Getting maximum production from your loading operation requires loader and truck operators to work collaboratively. Spotting the truck relative to the loader is critical to increasing productivity and reducing cycle times.
Keep correct truck & loader position
Ideally, the truck should be horizontal to the digging position of the loader and set back at a distance that allows the loader operator to hoist and dump at the same time.
Keeping the distance between the loader and the truck as short as possible boosts productivity. The shorter the distance the loader travels to the truck, the faster the operator can return to the pile for the next load. As the pile reduces, the position of the haul truck must be adjusted to maintain optimal cycle times.
Trucks can also be backed into the pile. In this case, the truck should be backed in as close to the pile as possible. The farther that truck is away from the pile and the loader, the farther the loader has to travel to load the truck, costing additional time and, ultimately, production.
Caterpillar estimates a basic cycle time (load, dump, maneuver) of .45 to .55 minutes.
Match loaders to the application
When sizing a loader to a truck, look at two critical measures – dump height and bucket size.
To calculate bucket size, divide the volume required per cycle by the bucket fill factor.
A high fill factor naturally means more material can be moved per cycle. Bucket shape, the material to be moved and the rollback angle of the bucket all affect the bucket fill. Deeper buckets on machines that have a higher rollback at carry height will move more material.
The bucket size required and the material density are the primary considerations that point to the correct size loader. Always select a wheel loader with a greater capacity than what you calculated. If you end up running with excessive counterweights or above capacity, you will reduce component life and negatively impact stability, which could increase cycle times.
Clean the loading area
It is important to keep the load floor in front of the pile clear. A clean load floor increases tire life by reducing cuts. Second, a clean load floor allows consistent cycle times to be maintained more easily.
Cleanliness equals speed. Operators can maintain a higher speed because they are not jostling around in the cab from uneven terrain. A smooth floor also helps retain material in the bucket rather than on the loading floor.
Ideally, the wheel loader is in constant motion. When it’s not loading, it’s prepping the load area and preparing for the next truck. Operators and drivers should work out a communication system for positioning.
Train operators on features
Keeping operators up to date on the features of machines can increase productivity. For example, consider return to dig and return to carry functions. Proper training on the use of these features can assist the operator, reduce fatigue and have a positive effect on cycle times. There are operators who claim they do not like these features, when in reality they may not have been trained to use them effectively.
Ask your crew for even more easy ways to shave seconds off your cycle times or increase production.
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