Specialised tyre repair materials and industrial rubber manufacturer Chemvulc is well equipped to meet the mining industry’s need for quicker, safer and less labour-intensive tyre inflation with its new generation, automated EMT digital inflation system.

While automatic digital inflators are commonly found in wheel alignment bays, tyre fitment and repair shops, truck stops, vehicle service centres, petrol stations, car dealerships and tyre management teams for passenger vehicle tyre inflation, they are greatly undersized for mining applications. 

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2020

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This has meant that off-the-road (OTR) tyres have traditionally required manual inflation, a process that could take upwards of 40 minutes per tyre for ultra-large tyres.

EMT digital inflator at a glance

“Using the EMT inflation system significantly reduces this time and also frees up the operator to perform important safety checks, while also maintaining a safe distance from the tyre being inflated,” says business development director Brendan van Niekerk.

“The EMT inflation system can also be tailored to the requirements of the mining fleet and works very well with Nitrogen systems too,” he adds.

The EMT inflation system, which is specifically designed for the large volume of air that is required for the inflation of large mining tyres, can be used as a single tyre inflator or can inflate two, four or six tyres simultaneously. 

The EMT inflation system is fitted standard with internal plumbing of 0.5 inch for the inflation of ultra-large OTR tyres, while a 1 inch diameter high volume inflator is also available.  The unit can also be fitted with a range of valve adaptors for super-large bore and mega-bore valves.

The importance of correct tyre inflation

Ultra-class trucks – “behemoth” haul trucks capable of moving loads at an unprecedented scale – have revolutionised mining. Critical to their carrying capability are their tyres.

Mining tyres require proper pressure maintenance to ensure optimal performance under load: Too little air causes heat build-up in the tyre and can result in catastrophic tyre failure including tyre fires; and too much pressure can also result in shortened tyre life and possibly the failure of rim components, again with catastrophic consequences. 

Load, speed and distance are all part of the formula when determining the optimal tyre pressure on these ultra-class haul trucks. Optimising tyre pressure has proven cost savings in terms of lower fuel consumption and will extend the working life of the tyre.  

Chemvulc’s EMT inflation system delivers the correct pressures required for the optimal performance of the tyre under load. The system is automatic and can consistently pump to the required pressure with a high degree of accuracy – eliminating user error and replacing uncalibrated dial gauges.  

Further enhancements

A temperature compensating unit that will adjust for the correct pressure when the tyre is hot is currently in development.

Van Niekerk explains that recommended tyre pressures are calculated at ambient temperature, so when the tyre is working the temperature rises along with the pressure, which in turn creates a false impression that the tyre is over-inflated. 

“By compensating for the higher temperature, the tyre pressure is always optimised, whatever the working temperature.”

Industry 4.0 integration

In response to the mining industry’s increasing need for systems integration, in line with Industry 4.0, Chemvulc is developing a digital tyre inflation system unit that can be integrated into the overall tyre management system.

This new tyre inflation system will be fully integrated within the tyre management system and will be able to digitally record the tyre pressures onto a database before and after inflation. Tyre inflation pressures can also be set remotely without input from the operator. 

“It is an exciting time for mining in Africa. Now more than ever, it is important that mining companies continue to drive innovation, automation and skills. Not only to make their operations more efficient, but to improve the productivity, safety and efficacy of their human resources,” Van Niekerk concludes.