Austin Engineering breaks the mold on every project bringing one-of-a-kind mining equipment solutions to forward-thinking operations for decades. So, it’s no surprise that developing tough, long-lasting truck bodies would mean drafting with Hardox® wear plate.
Nearly half a century ago, mining trucks rumbled along as mega heavyweights in their class, hauling a mere 100 tons and often fashioned from 690mpa yield strength steel. Any kind of redesign project to lighten up these inefficient haulers got sidelined by status quo thinking, and not many attempts could be made to challenge payload capacities without drastically tipping the scales.
The sheer weight from bulky steels required to handle loads safely contributed to their girth. Then, to extend service life, engineers had to add a hefty helping of abrasion resistant (AR) steel liners fitted to cradle gritty mining media like slurries of granite, quartz and sand or just boulders, rocks and stone. Plus, using conventional abrasion resistant steel meant long days in the workshop dealing with brittleness, cracking and inconsistencies along with poor forming and welding properties.
These factors restricted meaningful truck configuration innovations until the 1980’s when WESTECH, now known as Austin Engineering, designed and built their first Hardox® 400 abrasion resistant steel plates into a liner application.
First to market, first to lead
Initially, Austin noticed the ease of working with Hardox® wear plate in the workshop when compared to what they had specified over the years. This inspired the company’s Global Engineering Manager, Rick Reynolds, to take a bold step and design the body’s main plates with Hardox® 400 thereby eliminating the original 690mpa material. This allowed Austin to dramatically reduce body weight and immediately increase payload.
“That move was a huge success and really accelerated the migration from very heavy, inefficient equipment to lighter weight, more efficient equipment,” Reynolds explains. “Austin was the first in the industry to make that move, and as pioneers in designing mining equipment, we chose to partner with SSAB to drive innovation together.”
Development through close collaboration
From that point on over the next few decades, Austin continued to push design boundaries with trucks that now have the capabilities to carry over 400 tons and introduce even more ways to achieve lighter vehicles with Hardox® 450 and 500 as main plates, continuing to set the standard for tough applications in the mining industry.
To remain at the forefront of the steel industry, SSAB continuously invests in research and development, technical support and joint initiatives for customers to get the most out of its advanced high-strength steels. Close collaboration leads to a deeper understanding of market needs and drives new product initiatives. With Hardox® 500 Tuf, SSAB is the steel industry’s first to introduce a 500 Brinell range abrasion resistant wear plate with properties on par with structural steel.
“Introducing a unique grade like Hardox® 500 Tuf is the result of working closely with our customers and demonstrates our commitment to helping them to innovate and advance their industries.”
Extreme hardness meets guaranteed toughness
Hardox® 500 Tuf features excellent weldability, formability and impact toughness, delivering high strength, extreme hardness and guaranteed toughness in a single wear plate – a perfect fit for the rigorous mining industry.
Today, Austin uses Hardox® 500 Tuf in a variety of mining applications and is able to reduce the weight of components by as much as 25% without sacrificing the wear life of the components. In other cases, Austin can offer extended life as much as 25% without increasing the weight.
Making friends in the workshop
When it comes to comparing weldability and formability of Hardox® 500 Tuf with Hardox® 450, the properties are similar, however, using thinner Hardox® 500 Tuf can actually reduce bending forces and keep preheating prior to welding at a minimum. It can also lead to significant improvements in terms of service life and payload capacities.
For example, Austin used a 1” thick Hardox® 450 to create a custom solution, but when they transitioned it to ¾” Hardox® 500 Tuf, they were able to reduce components’ weight by 25%.
“With these type of projects it is a matter of going through every little detail to make sure that the result is as expected. We offer many tools and expertise to assist our customers. It is not only looking at increased service life or reduced weight, but also examining all steps when it comes to welding, supply of test material or stress calculations that needs to be carefully investigated before starting serial production,” says Jonas Allebert, Wear Specialist SSAB.
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