To haul weighty loads across rugged terrain and maneuver tight corners with ease, you need something more than an ordinary truck. An articulated dump truck is often the answer.
Dump trucks are popular in many industries because of their unique hauling capabilities. In particular, an articulated dump truck has the power and dependability you need to accomplish the toughest of tasks and the precise handling required to ensure safety and efficiency.
When you need parts for an articulated dump truck, Prime Source is here to help you procure both new and used machine parts. For articulated dump trucks, in particular, we offer durable tailgates you can trust to hold up to the strain of hauling, transporting and discharging massive loads. Plus, we back all our parts up with the knowledge, expertise and professionalism you need to find solutions in a demanding industry.
We’re also committed to helping our customers learn more about heavy equipment and its many uses. In this guide, we’ll discuss what an articulated dump truck is, how it works and how you can optimize one of these impressive vehicles for your site or industry.
What Is an Articulated Dump Truck?
An articulated dump truck has a body, or chassis, that’s divided into two sections:
- A tractor component that contains the cab.
- A trailer component that contains the dump body.
The two sections of the chassis can move separately, offering greater maneuverability and control.
A traditional dump truck with a single-piece chassis is known as a rigid dump truck. In a rigid dump truck, the chassis comprises one continuous piece of metal. Both the cab and the dump body are mounted on top of this inflexible chassis.
An articulated dump truck, on the other hand, contains an articulated chassis. The cab of the truck is mounted onto the front component of the chassis. The dump body is mounted onto the back component. The articulation joint contains a pivot point that allows the two pieces of the chassis to move independently. This articulation joint is located just behind the cab of the truck.
How Does an Articulated Dump Truck Work?
An articulated dump truck works by bending at the articulation joint, so it can navigate more easily.
A rigid dump truck steers by using a rack and pinion system. This system turns the entire chassis of the truck at the same time as the front and rear wheels move. Alternatively, an articulated dump truck can pivot at the articulation joint — this process is known as articulated steering.
When an articulated dump truck needs to turn, the cab of the truck turns first. It rotates at the articulation joint to form a 90-degree angle with the dump bed — somewhat like a jack-knifing semi-truck. Meanwhile, the back section of the chassis — the section with the dump bed — remains in position. As the truck continues driving, the back part of the chassis begins to turn as well. Then the dump truck begins to straighten out, and the dump bed eventually rotates and lines back up with the cab.
History of the Articulated Dump Truck
In the 1950s, in Essex, England, a farmer named Ernest Doe purchased two tractors. He removed the front axles from each tractor, and then he connected one to the other by attaching the back end of the first to the front end of the second. In this way, an articulated vehicle was born. It was called the Doe Triple D — for Doe dual drive. It had double power — since each tractor still had an engine — and it rode on four rear tires, while the front, cantilevered engine rode on air. Most important, it had a hydraulic joint that allowed the front segment to turn independently of the back.
Eventually, a modified version of this design became the design for primitive articulated dump trucks. In 1957, a Yorkshire company, Northfield, experimented with a prototype double-axled hauling vehicle. It, too, could swing at its hydraulic joint. This vehicle, rolled out in 1960 and called the Northfield F7, could haul 12 tons. It lacked four-wheel drive, however, so its usefulness was limited.
In 1966, a Swedish company called Livab, in partnership with Volvo, introduced a new model. This model had no front axle — instead, like modern designs, it connected the cab to the trailer unit through the use of hydraulic steering linkage. This four-wheel-drive articulated dump truck was such as success that in the 1970s and 1980s, Volvo bought out the company, along with another Swedish manufacturer that was producing similar models, so they could manufacturer these models themselves.
Bogie Undercarriage and Six Drive Wheels
Of course, the articulated dump truck models of the ’60s and ’70s did not incorporate the same comfort and performance features that manufacturers are capable of today. They lacked automatic transmissions and suspension systems, but they were durable. Because they lacked advanced features, operating these early trucks in rough terrain was difficult. It was hard for the drivers and hard on the vehicles themselves. The trucks could travel no faster than 20 miles an hour and haul no more than 10 tons.
Finally, one Volvo model, the DR860, introduced the type of suspended undercarriage. This new feature, known as the bogie undercarriage, would allow the truck’s wheels to jolt up and down over uneven terrain while holding the dumper body steady.
In the early 1970s, the Norwegian company Moxy took its D15 model to market. Unlike its predecessors, the D15 was not a 4X4 — it was a 6X6 with a bogie undercarriage, and it made six drive wheels the standard for articulated dump trucks — a standard that persists to this day.
Benefits of Using an Articulated Dump Truck
Using an articulated dump truck instead of a rigid dump truck provides several different benefits, including:
- Tighter turning radius: Because it moves in segments, effectively dividing itself into two smaller bodies rather than one large one, an articulated dump truck has a much tighter turning radius than a traditional rigid dump truck. The tighter radius allows for better handling and control.
- Improved maneuverability: The main benefit of the tighter turning radius is the vastly increased maneuverability it offers. An articulated dump truck is ideal for trips and job sites that require navigating tight corners. An articulated dump truck allows the operator to drive with a greater degree of precision and confidence.
- Enhanced safety: The tighter turning radius of an articulated dump truck also makes it safer to operate. The precision with which an articulated dump truck can turn means a decreased likelihood of bumping into other vehicles, objects or pedestrians. To promote job site and transportation safety and reduce the risk of accidents, an articulated dump truck is an excellent choice.
- Improved flexibility: An articulated dump truck is ideal for a number of different industries and job site requirements. Articulated dump trucks are common for use in a variety of different construction and excavation projects. Plus, their ability to perform in both open and confined spaces, as well as over varied types of terrain, makes them reliable for use in all kinds of working conditions.
- Increased off-road capabilities: Many articulated dump trucks also offer the advantage of heightened off-road performance. Because the frame of a rigid dump truck is fixed, its chassis is more likely to twist as the truck drives over rocky or uneven ground. With an articulated truck, the inherent turning capability of the articulated steering system relieves some of the torque and pressure and allows the truck to remain stable as it traverses rough surfaces. Many articulated dump trucks also have large tires, a wider frame and a lower center of gravity than their rigid counterparts. These features make them optimal for off-road use as well.
- Optimized operator comfort: Articulated dump trucks see heavy usage in construction and excavation jobs where employees often work long, exhausting shifts. For this reason, many articulated dump trucks are designed with operator comfort in mind. Many models feature air conditioning, heated seats, intuitive, ergonomic controls and robust suspension systems to cut down on vibrations.
What Kind of Jobs Use Articulated Dump Trucks?
Several different industries use articulated dump trucks on their job sites:
- Construction: Construction sites of all types, from residential developments to industrial installations to highway and pipeline tunnel projects, use articulated dump trucks to carry materials and remove excavated debris, such as dirt, rocks, stumps and downed trees.
- Mining: The mining industry uses articulated dump trucks to carry away excavated dirt and transport mined minerals. Especially in the cramped conditions of mine sites, articulated dump trucks offer the benefits of maneuverability and safety.
- Quarries: Quarries use articulated dump trucks to carry away excavated rock. Because a quarry site is likely to be rocky and uneven, the articulated steering, with its superior maneuverability and stability, offers a major advantage.
- Material handling: Material handling requires the transport of heavy, bulk-quantity materials safely and efficiently. The use of an articulated dump truck helps handle and transport these products to keep supply chains moving and businesses running.
Tips for Operating Articulated Dump Trucks
Whether you have a single trusty articulated dump truck or a whole fleet of workhorse dumpers, here are a few tips on how to maximize vehicle performance.
- Choose the right size for your applications: The applications that require an articulated dump truck will determine the size of the truck you need. For example, a smaller truck is likely sufficient for short off-road hauls, but if you’re hauling more substantial loads, a larger truck may suit your needs better.
- Outfit your vehicles with the required safety equipment: The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) have established requirements for safety equipment in articulated dump trucks operated in certain industries. Be sure to outfit your vehicles accordingly to help prevent accidents and extend the longevity of your fleet.
- Consider your industry and site conditions: You can often customize some of the features of your articulated dump truck to optimize the truck for your site conditions. If you know your truck will have to drive over abrasive, rocky soil, consider investing in heavy-duty tires. Or, if you know the dump body will absorb repeated, massive impacts, consider a body liner to extend the truck body’s lifespan.
- Perform scheduled maintenance: The best way to maintain and extend the lifespan of your articulated dump truck is to stick to a maintenance schedule. Daily lubrication is often necessary, and you should also be sure to inspect tires, assess structural components and check for leaks at regular intervals. Be sure to take extreme conditions into account — if you operate your trucks in a dusty environment, for instance, more frequent filter changes and engine pre-cleaners may be necessary.
- Set and stick to limits: All pieces of equipment have limits to their capabilities, and articulated dump trucks — no matter how rugged and reliable — are no exception. Figure out your trucks’ stability limits during dumping and turning, and operate your vehicles safely within those limits to prevent rollovers. You should also be sure to operate your truck at a safe speed, especially downhill and when fully loaded, to avoid a runaway situation. Avoid overloading your truck as well to prevent vehicle and tire damage.
Articulated Truck Tailgates
Adding a tailgate to an articulated dump truck helps enhance the truck’s performance. As with the tailgate for a pickup, the tailgate for an articulated dump truck closes off the rear of the bed with a hinged partition you can lower for ease of loading and unloading.
- Improved capacity: A tailgate allows you to load more materials onto your truck. With a standard dump bed, you might pile most of your materials near the front of the bed and leave the back clear to prevent spillage. But with a tailgate for your articulated dump truck, you can pile materials high across the entire area. Whether you’re hauling gravel, dirt, sand, rocks, coal or any other material, a tailgate helps you reliably take on more.
- Enhanced load retention: A tailgate also allows you to keep your load securely in the dump bed of your articulated truck. With an open bed, there’s always the possibility that materials could fall out the back, especially if the truck has to turn or accelerate suddenly. Losing materials in this way could present a significant safety hazard — it’s also inconvenient and possibly costly. For mining and excavation projects, a tailgate helps reduce rock spillage. For construction projects, a tailgate helps ensure the security of building materials during transport.
- Increased productivity: A tailgate helps make your employees more efficient and productive. When they can load more materials, they can make fewer trips — and when they can make fewer trips, they can spend more time on other necessary tasks.
- Extended truck lifespan: Having a tailgate also helps extend the lifespan of an articulated dump truck. When the truck can carry larger loads, it can make fewer trips. Making fewer trips reduces wear and tear on the engine and frame and allows for greater longevity, as well as more time between repairs.
At Prime Sources, our tailgates come in 25, 30, 40 and 45-ton options, so you can find the right tailgate for your truck and hauling needs. Their ruggedness, high performance and reliability make them invaluable additions to your articulated dump truck or fleet. Each tailgate comes with heavy-duty steel construction, minimal maintenance needs, and a precision fit and finish for compatibility with many articulated dump truck models.
Contact Prime Source for All Your Tailgate and Equipment Part Needs
Our friendly, professional customer service also means we can help resolve problems with ease. Our experienced, certified technicians have years of expertise — on average, they have been with the company for 20 years — and can put their experience to work, getting you the parts your operation needs for success. We also offer a one-year warranty and provide expert maintenance and repairs.
Get in touch with us today by filling out our contact form online or giving us a call during our hours of operation at 704.610.5081.