• Wheels used MINExpo as the launch platform for its Swift Wheel Technologies, a development in its mining wheel and hub technologies. The company also formally signed a new five-year distribution agreement with Australian-based Rimtec - a partnership covering GKN’s wheels distribution in the Asia Pacific Rim regions. GKN Wheels showcased its focus on research and development to address challenges within the mining industry. The new mining range includes; a new 63″ Swift Change Rim;  Swift ID - a wheel identification system; and its large capacity hub and spindle range - bringing the latest 22,700 kg load capacity design to the harsher environments of mining. GKN Wheels also emphasised the scale and scope of its capabilities at MINExpo, exhibiting its 33″ and 49″ wheels alongside the new product launches.

    The time required for the inspection, maintenance and replacement of wheels on heavy mining equipment creates a significant cost consideration for mining operators. Changing tyres on large wheels also requires considerable care to ensure personnel safety.

    Offering an innovative solution, the new 63″ Swift Change Rim has a double gutter design which minimises the time needed for tire changes, leading to increased on-site productivity. The Swift Change Rim also offers improved safety for tyre maintenance personnel.

    Jules Carter, Global Engineering & Product Development Director at GKN Wheels said: “The new range of larger mining wheels complements and extends our existing product lines and will enable us to meet the needs of the mining marketplace in China and throughout Australasia. In extending our offering to the mining market, GKN Wheels has taken a truly global approach, with R&D activity focused in the US, testing at the company’s dedicated Technical Centres in the US and Italy, and production in China. In addition, trial wheels have been running on Caterpillar and Komatsu mining trucks in the Asia Pacific region since 2009 and are performing strongly, attracting some positive customer feedback.”

    GKN’s expertise in design and development has been critical in the development of its new mining wheels range. Carter added: “The largest opencast mining trucks carry loads of up to 400 t and the wheels for this machinery must fulfil the toughest performance criteria, demonstrating both strength and reliability. Of course, it is also important to reduce weight where possible to improve fuel efficiency. By employing the latest engineering technologies and computer-simulated modelling techniques, we have been able to achieve all of these criteria.”

    GKN Wheels introduced the Swift ID Chip at MINExpo. This technology allow operators to access key information on the wheel with a scanning device. Initially, the data chips will allow access to manufacturing date, operational hours and maintenance due dates. This represents the first stage in a phased program that will progressively provide operators with the ability to monitor a range of information relating to aspects of wheel operation, optimising efficiency, increasing maintenance efficiency and contributing to reduced downtime.

    GKN launched its 22,700 kg load capacity hub and spindle range. The manufacturer has been able to draw on its extensive off-highway expertise, and established track record in developing high performance hubs for the agricultural market, to bring this large capacity design to the harsher environments of mining.

    Exhibiting the high capacity solutions for the first time, GKN Wheels can now supply fully integrated wheel, hub and spindle designs that have been manufactured and performance-verified using both engineering modelling and live product testing.

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