Drivetrain, sealing and thermal management technologies supplier Dana expects to start preproduction tests in the first quarter of 2017 for its Spicer 20D rigid nonsteering axle designed for underground mining applications in harsh, rugged environments.
The company is concluding verification testing on the Spicer 20D drivetrain solution, which Dana global engineering off-highway VP Christophe Dominiak says is the result of the company closely following market trends.
“As a result, we have a deep understanding of the mining industry’s current state and the evolving technologies required to meet its growing demand for safety, serviceability and reliability,” he boasts.
The Spicer 20D axle delivers 25% more load capacity and 40% more torque output, compared with previous models used for midsize mining trucks and load haul dump (LHD) trucks.
The Spicer 20D axle supports midsize LHD trucks with bucket capacities from 9 t to 11 t, as well as mining trucks with payloads of between 20 t and 33 t.
Dominiak highlights that the new axle offers up to 35% more brake power to ensure reliability under full load conditions on all operating grades. It not only improves precision and efficiency, facilitating the loading and hauling of material in higher capacities, but also enhances safety and simplifies maintenance through its new connectivity features.
The axle’s most significant features are its “superior productivity and high power density”, which enable original-equipment manufacturers to increase bucket size and carrying capacities, while reducing the size of powertrain components, he says.
“With a need for optimal vehicle performance and the highest level of safety, this smaller design envelope is vital to acheiving reliable, efficient operations underground.”
Dominiak says the Spicer 20D axle is designed to accommodate Dana’s optional Spicer Smart Suite technology, which is a platform of fully integrated, connected vehicle features that converts operating data from the drivetrain into actionable insights.
He adds that machine-learning algorithms built into the software improve the efficiency of a mining vehicle’s productivity by measuring its performance, forecasting maintenance issues and allowing for more precise manoeuvring in tight subterranean work areas.
“This fully integrated system of connected- vehicle features turns passive drivetrain components into active sources of intelligence, transforming raw data into actionable insights to improve safety, boost efficiency and reduce costs. The Spicer Smart Suite technology has been designed to reduce the risk of vehicle breakdowns in underground mines and improve the efficiency and precision of load transfers, while enhancing the long-term durability of powertrain systems.”
The Spicer 20D axle was globally developed with support from Dana’s headquarters, in Ohio, US, the Dana India technical centre, in Pune, India, and the Dana China technical centre, in Wuxi, China. The Wuxi technical centre serves as Dana’s global headquarters for designing axles used in mining and other heavy-duty applications.
Meanwhile, Dana also offers the mining industry a Spicer Smart Suite package, which is aimed at significantly reducing the risk of vehicle breakdowns at underground mines. The Spicer Smart Suite technology will initially be offered as a package of options for Spicer axles; however, it is expected that the range will be extended to additional drivetrain products.
Vehicle manufacturers are expected to begin preproduction testing of the Spicer Smart Suite’s intelligent load monitoring system for telehandlers in the fourth quarter of this year.
“Engineers are testing the viability of numerous other Spicer Smart Suite packages, which will be announced once they are ready for customer preproduction tests,” adds Dominiak.
Dana is also developing other Spicer Smart Suite capabilities that leverage data for health and diagnostics monitoring, wheel-speed and torque monitoring, steering and suspension status monitoring, and data fusion analysis and communication.
Dominiak says the technology addresses a market need for an enhanced diagnostic system that can provide accurate data for technicians and end-users, while enabling advanced functionality such as autonomous driving.
“As in any industry, learning to properly operate a mining vehicle takes time, training and experience. Inadvertent suboptimal gear-shift patterns can compromise productivity, while human error, of even the most seasoned operators, diminishes equipment performance,” he adds.
Dominiak concludes that, by recognising, learning and anticipating vehicle and operator behaviour, this system can significantly reduce the need for vehicle calibration and allows for operational parameters to be customised, taking into account specific machine characteristics, engineering tolerances and operator tendencies.
The Spicer Smart Suite technology was developed at the Dana mechatronics technology centre in Rovereto,Italy.
The Spicer 20D and Spicer Smart Suite drivetrain solutions were introduced at MINExpo International 2016, which ran from September 26 to 28 in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the US.
“There was an overwhelmingly positive reaction to these new drivetrain solutions for mining vehicles at MINExpo. We met with customers and other members of the mining industry at the show, and everyone has a positive outlook for the future,” Domoniak concludes.