One of the areas into which Karratha Earthmoving has diversified over the years is into the haulage of materials for the resources companies. The biggest Volvos in the fleet are rated to pull 175 tonnes GCM, pulling quad or triple side tippers. Five of the biggest, are running out of Port Hedland, rated at 700 hp and using hub reduction to handle the high masses. These trucks do 20,000 km every fortnight, running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This intensity of work sees the these prime movers making regular trips back to the company workshop in Karratha for essential maintenance to keep them performing at the productivity levels required to make the task economically viable.
“Those trucks come with a good GPS monitoring system from the factory,” says Luke Priddis, Workshop Manager for Karratha Earthmoving. “So we can see whether they’re driving with the gear stick or in auto, what fuel they are using, how hard they are braking. Because they are on the heavy work we keep them well serviced. We have to do a lot more checks than on normal trucks. There are things which are under a lot more strain than they would be on many trucks.
“Things like engine mounts break a lot more often than they do on the other trucks. We need to run full synthetic oils instead of mineral. Where the major service goes out to 100,000 km on the other Volvos, for these trucks we bring them in for the big service after 60,000 km. We have to do valve adjustment a lot more regularly on these trucks, as well.”
There are some problems for workshops in the Pilbara which are not found in many other parts of Australia. One of the big issues for Luke and his team is the dust, and of course, the unremitting heat.
“The dusty conditions require us to have the air filters changed out on every service,” says Luke. “The dust contributes to early wear and tear on a lot of components, which we have to keep an eye on. Because of the heat we get a lot of stuff like air conditioner problems, the systems fail. Tyres don’t last as long, you also get a lot of coolant leaks and popped hoses. Hoses will swell up.
“With a lot of the bigger trucks pulling the triples and quads, they are serviced before the summer comes around. We pull the radiators out and clean them out, so they are ready for the heat, or they just won’t make it.
“Sometimes people from Volvo come here and do a download of the truck to see how it’s handling the job. We also run a couple of trucks with test oil for another company. We put the oil in from brand new and then it just stays in the truck until they want it pulled out. That oil gets sent overseas for analysis.”