting data back to a central point. The development of the Prolec weigh and log system has been a strategic one for Sibelco, since the evaluation of stock throughout the 80 different products handled on site was always, at best, a "good estimation". Now, with weigh loaders installed on the trucks, the business of knowing how much material and its location on site has helped to revolutionise the production process at both the north and south Devon sites.

Using the data from the Volvo Caretrack Advanced telemetry and analysing information on each of the trucks operating data with 'Matris' (Machine Tracking Information System) has, in Ken Dunn's opinion, enhanced the close co-operation between Sibelco and Volvo Construction Equipment in the successful uptime, maintenance and operation of the fleet. Everything including fuel consumption, maintenance costs from a simple light bulb through to a major component change and even tyre wear are continually monitored by both Sibelco and Volvo and the information then used in a pro-active way.

Another consequence of running trucks with 24 and 30 tonne carrying capacities on both sites has led to the general increase in the size of loading shovels working around the bins, re-handling product and loading lorries. Volvo L110F, L120F and L150F loading shovels have also been recently procured in addition to an updated fleet of Volvo 20 tonne road going lorries.

The Volvo A25E and A30E haulers are both equipped with a Volvo 9-litre turbo-charged high-performance low emission Tier III diesel engine developing 305 and 343 hp respectively which develops high torque at low engine speed. This is an important feature when starting from a standstill, making the hauler easy to manoeuvre in difficult terrain. The machines have all-wheel drive and 100% differential-locks, giving the operator many driving options. The haulers can go practically anywhere, economically and efficiently. The entire drive train - engine, transmission, drop box and axles - is made up of Volvo components.

The dump body on the A25E has a load capacity of 24000kg with a 15.6m³ heaped SAE 2:1 volume with the full tailgate fitted whilst its larger brother can carry 28000kg in its 18.1m³ skip. The bodies are constructed from 400HB steel throughout providing both high yield and tensile strength. A unique feature on Volvo articulated haulers is the patented Volvo Load and Dump Brake. When the hauler is in position for loading or dumping, the operator presses a button to automatically apply the brakes and place the transmission in neutral to improve safety and minimize wear on the brakes and drive train. This same button is also used to transmit the weight, the type of product being tipped and the location where it is tipping - back to a central computer to give accurate stock values throughout the site. Once loading or dumping has been completed, the operator selects a gear and the Load and Dump Brake is disengaged.

Formerly known as WBB Minerals and part of the multinational Sibelco Group, Sibelco UK with its headquarters located at Sandbach in Cheshire provides advanced industrial minerals to customers throughout the world across a broad range of industries including ceramics, glass, foundry, sports & leisure and paper.

Volvo Construction Equipment Ltd markets wheeled loaders, articulated haulers, hydraulic excavators, graders, Volvo Compact Equipment and Volvo road machinery products. There are 9 strategically placed customer support centres and a network of compact equipment dealers to ensure high quality customer support is maintained throughout Great Britain.