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On site with the Liebherr TA230

First published in the November 2021 issue of Quarry Management 

Originally unveiled last year, Dan Gilkes takes a closer look at Liebherr’s new 28-tonne articulated dumptruck in action on a demonstration site in the UK 

Liebherr are back in the highly competitive articulated dumptruck (ADT) market, with the arrival of the first of a new generation of TA230 trucks. While the name may be familiar, the ADT boasts a completely fresh design, offering increased ground clearance, improved operator visibility, more power, and an updated body design.

Boasting a 28-tonne payload and an 18.1m3 dump body, down from 19m3 on the previous model, the TA230 joins a busy market sector, appealing to bulk earthmovers, plant hire companies and quarry operators. Liebherr promise increased productivity and flexibility, with short cycle times and a range of driver assistance systems, to improve safety on site.

Beneath the short, sloping nose, the machine is powered by Liebherr’s own D956 diesel engine. This EU Stage V-compliant six-cylinder motor has a 12-litre displacement, producing 265kW (360hp) at just 2,100 rev/min and a mighty 2,520Nm of torque. Liebherr have positioned all the radiators and cooler cores to the sides of the engine bay, to reduce the front overhang. Reversing fans will be offered as an option for particularly dusty site conditions. To improve forward visibility further, the engine is tilted down at the front by 7°, allowing the engine cover to slope even lower at the front end.

The entire exhaust after-treatment system, which consists of a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), diesel particulate filter (DPF) and a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system with exhaust fluid additive, sits behind the cab, out of the line of sight. The passive regeneration system operates without any effect on machine operation and the DPF will require refurbishment or replacement at 5,000h of operation. Exhaust gases now pass through the dump body, unlike on Liebherr’s earlier ADT models, to warm the body and reduce the chance of material sticking in colder weather.

All service and fill points can be reached from ground level, while a fold-down ladder at the front of the engine bay provides access for service and maintenance. Though not present on this demonstration machine, customer models will come with an electronic daily check system, making it easier for the operator to get up and running at the start of a shift.

As part of the move to increase ground clearance, the eight-speed ZF powershift transmission has been moved to sit above the front axle, within the redesigned chassis. The machine runs permanently in six-wheel drive and has both inter-axle and cross-axle differential locks for maximum traction in difficult terrain. 

All three axles have multi-plate wet disc brakes and the TA230 also features an engine brake and a highly effective hydrodynamic transmission retarder. As well as the eight forward ratios, the transmission offers a choice of four reverse gears. This gives the truck a maximum forward speed of 57km/h and a reverse speed of up to 16km/h, for rapid positioning under a loading machine or at the dump site.

The engine drives three axial piston pumps. Two smaller pumps power the machine’s cooling systems, ensuring ideal operating conditions for the engine and hydraulics, while a larger hydraulic pump delivers up to 345 litres/min of flow, for the steering and body lift cylinders. Dump body lifting takes just 12s, with a lowering time of 8s, for rapid discharge and increased productivity.

The new cab is accessed by sturdy steps to both sides of the machine and there are optional LED lights that can be accessed from ground level to make it easier to get in during night-time hours. The cab is larger than before, and features glass-to-glass joins between the front windscreen and front side windows. This provides an uninterrupted view to the front and sides of the machine. There are LED working lights at the front and rear of the dumptruck, whilst rear-view mirrors are electrically operated and heated. The mirror supports are also far slimmer than on Liebherr’s original ADT models.

There is a tablet-like 9in display screen to the right of the steering wheel, which provides the operator with all operating data. This touchscreen also provides a monitor for the standard rear-view camera, within the corner of the screen. Customer trucks will be supplied with Liebherr’s own on-board weighing system, with indicator lights outside the cab. However, this early demo truck was equipped with an RDS Loadmaster system. 

The operator has plenty of storage around the cab, including a standard cooled box that can hold two large drinks bottles. There are two seat options available from the factory, but Liebherr GB has standardized on the higher-specification premium seat for UK buyers, with air suspension, seat heating and lumbar support all included. A secondary training seat is also included.

The truck has four-point front axle suspension, using hydro-pneumatic cylinders. There is also four-point suspension on the rear axles. This results in a reasonable ride on the haul road, while maintaining good axle articulation for traction on rougher ground. The TA230 also boasts speed-sensitive steering, making it easy to manoeuvre at lower speeds, while maintaining control at higher haul speeds.

Though initially unveiled last year, pandemic delays have held back deliveries of the new truck, with Liebherr GB only now starting to demonstrate the TA230 across the UK. With orders already coming in, actual numbers will continue to be limited throughout the rest of this year, but the company is hoping for bigger things over the coming months. Longer term, Liebherr GB are bullish about capturing up to a 20% share of the 30-tonne ADT sector. Given the potential demand for trucks of this size for major infrastructure projects, such as HS2, the timing of this truck’s introduction could hardly be better. 

Looking further ahead, expect to see additional models joining the revised line-up with potentially a 40- or 45-tonne machine eventually, though there is no time scale for this yet.

This new ADT is such a departure from Liebherr’s earlier articulated truck design, that it might have been better to give it a different name entirely. That said, there seem to be a ready community of buyers waiting for the TA230 to arrive, in a variety of industry sectors.

The TA230 is a good-looking truck with a well-thought-out design, that delivers on the promise of increased ground clearance, improved operator comfort, and service access. Only time will tell how Liebherr’s claims of improved performance and productivity stand up, but on first acquaintance things look very positive indeed.

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