Mexico and Sweden

How mining trucks become a sustainability pillar

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2022
How mining trucks become a sustainability pillar

Swedish truck manufacturer Scania offers the Heavy Tipper truck to the Mexican mining industry, promising substantial efficiency and sustainability gains, which are expected to increase when an electric version of the truck will become available in 2025 or 2026.

In this interview, Scania México's mining, construction and special applications sales and post-sales manager Edgar Robles tells BNamericas how the machines help reduce costs, and he talks about the company’s growth targets, among others.

BNamericas: How long has Scania been in Mexico and what products do you offer the country’s mining sector?

Robles: Scania has been close to 30 years in Mexico. We specialize in passenger transport solutions, cargo transport, and power generation through the sale of engines for this type of industry, industrial or maritime engines.

In the mining sector, we have a specialized product that is our Scania Heavy Tipper, which is a truck that offers … 40t of payload. It transports minerals and earth in mining operations, both open pit and underground mines. Within these solutions, we offer a service tailored to each operation. That is, according to the needs of the mine, we design a service solution to provide not only the highest mechanical availability but also lower operational cost.

BNamericas: Which products are in highest demand in the mining sector?

Robles: In addition to Heavy Tipper trucks, we have personnel transport solutions, as well as power generation solutions and complementary vehicles that could be in the mine. 

Services that can support the operation involve cranes, mixer trucks, gondola trucks. We can offer solutions in transportation ... and in energy generation related to all machines that can be used in the different parts of operations and production of a mine.

We market motors that can be used for power generation and specialized machines such as crushers and anything that works with power. These are Scania engines designed and manufactured by us.

BNamericas: What kind of added value do you offer the mining industry? What’s the differentiator?

Robles: One of the main benefits is that the truck adapts to the mine. We make a suit tailored to the operation; the mine does not have to adapt to the truck. It’s one philosophy we follow, because in the end, by offering a personalized vehicle, we can obtain the best benefits and returns from the operation.

With the Heavy Tipper, we provide added value in different phases. First is the lowest cost per ton in the market through fuel consumption that averages 10l/h. Compared to the competition, we can reduce fuel costs per hour worked by up to 66%. That’s the main differentiator. More hours, more savings.

There is a significant reduction in maintenance costs, since our vehicles, being modular systems, being specialized vehicles, have the competitive advantage of being much more efficient in maintenance costs compared to existing machines, these yellow machines which, in addition to high capex also have maintenance costs. Even [costs for] changing tires are quite high compared to [our] truck.

Another competitive advantage is that we can offer 40t of payload. Our empty truck weighs 20t and can carry 40t more. The load ratio is 2:1 compared to existing trucks, where the load ratio is generally 1:2 or 2:3.

Our vehicle is designed to offer the highest productivity, but also energy efficiency and fuel consumption at the lowest maintenance costs.

Connected with the part of productivity, in some cases depending on the installed equipment, we can even increase production consistently at the mine since our vehicles, being much lighter, may also complete cycles much faster than other vehicles.

Respecting safety limits which could be 30km/h, 20km/h, we can precisely adapt it to clientand especially the operation’s needs.

Connected with fuel cost, we know that the path leads toward electrification ... but with this solution, saving 66% of fuel, we are saving 66% of CO2 emitted, and that is the third advantage: We can have much more sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions without the need for a major change in technology.

Finally, we can offer everything to the market with a personalized solution, but above all, a direct representation of the brand. We do not have third-party distributors. Our after-sales are our own and the attention to or contact with our customers is directly with the factory. This is an extremely important advantage, because it allows us to provide a better service, have high availability of spare parts and, above all, personalized attention to our customers.

BNamericas: How do you tailor solutions to specific mines or operations?

Robles: For each operation we make an assessment, we map the entire mine. We see the mine as if it was a production factory with extraction, movement, etc. We see all the factors and components that intervene in production, take time and design an offer, a vehicle specification accompanied by a service offer and, above all, benefits or specific additions to the vehicle that can get the best productivity out of its operation. Our production and product design system is as if it were a Lego, where we have different interchangeable parts, and that allows us to achieve a widely personalized offer of mine vehicles.

We can talk about trucks for underground mines or open pit mines that can range from 16m3 to 20m3. For open pit mines, we even can deliver solutions from 20m3-22m3 to up to 30m3 or 32m3 of volumetry. This is going to be determined a lot by the specific weight of the material to be moved to precisely give the guarantee of the 40t of payload.

We also have the possibility of delivering Euro 5 and Euro 6 trucks and are already working, not in Mexico but elsewhere in the world, with vehicles that work in the open with compressed natural gas technologies or even electric trucks we are testing with some of our customers in northern Sweden and Australia.

BNamericas: How many Mexican mining clients do you have? Who are they?

Robles: We have quarry operations with Cemex and with Apasco – a quarry in Mexico state and the client is a subcontractor. We also have several sub-contractors and operations with COMSA, which is the largest gypsum mine we have in Mexico and one of the main producers globally, on San Marcos island. We are also at the First Majestic operation in Sonora, and we are carrying out different assessments with Autlán and other clients which we accompany to review their operation and try to offer a more tailored but above all disruptive solution regarding costs and productivity.

BNamericas: Which of your mining trucks is mainly used in the region and in Mexico?

Robles: The Scania Heavy Tipper for hauling materials, but we can also make or design vehicles for everything related to the mining environment, which can help reduce costs per ton transported or hour worked.

BNamericas: Why and how do your products help make this industry more sustainable?

Robles: We work on three different fronts. First, part of our sustainability strategy is energy efficiency. All the vehicles we design and deliver have to be properly configured for operation. We do not try to place vehicles in inventory that are not useful for all operations. We do specific work so that the vehicle provides the best energy performance and we can contribute to energy efficiency and reduced emissions.

The second pillar is that we have, in addition to the line of diesel engines, a wide portfolio of Scania gas engines and alternative fuel solutions. In Mexico, for example, SVO is not given, which is a synthetic diesel, but in other parts of the world we can use this vehicle ... to use biodiesel, in case there is access to it. All our natural gas engines are prepared to work with natural gas or even with a combination of biogas ... and we can reduce emissions by up to 80%.

We have a fairly firm path but, above all, we are grounded in electromobility solutions. Every year, we are launching a new electric vehicle solution. In Mexico, we have urban distribution vehicles, due to technology issues ... and battery capacity, while technology is constantly changing. We are projecting that we can have the first (electric) Heavy Tipper truck commercially available in Mexico by 2025 or 2026.

We already have the first prototype, the first pilot with LKAB, which is one of the largest iron ore mines in the north of Sweden, and that truck is dedicated to what the mining operation is. That vehicle delivers close to 30t of payload.

And year after year, not only globally but also in Mexico, we are going to be replicating new technologies and new applications where not only clients but also the ecosystem is its own to be able to migrate to these solutions.

BNamericas: How is new technology changing the segment? What advances regarding electric and autonomous trucks are you seeing, and what major changes do you expect for the next years?

Robles: We see three important trends, not only in the mining sector but also in cargo transport. One is connectivity, which has been accelerating, mainly since the pandemic, but we had work done in this regard even before, and we hope that connectivity solutions, implemented in all our vehicles since 2015, come from the factory with hardware that feeds our systems and provides the operational data we use not only to improve the performance of future products but also gain an important input in real time and attend to any service situation remotely.

The electrification part is the future. We see electric trucks and other alternatives such as hydrogen being explored. Although [hydrogen] is not as efficient as electric trucks today, it will also set a pattern for zero-emissions vehicles.

Finally comes the part of autonomous vehicles, not only for safety issues, mainly in mine environments with complex operating conditions. This will set the tone so that vehicles, once conditions are available, can be autonomous.

Autonomous vehicles are already rolling [in some areas]. We have a project with Río Tinto in Australia in the operational phase, where we are testing the technology and developing the ecosystem of the vehicles that are going to be owned. We see that at a general level. It will change according to client needs and the ecosystem and regulations that help us make this happen.

BNamericas: What are your growth plans in Mexico?

Robles: We have a plan under which Scania México will be among the [leaders] for cargo. It already is in the bus sector, and we have the mission of being a top 10 player globally. In the mining sector, we have growth plans to continue collaborating with our business partners so they gain access to this type of technology and reduce operating costs.

We have a dedicated team for the mining sector and we want to [provide] advice and assessments tailored to operations, to provide the solutions that can help reduce costs per ton.

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