ERLAU TPC introduces Sideflex – innovative sidewall protection for haul truck tires.

Just occasionally, we are presented with an entirely new product – something that has never been done before – which is set to fulfil all criteria.

In mining, quarrying and some earthmoving applications, the dump trucks, used to carry either waste, ore or coal from the working face to the processing plant, rely on large expensive earthmover tyres to carry out their tasks.

Depending on site conditions, these tyres can be subject to poor traction, abrasive attrition and sidewall damage.

Poor traction due to soft, clayey conditions or iced up haul roads is a safety issue. A skidding, 400 tonne truck is a dangerous thing.

Tyre abrasion is an asset issue. Abrasion can rapidly destroy tyres – leading to premature and costly replacement.

Nowadays truck operators overcome both these problems by adopting the same remedies used to protect the tyres of wheeled loading shovels, bulldozers and graders.

Fitting a suitably-patterned, durable set of tyre protection or traction chains to the truck’s drive wheels provides extra grip and absorb the abrasion -doubling and trebling tyre life.

For trucks, there still remains the risk of sidewall damage from sharp flints and shale-like debris and, once damaged in this way, the weakened tyre becomes a write-off with no possibility of extended life as a remould.

Although haul roads are regularly cleared of spills and rock falls, it only takes one stray flint to instantly destroy a tyre and disable a truck with the consequent interruption to productivity.

With loaders, dozers and graders tyres it is accepted practice to protect tyres from sidewall damage with an impenetrable, tight-meshed chain but, while, in extreme conditions, TPCs have been tried with dump trucks, the long travelling distances involved make this solution impracticable and short-lived.

Some 70 years ago, responding to the needs of the newly-arrived, pneumatic-tyred mining loaders , RUD-Erlau devised and developed the tyre protection chain (TPC) going on to hold over 65% of the world market for tyre protection and traction chains in mineral winning, forestry, scrap and demolition, steel making and other heavy-side industries.

Due to feedback from their TPC engineers, RUD-Erlau was well-aware of the vulnerability of dump truck tyres and asked their R&D team to tackle the problem.

With 130+ years’ experience in the development and manufacture of chain components, the first instinct was to create a device based on steel-alloy elements.

However, success only came when the team turned its attention to materials used in other industries and developed ‘Sideflex’ – a truly innovative addition to their range of asset protection products.

As with all RUD-Erlau products, simplicity is the key word for Sideflex.

A sturdy set of replacement wheel nuts and extensions support a simple steel ring to which is attached a fanned array of over-lapping platelets. These platelets shield the entire sidewall of the truck tyre deflecting rock fragments harmlessly away.

While the mounting components are made of steel, the all-important ‘Sideflex’ shield is manufactured from a sophisticated engineering polymer which has found many applications in the automotive and other industries.

This robust material, which is used to protect automobiles, has an unique memory capability that enables the platelets to flex and deform upon impact and then return to their original shape without any loss of integrity.

The entire Sideflex assembly is so lightweight and low-profile that owners of dump trucks – small and large – have, for the first time, a cost-effective means of protecting and saving their expensive tyres.

Having already undergone many months of extensive real-life, no-holds-barred field trials in a local quarry, Sideflex is performing well and delivering its promised potential.

Sideflex is not a minor modification.

Fully-patented, Sideflex is a true Innovation set to complete RUD-Erlau’s comprehensive range of tyre protection products yet again cutting the cost of tyre ownership.