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DT HiLoad

Driving innovation and cost effective project impact

DT HiLoad Australia delivers major benefits for fleet haulage economics

AuBJ last left DT HiLoad Australia (“DT HiLoad”) with a bursting order book, big plans for further consolidating sales of its praised Hercules truck-mounted bodies, and on the lookout for the right technology provider and product in search of new products to manufacture and sell. That was October, 2010, and Richard Lang, DT HiLoad’s chief executive, says that some eight months on, the Perth-headquartered haulage expert’s order book is fuller than ever.

“We’ve had some results of a survey that show our body is considered to out-last and have less maintenance than some others and we’re very pleased about that,” he says.

“Our customer base has expanded with repeat orders from existing customers and also we’ve had some further orders from other parts of the market, namely contractors and miners who are new customers as well.”

When asked about the company’s increasing product popularity, particularly in tricky-to-manage hard rock mining, Lang says that in a word, it’s all about innovation driven by productivity.

“A lot of the mines that were previously negative about innovation and change are now prepared to consider a lightweight heavy duty body, like ours, a high performance body. Quite a few players in the market who previously weren’t interested by taking the leap to innovation and getting the extra payload are now doing so,” he explains.

“The reality is that you don’t need that many extra tonnes on each load in order to get an acceptable payback on your investment. Often you could throw a brand new tray away and put our tray on and still get an acceptable return.”

In outlining the basic value-adding opportunities presented by DT HiLoad products, it becomes clear quite how crucial this turn towards open innovation could prove to be in the wider mining cost context. Luckily, this company is at hand to ensure that the haulage portion is well-catered to.

Product and services adding value

In his article, “Increasing Mine Productivity with an Appropriate Mine Truck Body” (October 2010 ©Lang, Richard), Lang identifies why it is important for any mining or mining-related enterprise, throughout its ranks; whatever its management structure, to understand the massive cost-saving implications and traps in operational challenges dealt with by selecting the right truck body, with DT HiLoad’s Hercules product as a prime example. He identifies a typical open cut mining cost breakdown with haulage making up 32 per cent of the picture.

“We’re finding that it is lasting well, as expected, even in difficult circumstances like hard rock whereas in the coal area maintenance is very minimal,” Lang says of the Hercules, which is now in its ninth design incarnation.

“People select different options depending on their requirements and the particular mine, but the basic design is constant. We have some other products we are working on but they’re not for release yet.”

The company has seen Hercules products reaching the 25,000 to 30,000 hour benchmark in hard rock, then lasting well beyond it, which continues to entice previously sceptical groups to investing. The manufacturing plant established in Perth a little over a year ago, still has some capacity surplus to current demand, making DT HiLoad’s growing order book manageable. The company has continued to work with the recently purchased major manufacturing equipment, and as it does so, demand from existing clients is also strong.

“We’ve just delivered some bodies to Ausdrill Mining Services to operate in Africa and some more bodies are scheduled to go to them between now and Christmas,” Lang says of the company’s longstanding client.

“We’ve made a number of sales into Africa since we last spoke.”

While remaining very private and conservative about the names inside the order book and products under development, Lang says that the company’s service arm has also been busy, largely in doing installations in remote places.

“We have done some upgrades for customers of older body designs to the current design too, and we’re expecting that in the new year those trends will continue with the Service Department growing significantly,” he says.

“We currently have containers with equipment in key places like Africa, Western Australia, Queensland and NSW in order to support our product. We’ve also appointed Two Jays Engineering, in the Hunter Valley town called Branxton, a central coal region, as an Authorised Service Centre to support our product there.”

As the company’s Australian footprint and global product application continues to emerge, so do its admirers.

This has been directly reflected by the take-up of products by new clients, while existing clients continue to receive the same excellent standards of quality product, services and cost-effective options the group has become known for.

Inciting innovation

With all systems go at the Perth plant, sales soaring and recognition of product value propositions increasing in line with company expectations, Lang says that DT HiLoad’s objectives remain geared towards those customers it knows best.

“We will continue looking after our customers that we have, and through that we will increase our business because those customers buy more and they refer other people to us,” he says succinctly.

“We wish to expand our service work and also to develop other products to add to our range, building on the skills and customer base we already have.”

An additional focus is attributed to internal and external innovation, as Lang describes how individuals within a business, and the expectations of their clients, can be managed and bettered by approaching new technology and customer requirements effectively.

“Senior commercial people, I believe, should be taking interest in innovation, in the haulage area in particular because there are significant returns to be made on investment. Even a small number of tonnes on each load make an amazing difference to the payback period, and there are two different circumstances senior managers could find themselves in,” he explains.

“One is where they have an innovative person at the superintendent level of the haulage fleet. In that case, all they need to do is support that person. If they don’t have that and innovation is coming from the more senior level, they need to help those people through the speed bumps of conservatism.”

In a nutshell, the sort of advantage achievable is depicted in the table below and the results are well worth the effort. Can you imagine the financial implications if you carried 20 tonnes more on every truck?

DT HiLoad embraces the role of senior employees in driving innovation, and Lang stresses the real need to these people to understand what drives fleet haulage economics—or at least to understand enough of the basics to support innovative individuals alongside them. The company’s products are selling well: fact. Client services continue to deliver and the division is tipped to expand. Whether DT HiLoad has inspired others to open up to innovation or been part of a wider change in philosophy, the company’s promises to ever-improve on productivity, cost effective options and client commitments are being realised with every move.