May 2012

Wyoming Manufacturer Builds World’s Largest Coal Hauler

By Jeremy Fugleberg

Reprinted with permission from the Casper Star-Tribune

By any measure, it’s a big, big truck.

The truck can haul 447 tons of coal. That’s enough coal to fill more than 4 1/2 railroad cars. That’s enough coal to fill an average-sized house from floor to ceiling. That’s enough coal to fuel a power plant for an entire day.

And now, Guinness World Records recognizes the three-story truck’s ability to haul that much coal.

While the huge haul truck is a standard but still large design, its custom-built body—the tippable back portion of the truck that carries the coal—is what got Guinness’ attention.
The London-based authority on global records recently awarded the body’s manufacturer, Mills-based Westech, a certificate for its custom-built unit designed for a Wyoming mine.
Rick Reynolds, Westech’s chief engineer, said it wasn’t until late in the design process that it occurred to him that the big truck body might be a world record.
“When I did the initial layout, I thought, ‘Holy cow, I don’t think there’s any one that is bigger than this,’” Reynolds said.

Westech’s engineers began design of the haul body in December, after a request from Peabody Energy for a customized vehicle for its North Antelope Rochelle Mine north of Douglas.

The body would be paired with an ultra-class Liebherr T282C truck— already a monster vehicle with six 12-foot-high wheels.

“They wanted to haul a lot of coal very quickly,” Reynolds said.

Westech contacted Guinness World Records in London and submitted its request to be considered for world record standing. After a lot of paperwork and impartial judging on a scale at the North Antelope Rochelle Mine on June 14, Guinness agreed that the haul body could carry the world’s biggest load of coal.

The truck’s large capacity holds some big advantages for Peabody. Fewer large-capacity trucks can haul the same amount of coal, and fewer trucks mean fewer numbers of wheels to fix and drivers to hire.

The amount of coal the truck body can dump is so large, Westech engineered a patent-pending design known as the “Flow Control Body.” The process controls the flow of coal using ripples engineered into the floor of the body.

That means the coal carried by the trucks won’t dump at once, an overwhelmingly large load that could be difficult for mine equipment to handle and could needlessly spew coal dust into the air.

“This load is so big, you don’t want all that load coming out at once,” Reynolds said.
It was a landmark job for Westech, an Austin Engineering Ltd. company, which builds more than 500 bodies a year for customers in Wyoming and around the world. Westech is the world’s largest manufacturer of such heavy metal, according to sales manager Rich Peters.
The company has more orders for haul bodies of that size from Peabody; they’re set to be manufactured next year. Westech frequently designs and builds custom equipment for mines around the world.

While the world record gives the company some bragging rights, it also is a good marketing tool. Westech is in discussion to display the body on a new Liebherr truck at a big mining expo in Las Vegas in 2012 as a way of showing off its work.

“This is a bit of a marketing piece, but on the other hand it just continues to show the capabilities of this company, both on the manufacturing side and the engineering side,” Peters said.

Local 27 Shopmen Make News with Custom Built and Designed Flow Control Body
Ironworkers from Local 27 (Salt Lake City), working for Westech, build custom built designed Flow Control Body, which can haul enough coal to fuel a power plant for an entire day. Westech has been a union contractor, signed with Local 27, since 1975, employing 35 ironworkers.