Delegates at this year’s AIMEX mining show in Sydney were the first to see the unveiling of PJ Berriman’s new Nipper purpose-built mining four-wheel drive. Now, ILN subscribers can take a longer look at the detail.
The new Nipper is a long-wheelbase version of the previous model and has been specifically designed, complete with flame proofing and explosion proofing (an option where necessary), for underground coal mining conditions in Queensland and New South Wales. According to PJB sales engineer, Andy Graham, the new machine is a significant leap forward, boasting a monocoque construction (using corrosion resistant 3CR12 steel) which makes the vehicle stronger and gives it a significantly reduced mass.
"This is definitely the most significant update we’ve put out," Graham said. "The vehicle is much lighter. In fact we’ve been able to take about two tonnes out of the chassis. Likewise, a lot of work has gone into rust resistance. I think this is going to be an important selling point for us. I was speaking to a bloke at a gold mine in Western Australia recently and he said that the chassis of their traditional 4WDs were rusting out in 12-18 months."
It is in the area of service life that Graham puts forward a case for the higher up-front capital cost of the purpose-built machine. A PJB coal Nipper costs about $150,000 (depending on options) and a metalliferous version about $90,000. Of course that is much more than the $60,000 you’d expect to pay for a conventional 4WD, but Graham says those numbers go to the wall when total life span and total cost per operating hour are calculated.
According to PJB, the total cost per hour can be four times greater for commercial vehicles than for purpose-built machines operating in an underground coal environment.
While the Nipper might not be an oil painting to look out, its "purely business" design includes greater chassis strength, a highly efficient engine and drive line package and a good power to weight ratio to ensure reduced travelling times. The purpose-built chassis also means improved ergonomics for the driver and passengers — consequently the seating capacity has increased from 12 to 14 people.
"The chassis is flexible in terms of what you want to do with it," Graham said. "The Nipper can be a personnel carrier, a service or supply vehicle, and it can have a flat deck or base that holds a scissor lift or crane attachment."
PJB is not a newcomer to the mining industry. The company has been involved in the supply of specialist vehicles to the underground coal sector for the past 22 years and during that time has produced more than 300 vehicles which have been distributed domestically and worldwide.