Getting creative, and productive, with articulated haulers

  • 18-Jan-2012 09:19 EST
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The rotating hitch of Volvo's F-Series haulers enables the tractor unit to oscillate independently of the load unit, eliminating frame twist, allowing the wheels to maneuver over obstacles while maintaining ground contact at all times.

Volvo Construction Equipment has been in the articulated hauler business since it popularized the concept in the 1960s, plenty of time for the company to realize that such machines have a far wider application than just earthmoving. And with the launch of Volvo CE’s Hauler Chassis, the company says it is making it easier for “customers and expert body builders to adapt standard haulers into special purpose vehicles.”

Hauler Chassis is a modular concept that allows customers to order a standard articulated hauler without a load body or hoist cylinders. Possibilities are numerous, but Volvo expects popular superstructure options for its new F-Series to include timber hauler, water tank, hook lift, ejector body, or fifth wheel for pulling a wide range of trailers. A bolt-on frame extension is also available for the A25F- and A30F-based machines, for added flexibility. Offered in two lengths, 1.2 and 1.7 m, the extension allows for the support of longer or larger volumes.

Besides the above mentioned selection of optional equipment, also available are hydraulic interfaces to suit a range of superstructures. Along with the standard machine hydraulics, an auxiliary open or closed center system is fitted that allows for superstructures connection without further modifications, enabling reduced build time.

Volvo provides technical support for mounting superstructures, as well as Body Builder Instructions (BBI), which have been developed by Volvo engineers. The BBI is a web-based tool that provides drawings, specifications, and other technical information to help integrate the new superstructure and ensure that the finished machine performs safely, effectively, and fuel efficiently. The system also describes the installation process in detail, highlights various superstructure possibilities, and emphasizes the simplicity with which Volvo haulers can be adapted.

The F-Series ranges load capacity from the 28-t (31-ton) A25F up to the 44.6-t (49-ton) A40F. Central to the articulated hauler concept is the articulated steering system, which contributes to short turning circles for use in confined loading areas and on tightly turning haul roads. The self-compensating hydro-mechanical system also gives operators improved control of the machine through both its high steering force in tough off-highway conditions (e.g., deep mud) and also its accurate, safe operation at high speeds.

Volvo-designed engines match the Volvo drivetrain to enable best use of power and torque in tough working conditions. The new F-Series is also about 4% more fuel efficient than the E-Series machines.

The drivetrain features as standard an Automatic Traction Control (ATC) system, which automatically engages/disengages the six-wheel drive. The system detects any slippage and applies the appropriate drive mode for optimum traction. Operating the machine in four-wheel drive mode in good conditions reduces fuel consumption and tire and mechanical wear.

F-Series haulers are fitted with dog clutch differential locks in all three axles, which helps maximize grip in difficult conditions. When applied, they ensure all wheels rotate at the same speed, maximizing traction in severe operating conditions. The differential locks are engaged by pressing a convenient floor-mounted button, also while the machine is moving, for greater ease of use and productivity.

A three-point bogie design allows the rear wheels to move independently, ensuring good ground contact, traction, and stability while minimizing strain on the frame. The high positioned rotating hitch is maintenance-free and features permanently greased tapered roller bearings.

A25F and A30F models feature what Volvo describes as a soft, progressive gas-hydraulic front suspension, which leads to increased hauling speeds while minimizing vibrations to the operator, reducing fatigue and enhancing productivity. The Full Suspension version of the A35F and A40F is fitted with a fully hydraulic front and rear suspension. This, together with an automatic leveling system and stabilizer, maximizes hauling speeds of both loaded and unloaded machines.

The A25F and A30F are fitted with fully hydraulic brakes and dry discs on all wheels, while the bigger A35F and A40F are fitted with oil-cooled wet discs. Both the A25F and A30F feature a hydraulic retarder and Volvo Engine Brake (VEB)–the latter consisting of a compression brake and exhaust retarder. The A35F and A40F also feature VEB, but, instead of a hydraulic retarder, use the wheel brakes. The retarder function helps to control speed when traveling downhill, reducing the need of service brake use and minimizing their wear. There is also an optional Trailer Brake Valve that enables the adaptation from the chassis hydraulic system to the trailer air brake system.

As with all Volvo CE equipment, F-Series machines are fitted with a ROPS/FOPS protected cab. Good all-round visibility is assisted by a centrally positioned operator station, sloping hood, large rear-view mirrors, a wide front windshield, and a full-length glass door. The operator is aided by a spacious, low-noise, climate-controlled interior, and easily accessible controls, says Volvo. Those features are coupled with easy-to-read controls, allowing the operator more time to concentrate on what is going on outside the cab, improving safety.

Maintenance is assisted by a swing-down front grille with integrated steps, which acts as a service platform. Additionally, the hood tips 90°, giving easy access to the engine compartment. All grease points and remote mounted drains are accessible from ground level or nonslip platforms. Also, there is no daily or weekly greasing needed.

The new F-Series is fitted as standard with CareTrack, Volvo’s telematics system that enables remote monitoring of a wide range of machine functions (e.g., fuel consumption, service reminders, etc.) and optimizing customer operations. These machines are also supported by a global network of Volvo dealers, where trained technicians use Volvo’s diagnostic tools and techniques.

Volvo stresses that Hauler Chassis-based machines retain all the advantages of its articulated haulers. And, in most cases, the base machines can be rebuilt back into a standard articulated hauler, increasing machine resale value considerably.

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