Tire-handling equipment keeps production rolling
Dedicated tire service equipment helps mines maximize uptime and safety
Tire management is critical to the vitality and productivity of mining operations around the world. One key component of effective tire management is efficient and safe tire handling. Equipment uptime, production capacity and profitability cannot be maximized without timely and safe handling of the massive tires that keep the industry moving.
The connection between efficient tire handling, production and safety makes tire-handling equipment valuable support gear for any mining operation. Therefore, it is important to understand the features and benefits of different tire-handling equipment, what to look for during the selection process and safety requirements for operators.
Features and benefits
Mining companies and tire service contractors use a variety of lifting equipment to handle tires, but carrier-mounted tire manipulators and specialized tire service vehicles offer the best control and maneuverability in rugged mining environments.
Tire manipulators are mounted to carrier vehicles and are available with a range of capacities. For example, TireHand® tire manipulators from Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. (IMT) can be adapted to either a forklift truck or front-end loader that has sufficient capacity and stability. If the TireHand is mounted to a loader, available quick couplers enable disconnection of the TireHand so that the original bucket can be quickly coupled to the machine for normal operations.
Specialized tire service vehicles, such as the Commander® series of crane-mounted tire manipulator combination units from IMT, are basically mobile tire shops that go wherever tires need service in the field. These units typically incorporate a crane, a hydraulic tire-handling attachment, a hydraulic air compressor and storage for tools and parts in a single package.
Whether carrier- or crane-mounted, tire manipulators enable operators to efficiently and safely remove, transport, replace and stack tires in rugged mining environments. This equipment can help minimize the expensive downtime of haul trucks, wheel loaders, wheel dozers and other mining machines.
Besides contributing to the efficiency of mining operations, tire-handling equipment also promotes safety.
Some tire manipulators are equipped with hydraulically activated fallback protection. Fallback arms prevent tire movement toward the working area between the tire and back of the tire manipulator. When deployed, fallback arms are positioned perpendicular to the arm assembly to prevent the tire from falling into the work area. A hydraulically activated system allows operators to position the fallback arms from the control station in the cab, making the work more efficient, improving overall productivity and increasing safety.
Crane-mounted tire manipulator combination units allow service technicians to work at a safe distance during tire service operations. With the help of the tire service vehicle, technicians can handle large, cumbersome tires more efficiently from a distance, which in turn reduces their risk of being pinned or crushed by a tire or rim assembly. A radio remote-control feature can allow the operator to stand in a safe place with greater visibility while operating the crane-mounted tire manipulator.
In the process of choosing tire-handling equipment, customers should first identify specific application needs such as how the equipment will be used and the range of capacities it will need to handle.
Applications that call for tire service equipment to travel between mine sites will likely require a specialized tire service vehicle. If the equipment will be used to change tires in the pit, the choice is between a tire service vehicle and loader-mounted tire manipulator based on mobility and capacity needs. For regular tire changing and maintenance on a concrete tire pad, a forklift-mounted tire manipulator might be the best option.
Customers should ensure that their tire-handling equipment is adequately sized — big enough to do the job, but not so large that it adds unnecessary cost or causes tire damage.
In addition to capacity, other features to consider when selecting a tire manipulator include:
- Visibility. Forklift operators should have good visibility through the mast. Some manufacturers offer a video monitoring system for increased visibility.
- Fallback protection. Fallback arms that are hydraulically controlled are easier to use and operate than mechanical arms while providing an additional layer of operator safety.
- Pad design. The tire manipulator’s grip pattern and tapering should enable operators to maintain their grip on the tire without damage and handle rim flange hardware with ease.
- Arm length. Models with longer arms are capable of reaching the back flange on wheels.
- Arm profile. Narrower arms minimize interference with chassis components during tire-handling operations.
- Pad rotation. Continuous pad rotation gives operators the ability to manage the rotation of tires 360 degrees.
- Body rotation. Body rotation should meet tire-handling needs while moving the center of gravity closer to the machine, minimizing the size of the carrier vehicle.
- Options. Some manufacturers offer such choices as proportional remote controls, lateral shifting capabilities and quick coupler attachments.
When evaluating different manufacturers of tire-handling equipment, customers should assess the strength of the respective distributor networks. By choosing a manufacturer with an extensive and well-trained distributor network, customers can count on expert assessment of their needs up front and responsive, knowledgeable service after the sale.
Mining operations around the world generally have the same needs of handling massive tires in an efficient and safe manner. With the help of the right tire-handling equipment such as tire manipulators and dedicated tire service vehicles, mining operations can maximize production capacity, uptime, profitability and safety.