TORINO, Italy – Salini Costruttori is the Italian construction company responsible for building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the largest on the African continent. The majority of 219 Astra trucks shipped to Salini in Africa (where the contractor has several dam construction projects) will help undertake this unprecedented project, which illustrates the 30 year-long relationship between the two companies. Among them, and carrying out the very toughest jobs, are 68 Astra RD40 and RD50 dump trucks equipped with Allison fully automatic transmissions.
Salini Costruttori is one of the leading players when it comes to the construction of hydro-electric power plants. The deal to build the 1800 m long, 170 m high and 10 million m3 capacity dam on the Blue Nile was worth 3,350 billion euro. Building work for the gigantic hydro-electric plant, which will have a generation capacity of 15,100 GWh per year, started in March 2011.
The main dam predominantly consists of a roller compacted concrete (RCC) structure, with two powerhouses installed at the foot of the dam. The powerhouses are located on the right and left banks of the river and accommodate ten and five Francis turbine units respectively, with a total installed generating capacity of 6000 MW. A concrete lined gated spillway and a 5 km long, 50 m high saddle dam, both located on the left bank, complete the project layout.
As with all large scale projects of this kind, it is vital that schedules and target times are kept and controlled. Equipment productivity, efficiency and reliability have to be the highest level. To this end, Salini has developed its own "Fast Track Implementation" building method which promises radical reductions – at least 50 percent – of typical construction time by focusing on the concurrent development of multiple work stages so that production starts and profits are realized much sooner than traditional construction methods, while providing a faster return on investment.
The project commenced with the earthmoving of millions of cubic meters of rocks, aggregates and concrete. For this heavy-duty job, Salini chose the Astra dumpers which are equipped with Allison fully automatic transmissions as standard. The package was chosen for its ruggedness and a driveline resistant to stress that is able to consistently deliver top performance. Allison Transmission is cited as contributing to the increase in productivity, efficiency and reliability, providing the best in off-road technology.
“We have purchased the Astra vehicles after a thorough evaluation which has considered the low operating costs, the robustness of the chassis and the off-road driving capability,” says Mr. Massimo Campitelli, Salini’s Purchasing Manager. “Moreover, our positive experience in other construction sites with the Astra RD40s and RD50s equipped with Allison has contributed to our purchasing decision and made us choose these dumpers again. The driver is allowed to concentrate on the work they do, which is very important considering the very large size of the dumpers and the bad conditions of the African trails,” concludes Mr. Campitelli.
For Salini, having tough and reliable vehicles is key, above all in Africa, where construction work is often in remote locations and where the normal expertise and presence expected for equipment servicing is very limited. “The biggest threat to our programming and our results is the risk of frequent occurrences of downtime,” says Mr. Campitelli. “Therefore the choice of reliable vehicles is vital for us.”
Astra dumpers are ideal trucks for extremely demanding applications with big payload, where superior grip and operation on rough terrain is required. Allison transmissions are known worldwide for being durable and reliable while helping to reduce stress over the whole vehicle in difficult operating conditions.
Giuseppe Repetti, Astra’s Key Accounts Sales Manager says, “While our vehicles at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have only accumulated a limited amount of working hours so far, at other locations in Africa we have dumpers that have recorded over 25,000 working hours. They’ve never had any problems and only require routine maintenance.”
These dumpers are equipped with Allison transmissions as well. “We often hear from our clients that ‘once you have fitted an Allison, you can forget it’. We are very happy and proud about this,” says Simona Pilone, Astra Account Manager for Allison Transmission in Italy. ”Those who work in this challenging market sector know that technical failure and consequent downtime against tough productivity targets can cause great stress and result in high costs. Furthermore, operating in areas so remote from urban amenities simply makes it just more difficult. Being able to count on reliable and durable components is of extreme value to our customers,” Pilone concludes.
Both Astra and Salini underline how low fuel consumption and low maintenance costs have strengthened the case for specifying entire Astra fleets.
Mr. Repetti also states, “Allison fully automatic transmissions have helped us to significantly reduce time invested in training local drivers. In such difficult missions and driving conditions, vehicle misuse is frequent. With Allison transmissions, we avoid these problems at the root cause.”
The Astra RD40 and RD50 belong to the Astra rigid dump range and are exclusively fitted with Allison fully automatic transmissions. With a gross vehicle weight of 70 tonnes (RD40) and 87 tonnes (RD50) and payloads of 40 and 50 tonnes respectively, the dumpers have a capacity of 26 m3 and 36 m3. Notwithstanding the large size, the Astra dumpers have great maneuverability, agility and acceleration capacity.
The Astra vehicles also respect safety standards, with a steel ROPS/FOPS cab providing extreme ruggedness, while the glass driver side door offers maximum visibility.
The chassis of the two dumpers are produced using high-tensile steel with extruded rectangular side members. The increased width between the longitudinal members is ideal to ensure high torsional stiffness and vehicle stability along with good positioning and tipping of the body. The front suspensions have independent steering wheels while the rear ones have a cradle and a Panhard-type transverse bar allowing easy passage over rough terrain. An in-board computer manages an evolved diagnostic control system of the vehicle, checking all the operating parameters from the engine to the electric system, from the steering to the braking system and the body tipping.
The RD40 has an Iveco Cursor 12.8 litre engine and the RD50 has a Deutz 16 litre engine providing 500 kW. These engines are coupled with Allison 5000 and 6000 Series fully automatic transmissions respectively. The Allison electronic control module continuously interacts with the engine to optimize fuel consumption and vehicle performance.
These Allison transmissions feature six forward and two reverse gears as well as a patented torque converter which ensures superior vehicle startability and rocking ability. Both are equipped with an integral retarder to reduce break wear and enhance vehicle control.
The Salini group is the third largest Italian general contractor company, which is specialized in major construction work. Turnover in 2011 amounted to €1.4 billion. With approximately 15,500 employees in the world, it is ranked as one of the foremost players in the construction of hydro-electric power plants. 32 subsidiary companies in the key countries and sectors for its core business, together with 20 strategic shareholdings in other companies in Italy and abroad create a system capable of competing for the major contracts around the world.
In its 70 year history, Salini Costruttori has developed its own operational approach that achieves extremely rapid mobilisation, the Fast Track method. The company pays close attention to the habitat and communities local to its construction sites. The entire Group operates according to environmental, ethical and professional principles under company policies that conform to the highest international criteria of governance and citizenship.
About Allison Transmission
Allison Transmission is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully-automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, medium- and heavy-tactical U.S. military vehicles and hybrid-propulsion systems for transit buses. Allison transmissions are used in a variety of applications including on-highway trucks (distribution, refuse, construction, fire and emergency), buses (primarily school and transit), motor homes, off-highway vehicles and equipment (primarily energy and mining) and military vehicles (wheeled and tracked). Founded in 1915, the Allison business is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. and employs approximately 2,800 people.
Allison has manufacturing facilities and customization centers located in China, The Netherlands, Brazil, India and Hungary, with a global presence, serving customers in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and Africa. Allison also has more than 1,500 independent distributor and dealer locations worldwide.
More information about Allison is available at www.allisontransmission.com.
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