Sector Analysis: Off-Road Trucks

Rugged, robust and powerful off-road trucks are equipped for the harsh environmental conditions of the Middle East region. Manufacturers such as Renault, Scania, MAN and Mercedes now all feature ranges that more than capable of coping with the demands of going off-road here while also being able to cross-over onto roads when needed. Likewise heavy […]

Being able to handle off-road conditions is essential

Being able to handle off-road conditions is essential

Rugged, robust and powerful off-road trucks are equipped for the harsh environmental conditions of the Middle East region. Manufacturers such as Renault, Scania, MAN and Mercedes now all feature ranges that more than capable of coping with the demands of going off-road here while also being able to cross-over onto roads when needed.

Likewise heavy machinery makers such as Terex and Doosan have been busy developing their dedicated off-road equipment such as articulated dump trucks ADT.

The region is also becoming a hotbed for local companies ready to convert existing vehicles for niche applications such as mining. Scania is continuously expanding its offering of construction vehicles to suit new applications and new customer needs. New solutions are often found when digging deeper into the possibilities of Scania’s modular product system.

New systems and components are always in the pipeline and often find widespread use thanks to modularity. Maximum uptime and robustness are usually top priorities for new construction vehicle developments.

Besides the new off-road trucks and new looks for the P-series, a host of new features and bodywork options have been specifically developed for construction operation.

While the Swedish company has been expanding its local presence in the region it has been modify its production lines and improving the range of factory preparations to ensure that their vehicles arrive almost ready to work.

To address the needs of the off-road market, Scania has added bigger non-slip steps, an additional step for windscreen cleaning and light guards to its off-road range of tractive units and multi wheelers. As an option the chassis can be supplied with factory-fitted PTO hydraulics and tank to power tipper rams or similar. 

“Preparations already fitted at the factory will improve quality and shorten the time needed for bodybuilding, which in turn means that the vehicle can be put into operation one to two months earlier than usual,” claims the company. “Some complete vehicles are produced centrally, others in cooperation with local bodybuilders.”

Pexi Gulf, a Sharjah-based off shoot of US company Pexi Inc  has  been building on its work of taking proven chassis, such as the Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG and the MAN KAT, to create a series of mine protected vehicles, mobile work shops and cranes to assist in the mine clearing operations in sub-Saharan Africa. It has also been heavily in construction contracts and projects, often converting surplus military vehicles for off-road applications. 

“We offer trucks and equipment from the world’s leading manufacturers. Over the years we have built relationships with dealers in key regions,” the company says.

 “We also have a network of workshops we partner with to build up trucks and equipment to your needs and delivery them according to the schedule. In addition to trucks and truck mounted equipment, we supply the entire range of construction equipment your project needs. Be it loader, dozer, grader or crusher .”

Much of Mercedes’ progress in the region is being driven by its Actros truck, which has been deployed in a wide number of off-road applications, supporting mining and the petrochemicals industry in particular, where operations tend to be located in remote and tough environments.

The design and material of the Actros’ frame equip it or withstanding very high loads. The longitudinal and cross members are 9.5 mm thick. The material used is cold-formed, high-strength steel grade E 500 TM.

With bolted and riveted joins, the frame offers superb torsional rigidity. It also exhibits remarkable torsional flexibility that helps it to handle off-road conditions when fully laden. Wheelbase versions ranging from 3300 to 6000 mm are available.

“All chassis components, whether frame, suspension, axles or brakes, are designed to withstand the extreme conditions that are commonly encountered in the Middle East,” says Mercedes. “The way the components are matched up likewise reflects the harsh operating conditions in situ: a robust basis for vehicles with a lengthy operating life.”

While some companies tend to downgrade their vehicles to suit operators and contractors in the region Mercedes has taken  an alternative route and has been using electronics for many years: “Successfully so, because the systems used are not only reliable and safe. They also prevent operating errors and therefore protect the vehicle.”

All vehicle functions are interlinked in the Telligent system. Via the serial CAN data bus, its component systems retrieve, process, regulate and control all important vehicle data. Whether for the powertrain or the chassis, the systems achieve smooth interaction between all important vehicle functions.

Earlier this year, Renault Trucks launched its latest iteration of the Kerax truck (reviewed in CMME’s  April 2012 issue), which looks like an impressive desert dweller. Originally planned to launch in 2010, progress for the truck in the Middle East was slowed during the downturn, but the French company believes the time is right for the 11l, 6 cylinder polymath.

Arguably the two most prominent off-road trucks in recent years (certainly in the Gulf region) have been the launches of Volvo’s FMX, an off-road version of its F-series truck and MAN’s on/off-road truck, the TGS-WW.

Based on the FM platform, Volvo has developed the software and hardware (some are optional extras) to suit aggressive and heavy off-road operations. I-Shift has been tweaked to cope with muddy and dusty conditions, and to meet the higher demands of running in hostile environments – where surfaces can offer little in the way of grip, and where driver skills may be tested to the extreme.

The FMX comes with a choice of four chassis heights, two engine types with eight power outputs, and three transmission options (with new software packages for I-Shift).

The markets in which MAN Nutzfahrzeuge is offering the TGS WW are largely in the regions of the Middle and Far East, Africa and Russia. In many instances, the climate as well as the typical road conditions are very different from those found in Europe.

For off-road operation MAN offers the TGS WW at weights ranging from 18 to 41 tonnes in medium-height and high-body design. This means more ground clearance beneath the planetary hub axles. 4×4, 6×4, 6×6, 8×4 and 8×8 configurations are available, all with leaf suspension. 

As far as power is concerned, TGS WW drivers can rely on economical D20 and D26 in-line six-cylinder engines with the common-rail injection that has demonstrated its reliability thousands of times over. Depending on the regulations for registration, the engines comply with the Euro 2 or Euro 3 emission standards.

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