The coal-rich province of Xinjiang, China, is under pressure with increasing demand for energy. Previously, low-specification construction equipment have not been able to keep up with the pace – but Volvo CE’s new G-Series wheel loaders are helping one mine deliver on its promises.
Xinjiang is the largest autonomous region of China, located in the northwest. This vast 1.6 million km2 province borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The area boasts a varied landscape, one that ranges from ice-capped mountains, flowing rivers and luscious grassland to arid deserts. Over millions of years this diverse geography and geology has resulted in rich coal resources that account for more than 40% of the country’s total fossil fuel reserves.
The Xinjiang Heishan Open-pit Mine Co. Ltd (Heishan Mine Company) has seized the opportunity to excavate coal from a mountainous location in the north of the province where temperatures dip to -30°C during the winter months. But operations continue regardless, so the company requires high quality, reliable equipment to work all year round. “In the past we’ve used low-specification equipment that has only managed uptime of around nine months a year,” explains Ma Habin, the mine’s director. “But in 2005 we started buying Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) wheel loaders – and the difference is astonishing.”
“With the help of Volvo CE’s reliable service and maintenance network, our machines are available to use all year round – even during the harsh winter months,” says Habin. The site currently operates four L180Fs and two High-Lift wheel loaders from Volvo CE’s newest G-Series (L180Gs). The company sticks carefully to Volvo CE’s recommended maintenance plan to ensure 100% availability.
The Heishan Mine Company operates four wheel loaders that are over three years old with close to 20,000 working hours on the clock. Habin says: “The machines are very reliable – after three years we have had no serious breakdowns – which is good news for us because the machines really are the backbone of our operations.” Even when put to the test in the arctic conditions that the mountainous region of Xinjiang throws at them, the fleet continues to perform day in, day out. And with the latest additions to its fleet – two L180Gs High Lift – things just get better.
“The high-lift wheel loaders have unparalleled value in terms of fuel efficiency and productivity,” says Habin. The new G-Series wheel loaders feature a powerful Tier 4i/Stage IIIB engine that offers high torque performance to work more efficiently at low engine speeds and is combined with perfectly-matched electronic fuel injection for optimal power and low fuel consumption. The machines also deliver higher productivity and faster cycle times using Volvo’s patented Torque Parallel (TP) linkage system – which combines Z-bar and parallel linkage to offer high breakout force and stability throughout the entire lifting range. Its 7m3 bucket benefits from a tailored bucket-tipping device that allows discharge at a higher position (4.7m).
To ensure maximum uptime, the region’s Volvo CE dealer, Xinjiang SVO Machinery Engineering Co., has set up service stations at the mine. By being so close to its customer, the dealer offers speedy servicing and repairs – and together they’ve built a strong and lasting relationship. The dealership’s technical director, Kou Heqing, says: “We have a great sense of achievement when we are able to successfully solve a customer’s problem in a timely manner. We are ready to cope with difficult conditions, anytime, anywhere, to get the job done.”
Heishan Mine Company has been working with Volvo CE’s local dealer for over 10 years.
It’s not just power and performance that are important on a site like the Xinjiang Heishan Open-pit Mine – it’s about operator safety and comfort too. Volvo CE’s wheel loaders’ Care Cab features roll-over protection structure (ROPS) and falling object protection (FOPS) for maximum protection inside the cab. The G-Series has even more glass than previous models ensuring all-round visibility. “We consider operator safety to be among the top priorities we evaluate when we buy new machinery,” says Habin.
Inside the cab, the well-positioned ergonomic controls make operating the machine simple – and the climate control system ensures the temperature is always right. Han Gang, an L180G operator at the Heishan mine, comments: “Even in winter, when temperatures are as low as -30°C, you do not have to worry about a cold start. The cab is always comfortable thanks to its air conditioning and heating systems. Even if you take a break and turn the engine off – the inside temperature remains the same.”
Text: Holly Brace
Picture 1 : The Volvo surfs over crushed black coal
Picture 2 : Loading the coal ready for transportation