Bulk transport in XXL

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Text: Oliver Schönfeld
Photos: MGM Bulk

16 axles, a proud 32 metres in total length and a gross combination mass of 116 tonnes: The Roadtrain from MGM Bulk and Bruce Rock Engineering, which is used in mining in Australia, sets special standards.

It is hot, dusty and dry in the west of “Down Under”. Copper concentrate is mined here. To transport it, tractors and trailers are enormously challenged. Within the framework of a development partnership, the fleet operator MGM Bulk and the vehicle manufacturer Bruce Rock Engineering have succeeded in pushing back the limits of what is possible: instead of 27.5 metres, the roadtrains used are now 32 metres long – dimensions that would be unimaginable on European roads. The powerful tractor pulls two tipping trailers. Thanks to the high-quality construction with an extremely low dead weight, the unit can significantly save costs in the mining sector. At the same time, it reduces heavy traffic on the road, which not only protects the environment but also the road fabric.

Twelve months development time

After all official approvals and permits have been obtained, three units of the new development with a total of 16 axles and 60 tyres have been successfully in daily operation since the end of 2021. This was preceded by more than twelve months of joint planning and development by MGM Bulk and Bruce Rock Engineering: “Our entire team – as well as our customer from the mining industry – is very proud to now see the new units on the road. The team at Bruce Rock Engineering has once again delivered a high-quality transport solution that is designed for reliability, durability and performance,” describes Allan Thomas, fleet manager at MGM Bulk in Bunbury, Western Australia. The two companies have maintained a close technical partnership since 2014, and around 400 trailer units have been built during this time – most of them equipped with running gears from BPW Bergische Achsen.

»With the newly developed Roadtrain, we increase the maximum possible payload by almost 20 per cent.«

Damion Verhoogt, Managing Director Bruce Rock Engineering

More efficiency, less heavy goods traffic

Why did the companies put so much effort in extending the already impressive Roadtrains even further? A higher transport volume per trip means more efficiency and lower costs – and at the same time relieves the environment because it saves emissions. “Compared to the previous 27.5-metre combination, we have increased the GCM (Gross combination mass) from 99 to 116 tonnes. This corresponds to an increase in the maximum possible payload of almost 20 per cent,” describes Damion Verhoogt, managing director of Bruce Rock Engineering. The company operates nationwide, designing and manufacturing trailer solutions for agriculture, mining, construction and general freight transport. The trailers often have to prove themselves in particularly demanding conditions, such as extreme weather and changing road surfaces. Bruce Rock is well-known for vehicles with optimised, low tae weight that are still durable and robust. Reliability, longevity and performance are the focus. In addition, the company offers comprehensive repair, maintenance and tyre services for trucks and trailers.

Driving characteristics and driving dynamics improved

Thanks to the high-quality construction and the optimised, further reduced tare weight, the unit brings cost savings to the mining industry while reducing heavy traffic on the road. Verhoogt continues: “When developing such concepts, it is always a question of maintaining the balance between the vehicle’s own weight, stability and durability, maximum payload and overall costs. ” It is also always important to keep the driver’s everyday life in mind – in terms of driving characteristics and safety of the XXL train. “With this multi-combination, we have jointly succeeded in further improving the vehicle dynamics and handling at high speeds, while retaining the Roadtrain’s well-known good handling characteristics in the low speed range,” says Verhoogt. “MGM’s drivers confirm to us that both goals have been achieved.”

Relying on BPW components for decades

The increase in productivity also immediately convinced fleet manager Allan Thomas. The feedback from the drivers is equally positive: “According to their statements, the vehicles are at least as safe, precise and easy to handle as their shorter predecessors. There was no need for acclimatisation or major changes in driving style.” The 32-metre roadtrains also have optimised safety systems that even enable them to behave better on the road. BPW ECO Disc TS2 disc brake axles with light aluminium hubs and a steering axle in the sophisticated four-axle groups were chosen. The decision in favor of the disc brake was based on reasons such as the achievable weight savings, maintenance savings and the demanding off-road conditions for this task. “Wherever possible, we have already had our trailers fitted with BPW running gears for decades,” Allan Thomas explains further: “Both our managing director and I have known components from BPW since the 1970s, and we really appreciate the reliability and robustness of the trailer axle systems.”

Family-run transport company for special requirements

With over 60 years of experience, 400 employees, a core fleet of 160 tractors and more than 550 trailers, the MGM Group is one of the leading transport companies in the state of Western Australia. It aims to help its clients provide safe and reliable logistics services – and in doing so, it is also constantly introducing innovations to the market. For example, MGM has been working on extra-long roadtrains and their advantages for productivity, cost efficiency and ecology for many years. In particular, the MGM Bulk division with bulk transports and the longer trailer trains has been recording above-average growth for several years. A large number of customers throughout Western Australia rely on the services of the family-run company – for bulk transport as well as for material handling.

“Mining in our region has been the focus of our family company’s work for decades,” Allan Thomas continues. In addition to these bulk goods transports the haulage company also works for limestone and quarry companies. According to Allan Thomas, three 32-metre Roadtrains are not the end yet: “If our customers have the necessary transport needs, more units of this type will certainly follow.

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