Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Photo credit: iStock.com/Leit_Wolf

I often chuckle, the BelAZ is Australia's most photographed truck that you've never seen (and are never likely to see) on an Australian mine site.

Often placed in news articles and on vendor websites, the photos of these trucks are readily available and cheap to buy for use in media. Instantly recognisable in their bright yellow, white and Royal Blue, these trucks are stunningly ugly and are as unattractive, as Caterpillar is sexy.

A product of Zhodzina, Belarus, their 'industrial' design is typical of many machines that come from the old Eastern Bloc countries. Robust, relatively reliable and cost competitive, they are popular in many countries with solutions ranging in size from 30 mt through to their 450 mt behemoth the 75710. Since opening in 1948, they have produced over 120,000 vehicles for use in the Soviet Union.

Introduced to the world in September 2013, the world's largest, highest payload capacity haul truck is the BelAZ 75710.

Big and bulky, it has a conventional two-axle setup but twice as many wheels (four to each axle) as standard trucks, allowing it to carry a whopping 450 metric tonnes (mt). To enable it to carry such a load, it has four-wheel drive, four-wheel hydraulic steering and (given its sheer size) a wide turning circle of about 20 metres.

Over 20 metres long and nine metres tall, it weighs in at 360 mt, the equivalent of more than 200 cars. Powered by two MTU 16V4000 engines, it pumps out 4,600 hp to its Siemens AC drive system and can go up to 64kph. Unlike the array of tray options available to most ultra-class haulers, this truck has a relatively shallow bed limiting the volume of material that can be carried and applications it can be applied.

As ugly as it is, the Belarusians must be congratulated for their innovation and determination to go BIG. Manufactured to ISO9000 standards this truck is in effect a manufacturing marvel that operates in some of the world's harshest and most desolate operating conditions.

Weird and wonderful, it requires further inspection, if only to gawk at https://youtu.be/638zMKTb4WI

This article was originally published by the Components Only team in the April 2019 issue of "@ The Coal Face" magazine.

Published 15 April, 2019
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