Articulated Dump Trucks Provide the Perfect Partner for Moving Materials

Caterpillar articulated dump truck

Some things just go together. Like spaghetti and meatballs, chocolate and peanut butter, an excavator and articulated dump truck (ADT). Now the last combo may not sound as delicious, but it’s certainly a necessity on jobsites. The excavator digs the holes, scoops the dirt and the mighty ADT hauls it away. It’s just that simple, but nonetheless important.

“The articulated hauler is ideal for utility construction and site prep work because of its ability to maneuver over rough terrain that would be otherwise inaccessible by an on-road truck,” says Eric Fatyol, GPE product manager at Volvo Construction Equipment. “This means potentially less site work and access road preparation is necessary when working on large site prep jobs or remote utility installation projects.”

ADTs have been around since Volvo created the articulated hauler category in 1966 with the creation of the 10-ton Volvo DR 631 known as “Gravel Charlie.” Today, manufacturers such as Caterpillar, John Deere, Komatsu, Doosan and, of course, Volvo offer a variety of ADTs. Thanks to their ability to maneuver through tough conditions and haul heavy materials, these machines have secured a spot on the jobsite.

“The articulated truck’s ability to keep all six wheels touching the ground comes from the oscillating and articulating hitch,” says Scott Thomas, product application specialist for articulated trucks at Caterpillar. “This gives the truck much better traction in soft underfoot conditions, which is what they encounter on most sites. Six-wheel drive, low center of gravity, great visibility, tremendous power and torque and easy-to-operate features make this a great choice for contractors when they need to move material.”

What’s Out There?

ADTs have come a long way since they first hit the scene more than 50 years ago. While their main purpose is the same, manufacturers have loaded their lines with features to increase productivity and up the ante on safety.

“When designing a new generation of hauler, manufacturers are really up against several challenges — first, how to increase performance and payload while also improving fuel-efficiency; and secondly, how to add new technological and safety features while maintaining ease of use,” says Fatyol.

So, what’s available in the ADT market today? Let’s take a look…

Caterpillar first came into the articulated truck business in 1986 when the company purchased design rights from DJB. Caterpillar later acquired the business in 1996. Today, the manufacturer offers six models — the 725C2, 730C2, 730C2 EJ, 735C, 740C EJ and 745C — ranging from 26 to 45 tons.

“At Caterpillar, we have automatic traction control and automatic retarding control, both of which reduce operator input to help maintain traction and assist in the downhill descent of a truck,” says Thomas. “Operators can spend more time watching their surroundings and being safe and productive. Visibility has greatly increased in recent years and with a center mount cab the operator has clear vision to all sides from the seat.”

Other features within the Cat product line include added payload and a light system on the outside of the cab which alerts the loading tool operator when the truck is full. Thomas mentions that this all reports back to Vision Link so a customer can see the daily totals and track productivity.

John Deere E-seriesJohn Deere currently has five models in its E Series lineup which is exclusively manufactured in Davenport, Iowa. The line was first introduced in 2012 and recently rounded out with the release of two small-frame models, the 260E and 310E.

“We’ve invested in updating our two small-frame models because we know our customers have a specific need for the ADTs and the ability to maneuver in tight conditions,” says Maryanne Graves, product marketing manager for articulated dump trucks at John Deere. “Our smaller trucks offer all the same features as our larger-frame machines, so any of our customers can be productive in any five of our machines no matter the size or jobsite.”

Speaking of its customers, John Deere has relied heavily on its customer advocate groups when designing the E Series. Based on that feedback, the company says it has added features that make its ADTs safer and easier to operate, such as auto differential lock, auto dump and roll over protection. Upkeep and productivity is enhanced thanks to ground-level daily service checks and five years of JDLink telematics.

Doosan’s first ADT was introduced in 1970, and today’s lineup consists of two machines — the DA30-5 and DA40-5. Aside from packing its duo of ADTs with safety and efficiency features such as rearview cameras, limited slip differentials and a quick unloading tailgate, the company has looked at ways to get their machines moving on tighter jobsites.

“Machines have adapted to more compact jobsites with improvements such as a sloped hood,” says Aaron Kleingartner, marketing manager at Doosan. “This type of hood allows better visibility when you’re traversing the roadway and need to make a tight turn. It could help an operator see the roadway earlier on.”

Kleingartner also points out the importance of accessories that improve communication (as well as efficiency) between the operator of the truck and the operator of the excavator. These tools may provide either a visual indication or sound when the truck is full and has the green light to leave and unload.

Volvo offers seven articulated hauler models ranging from the 27.5-ton A25G all the way up to the 60-ton A60H. The company has increased the payload capacity of three models — the A25G, A30G and A35G — by 1 ton each, as well as added new fuel-saving features such as Volvo Dynamic Drive, which provides an improved gear shifting strategy that can result in a 3 to 10 percent improvement to fuel efficiency, depending on the model.

“From a safety standpoint, we’ve integrated a number of new technologies aimed at making it easier for the operator to work more safely and make more informed decisions,” says Fatyol. “For instance, on-board weighing now comes standard on our A35G and up (optional on A25G and A30G). The system is fully automatic and alerts both the hauler and excavator (or loader) operator when nominal load has been reached, thereby preventing overloading.”

Volvo points out additional new standard safety features such as a Dump Support System and Hill Assist, which holds the hauler in place when working on uphill slopes of 10 percent or greater, without the need to engage the parking brake.

Pam Kleineke is managing editor of Utility Contractor.

Henrik the HaulerRemembering Henrik

Volvo Honors Colleague with Character that Encourages Others to “Play in the Dirt”

For more than 50 years, Volvo has been a leader in the articulated hauler category. The company’s success has been achieved not only because of continued product innovation, but because of people who believed in pushing the status quo and turning vision into reality.
Perhaps the strongest example of that came in Henrik Larsson, who spent more than 15 years with the Volvo family serving as product specialist for articulated haulers and product manager for general purpose equipment. Henrik believed in creating the best possible product and experience for people — from colleagues to customers to operators.

In October of 2015, Henrik passed away after a battle with sarcoma, shortly before the product he believed in marked its 50-year anniversary. While Volvo honored the 50th anniversary with a gold-painted articulated hauler, commemorating Henrik was a much taller order, as the goal was to capture the joy and passion he had and share it with others.

Enter Henrik the Hauler.

Henrik the Hauler finds his home in Volvo Village, and his first “jobsite” experience came with a children’s coloring and sticker book that Volvo is passing out at trade shows and other events.

“That childhood happiness that comes when you’re doing something you love every day — Henrik not only showed that in his work, but in the way he interacted with his team members and his customers,” says Dave Foster, vice president, marketing and communications. “Capturing that in a coloring book character that would allow kids to have fun and play in the dirt felt like the perfect fit to commemorate Henrik.”

To get your own copy of the coloring book, email vceonline@volvo.com with “Henrik the Hauler” in the subject line.

Read more about articulated dump trucks here.

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