The correct tipping gear ensures safety and profitability

11th April 2018
Anna Flockett

A lot of commercial vehicles actually haul large amounts of minerals, grains and other bulk materials around the UK each year. The figure for aggregates alone is 60,000,000 tonnes, so the total number of vehicle movements and load discharges is huge. Tipping vehicles remain the most efficient and profitable method for ejecting loads – but only when specified correctly.

Edbro offers engineering support to body builders and end users to ensure that every cylinder is providing the best and safest performance.

Tipping vehicles are a common sight on roads in the UK and around the world. They provide an efficient way of transporting and discharging bulk materials. For the most part, these operations are completed safely; however, a poorly designed or equipped truck can compromise safe operations so operators should be sure that they are buying the right tool for the job.

It is therefore advisable that tipping gear on the vehicle is designed or selected by experts, such as the Edbro team of engineers, and specified with the intended application in mind.

The design of the tipping mechanism used by all tippers consists of a large, long stroke hydraulic cylinder, a power pack to drive it, and the necessary controls. There are many different types of cylinder available – Edbro alone has five different ranges, each available in many lengths, diameters, speeds, powers and with additional optional features.

A good cylinder is robustly built to withstand the rigours of its working life. It will have the power and reach to lift its proposed loads, plus the speed to allow profitability to be maintained. When designing a tipper there are several elements to consider: calculating the power required, considering component positioning on the vehicle and ensuring safe operation.

The performance specification is calculated from the weight of the load and its balance either side of the tipper’s pivot point; height/angle tip required; and speed of actuation expected. With these figures confirmed, appropriate components can be identified from which the best fit for the vehicle can be selected.

Edbro points out that alongside these technical considerations there must be full awareness of operational safety issues. Obviously it is a vital part of the designer’s responsibility to indentify risks and minimise them. Edbro’s engineers have many years experience in designing efficient and safe systems, and work in teams where discussions are encouraged and alternative options always considered.

For instance, selected tipping speed could influence tipping safety when hauling certain materials. Sludge, slurry and other viscous materials may flow unevenly as they tip, resulting in imbalance if the trailer rises too quickly. Edbro will review the intended use and help specify the ideal tipping speed to compromise between efficiency and safety.

Following on from the considerations on safety, designers may be tempted to oversize tipping mechanisms so that they are comfortably able to cope with their load. However, one must remember the primary purpose of business - profit. Most tippers are used for road haulage, where maximum vehicle weight is strictly governed. Where a designer chooses to over-specify, they will compromise the kerb weight of the vehicle and reduce its payload and profitability per tip.

For Edbro, both safety and profitability are primary concerns, and the company works beyond other manufacturers’ safety standards. All cylinders are designed and specified with a 50% safety factor to ensure ‘belt and braces’ security, yet through attention to detail, application experience and careful design they remain industry leaders in terms of kerb weight and load carrying capacity.

An important caveat to the point about over specification is that in off-road applications - say in quarries, construction sites and scrap yards - different rules apply and heavier loads that wouldn’t be legal on UK roads may be commonplace. Here designers are likely to allow for over-specification to meet the unusual load requirements.

Edbro takes tipper safety and profitability seriously and to this end fully trains all relevant personnel, including the sales team. Edbro sales engineers understand how to pick the correct cylinder, but they are also backed up by the in-house applications team who check and double check every gear choice. They use specialist software to run tipper analyses that calculates buckling loads, safety factors, optimum operating speeds etc.

Usefully Edbro has a cylinder selection wizard on the technical area of its website (which can be accessed by all registered users) that aids in picking the best ram depending on the body dimensions, required tip angle, payload, etc.

Despite the heavy loads and extreme forces associated with the haulage industry, profitability is a matter of marginal gains and safety considerations can be measured in degrees. Identifying and fitting the best tipping cylinder for each job will facilitate profitable operations and improve safety for all concerned.

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