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European bulldozers make a bid for Australian mines

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Polish machinery manufacturer Dressta has been an established player in the small to mid-range bulldozer market for some years in Australia, but now their sights are being set on the Australian mining industry.

With Australian bulldozer market dominance firmly in the grip of Cat and Komatsu, breaking in with a European brand will no easy task, but Dressta are looking to expand their services thanks to investment from a joint venture partnership with Chinese giant LiuGong Machinery, which now wholly owns the Polish company.

Despite the underrepresentation of the brand in Australian mining, Dressta claim unmatched performance in mining applications in many countries around the world, including coal mines in Poland, copper/gold projects in Uzbekistan, and nickel mines in the Philippines.

Global vice president of sales Howard Dale was pleased to showcase the LiuGong Dressta range at an open day at the company’s testing facility in Stawola Wola, Poland, near the Dressta manufacturing plant.

There the media were invited to get up close and personal with the machinery, and even to drive the new equipment for themselves to get a feel for the cabin comfort and ease of operation of their flagship dozers.

“Our products features high productivity, proven reliability, they’re easy to maintain on site, and we offer our customers a flexible manufacturing arrangement which allows us to tailor products to their specific needs,” Dale said.

“Our manufacturing, administration and engineering processes are all accredited to ISO9001, and here in Poland we’ve won many local awards for our design, engineering and for the quality of products we produce here.”

Dale also said Dressta has recently won the Polish Overseas Foreign Investment Award for the contribution made to the Polish economy by LiuGong’s ownership of Dressta.

In the past 12 months Dressta have also set up partnerships with Australian dealers and service providers Onetrak (Perth, Melbourne)and Terraquip (Rockhampton), which will allow greater sales and service to customers around Australia.

“We’re very excited to have Onetrak as a new dealer, who came on board in quarter three last year, and their first products have just arrived, and we’re working with the dealer to enable them in terms of their market readiness to serve new customers,” Dale said.

On the subject of marketing in Australia, Dale said the Dressta range had several features which would be attractive in the mining market.

“Our number one USP is our two-speed track system in the TD-40, for ease of maneuverability, but the second is that we have the best return on investment as it relates to owning and operating costs, and we move product for the lowest unit cost,” he said.

“Also our drivetrains are modular, which makes maintenance very easy on site.

“One of the key features we want to retain as we continue our development of these machines is their ease of maintenance.”

Turnaround for track overhaul of the large TD-40 in the field was quoted at inside of one day.

The Dressta range includes 42 models across five product lines: Bulldozers, loaders, backhoes, pipe layers and conveyor belt shifters.

Dressta’s bulldozers have a unique two-speed steering drive which allows for continuous transfer of engine power to both tracks, giving better performance for pushing full loads through the turns.

They also lay claim to “best in class” drawbar pull, as well as unmatched ripping performance with superb penetration in hard materials.

For specialist coal handling work Dressta offer blades for high productivity and optimal load handling capacities, with custom blades of 21m3 up to 47.5m3 in the TD-25E and TD-40E, the two largest models in the Dressta fleet.

These machines also boast comfortable cabins with excellent noise and dust resistance to ensure greater ease for operators working long shifts.

For industrial steelmaking applications Dressta bulldozers also come with a high-temperature pack used for working with hot slag, which can also be applied to emergency work with coal mine fires to ensure maximum reliability under the most severe heat conditions.

These machines are fitted with heat resistant fuel and oil lines which are also protected by fire suppression systems which can put out any smouldering, as well as extensive guarding and high grade steel used for the blade and rippers, with capacity to work in contact temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius.

Dressta machines also come fitted with Trimble navigation systems designed to increase productivity.

Director of after sales service and training Jason Izzard said it was Dressta’s goal to have all machines leaving the factory fitted with Trimble systems within two years, making the machines much easier to use, as well as enable real time monitoring.

“The machines have to be fitted with systems so that you or I could jump onto the machine and begin to use it like an experienced operator,” Izzard said.

“Trimble gives the operator a screen which allows him to see what he’s moving, what he should be moving, what he’s actually moved, and it records production.

“It can send these details back to an office in Sydney or Perth, and then you know how much material a D11 working in the Northern Territory has pushed in the last hour, last day, week or month.”

Izzard said it was key to modern operations in mining and construction to utilize real time information with regard to machine performance.

“Basically it helps to forecast when the job is going to be finished, assist with scheduling, and you can work out where to put more machinery; it’s an excellent system, and we’ve recognised that need,” he said.

“We’ve chosen to partner with Trimble because they’re very active, they came to us, and you’ve just got to have it, especially if you’re putting machines into a hire fleet.”

Dale said there were two levels of Trimble readiness, the first being machines built with adjustments for harnesses in the system so that Trimble can be fitted as an after-market, plug-and-play scenario, but the preferred level will be machines with factory-fitted Trimble systems, ready for online operation at sale.

“In terms of the mining markets the application of telematics comes into its own for measuring machine availability, understanding service schedules, and as it relates to operations it’s going to be about calculating cubic metres of material loaded into trucks, the amount of product being hauled, so this will improve the efficiency of minesites through the sharing of data.”

However Izzard also pointed out that Dressta is well experienced with custom tailoring machines to customer needs, and that if not needed the Trimble systems can be left out of the equation.

But the immediate focus for the future of Dressta lies in the small to medium class bulldozers, currently aimed at the North American and Canadian markets.

Awaiting launch in third quarter 2015, the newest Dressta machines are small-range models (including the TD-9R) featuring the Hydrostatic Drive, which offers a vastly increased level of maneuverability.

The technology has also been developed for mid-range bulldozers such as the TD-14 and TD-20, which are suited to smaller mines, construction projects, and specific jobs on large mining operations.

Izzard said the hydrostatic system started for Dressta during their joint venture with Komatsu between 1992 and 2005, and was extremely popular in the TD-8, TD-9 and TD-10 machines in North America, however further investment was required to take development to the next level, which was facilitated through the purchase of Dressta by LiuGong.

The key to the hydrostatic system is that it improves on standard bulldozer steering (where one track is braked to turn in that direction) by incorporating hydraulic pumps which feed directly to the power train for each track, as Izzard explains.

“Hydrostatic system involves having a hydraulic pump attached to the back of the engine, there’s no gearbox, it’s a variable displacement hydraulic pump, and on the tracks you have two motors,” he said.

“So there’s a lot of variation. The motor on the back of the engine, you can choose how much oil it delivers to each side, and depending where you have the motor set on each track, the amount of oil you feed into it will give it speed, and you can vary the speed by the motor.

“So you can have an infinite variable on each track, rather than simply on and off. On the smaller machines used for landscaping and civils, operators want to be able to get the machine to push effectively at any variable.

“The hydrostatic system allows infinite control via the tracks jut by moving the lever fractionally.

“To go faster they alter the speed from the pump, and for more power the pump will feed the maximum amount of oil to the slowest motor speed which gives you the maximum amount of push.

“If you’ve got a light load, you use the fastest motor speed with the lightest pump action because it saves fuel.”

Therein lies the benefits of the system, giving the operator so much more control in terms of maneuverability, with all settings computer controlled to respond from hand controls, transliating to massive fuel savings, ease of operation, excellent performance, which in turn leads to increased productivity.

Dressta have also implemented a medium scale hydrostatic system for the TD-14, TD-15 and TD-20 called Diff-Steer, based on earlier developments by Cat in the 1980s.

“It’s going to allow the operator a similar sort of manoeverability as the TD-9R in larger machines,” Izzard said.

“That’s the future, that’s where we’re going to be. It’s what we’ll be talking about this time next year,” he said.

“These machines will be aimed at smaller scale mines, but they will be the sort of machine you put with your dragline, for moving the cable, or to be used for cleaning up around washplants; there’s always marketable applications for the mid-range machines.”

Australian Mining

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