Hard-Line may have had surface operations in mind when it came up with its teleremote LP301 and LP401 low-profile (skid steer) loaders, but the ability to access restricted areas where a person-operated machine cannot manoeuvre would also prove beneficial in narrow vein and low-profile mines.
IM caught up with Chad Rhude, Vice President US Operations at Hard-Line, to quiz him on these low-profile – as low as 760 mm and 1,016 mm tall, respectively – machines.
IM: When it comes to the mining industry, where does Hard-Line believe the use of teleremote-operated LP401/LP301 loaders will provide the most value?
CR: They can provide value in applications where it is either too dangerous, not cost-effective, or impossible to use larger manned machines. For example, they could be an effective solution for cleaning spillage from under conveyor belts, or other equipment that currently requires manual labour or an operator in a machine like a skid steer.
The LP series of machines will allow the same job to be performed from a safe distance by removing the operator from the cab of the machine and, because there is no need for an operator’s cabin, allowing the machine to access areas traditional manned machines are unable to fit into. This can offer value in that the work can be done without shutting down the conveyor and should be faster in situations where work might currently be done manually. The machines could also provide value as support platforms or could be used to inspect or enter areas that are too dangerous to have personnel enter.
IM: Where, regionally, have you seen demand for these units from a mining perspective?
CR: Most of our focus has been in the municipal and construction markets in the USA to this point, but we have seen interest in North America, Australia, and some enquiries in South America in the mining space.
IM: Do you see these units having applications in underground narrow vein and low-profile mines?
CR: We see these machines having applications anywhere there are height and safety concerns that would restrict the use of larger machines or having personnel work in the area. Narrow vein and low-profile mines would seem to be ideal areas for a machine with a small footprint and remote-control capabilities.
The fact that the machine is remotely controlled allows it to access areas that would be too dangerous or too small for larger manned vehicles, and the ability to have multiple attachments, from various bucket configurations to rock breakers and other devices attached to the front of it, make it a very versatile piece of equipment.
In addition, the fact that these machines have been built on a skid-steer platform allows them to work at higher speeds than many track-only machines of the same size and lifting capacity allowing for faster cycle times when used to move material. An over-the-tyre track kit is also available for the LP401, which allows it to operate in low traction conditions.
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