HomeEXPLORATIONSANY cementing its...

SANY cementing its global success

SANY is one of the best known and most successful Chinese OEMs in the global construction and mining markets. In this article, IM Editorial Director Paul Moore reviews its mining line-up based on a Shenyang factory visit in 2019 and developments since then.

Before the pandemic, IM completed an extensive tour of China, visiting with six of the major mining equipment OEMs in the country and meeting with two others at major mining events – seven of the resulting articles have since been published. The last visit was to arguably the most globally well known of the companies – Changsha-headquartered SANY – but at their largest mining equipment factory in Shenyang. This article reviews that visit as well as some of the key developments at SANY since then, especially in the area of equipment electrification and automation. 

Overall SANY sees its market strength as being able to offer high quality and reliability but still at a lower price than Western companies due to its extensive domestic manufacturing capabilities. Of all the Chinese groups it also has a very well established global sales and service organisation plus a lot of direct global experience – as an example it made a ground breaking deal for Chinese construction machinery groups in 2012 when it acquired shotcreting equipment leader Putzmeister. 

Globally the company sells mining equipment both directly and through dealers. Under SANY Group there is Sany Heavy Industry (Sany HI) which is managed from the HQ in Changsha and works through dealers but also has a direct presence in Brazil, Germany, India and South Africa. Sany Heavy Equipment (Sany HE) also has an international department and works closely with Sany Heavy Industry around the world on different projects. A major focus for the company is also to develop more in country dealerships for Sany HE. “Having a local dealer staffed by local people is very important, particularly in supporting mining equipment but also to develop good local relationship and enable some customisation of equipment for local markets,” Deng Wenxu, Sany HE International Dept Manager told IM

SANY’s Shenyang manufacturing location comes under SANY HE and is one of the major subsidiaries of SANY Group, which is the largest construction machinery company in China, and was listed by Forbes as the second in the world after Caterpillar for 2021 in its Forbes Global 2000 list. At the Shenyang factory, it produces rigid mining trucks from 33 t to 290 t class, wide body “tipper” trucks for mining and construction, coal and soft rock mining roadheaders, and finally longwall shearers for coal mining. It argues that it is number one in the world for roadheaders with in excess of 50% of the worldwide market, with its sales about 95% for coal mining and 5% for tunnelling. This is despite SANY only beginning roadheader production in 2005. It argues that before this, the available roadheaders in China were of poor quality while it introduced reliable and robust models that now include its 160-570 kW EBZ Series for coal seams, 467-570 kW STR Series for mixed rock and coal duties plus the hard rock 757- 867 kW SCR Series for tunnelling. The roadheaders all include independently developed technologies such as variable-volume pumps, double telescopic oil cylinders and soft transmission. 

In the roadheader market, domestic sales still dominate given that China’s coal production now exceeds 4 billion tonnes. But it has exported roadheaders to many major coal mining countries including India, Russia and Ukraine, with a lot of the success being driven by Chinese contractors. In India in particular it has worked closely with Singareni Collieries, which operates 24 underground mines. 

IM Editorial Director Paul Moore with SANY HE Intl Dept Manager Deng Wenxu at the factory in Shenyang

SANY’s focus on longwall mining began in 2016 and it quickly became the only Chinese OEM to offer the whole system of shearers, roof supports and AFCs, with other companies focusing on one of the three components. Users of complete SANY longwall systems include Shandong Energy Group. It has also exported longwall equipment to Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Indonesia amongst others.

Innovations have included the development of a water based hydraulic system for roof supports instead of oil, which is more environmentally friendly and also lower cost. These supports were developed in conjunction from 2018 onwards as part of a JV with Shenhua Group, which merged with China Guodian to become China Energy Investment Corporation which is also known as CHN Energy and remains by far China’s largest coal producer. 

Rigid trucks and global success 

Discussing the Chinese rigid mining truck market, it is interesting that SANY’s Wenxu emphasises how small it is in China relatively speaking – dominated by a small number of very large coal open pits centred on Inner Mongolia such as Heidaigou and Haerwusu, part of CHN Energy; SPIC’s Huolinhe and Huaneng Group’s Yiminhe, plus the Bayan Obo iron ore & rare earths mines of Baogang Group; plus a group of others such as the Antaibao coal mine of China Coal Pingshuo in Shanxi, Dexing Copper Mines in Jiangxi and the huge Julong copper mining complex of Zijin Mining in the Tibet region.

IM’s Paul Moore in Shenyang with one of the SET230 rigid mining trucks made by SANY

The market for large rigids for these mines is in the hundreds on an annual basis and spread across quite a mix of OEMs, but mostly XCMG, SANY, XEMC and NHL. SANY produced two 230 t SET230 trucks which have been used in coal and iron ore operations and has designs for larger models including the 290 t SET300. Both these trucks have Wabtec electric drive systems (GE240AC and GE320AC) with Cummins QSK60 engines (C2500 and C2700 variants) which are made in Daventry, UK. A recent project is the SET150S mining truck in the 136 t class. It is available with a Weichai WP17 or DEUTZ TCD18 engine but also SANY’s own RQ150-SYA560B electric drive. The model has been trialled extensively in China and is being marketed globally, particularly in South Africa and Russia. 

SANY has built up quite a successful export market for mechanical drive rigids, notably for its 95 t class SRT95C truck which has been exported in the 100s to mining operations especially to Africa including Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Tunisia but also to India and Indonesia amongst others. Its smaller class rigids, including the 33 t SRT33, 45 t SRT45 plus 55 t SRT55D model have also been successful globally, notably in Argentina and India but also Chile, Vietnam and elsewhere. Both the 55 t and 95 t models use Cummins engines and Allison transmissions and have front disc brakes and rear all-enclosed, multi-disc, oil-cooled brakes. The 95 t model has a Cummins QST30 engine, again imported from the UK. 

SANY’s Wenxu told IM: “We have been successful with rigid trucks around the world, where other Chinese OEMs have not, because we are closest in quality to Caterpillar and Komatsu but with a price up to 20% lower. Our trucks are simple to maintain with the same quality including Cummins engines, Allison transmissions and McPherson strut front suspensions plus high quality axles and the frame, chassis and cylinders all tested to very high specifications. We also recognise how important availability is for rigid trucks and we support all our trucks with service and spare parts – this includes our service engineers and technicians being with the trucks for at least six months after delivery. We already have global customers having made two or three repeat orders with us for rigid trucks.” This includes in Zambia where a customer bought two units in 2017 then followed up with nine more in 2018. As a service support example, one customer in India has a large SRT55D fleet and is supported with a permanent team of three SANY technicians and containerised spare parts supply onsite.  

Leading a wide body revolution in trucks 

Moving on to wide body tipper trucks, SANY has a huge market presence in China but has also been very successful in exporting the concept of tipper trucks and its SKT Series to export markets – both diesel models but also battery electric. So why are wide body trucks doing so well in mining? “Wide body trucks can be as little as 30% of equivalent rigid truck prices – yes they have a shorter lifetime but our trucks have been shown to be able to last in a mining environment for five years or more. The suspension on our tipper trucks is very important – we use cylinder based suspensions just as we do for rigids, unlike many of our competitors, so we think this gives us an edge.” 

It is undoubtedly the case that the tipper truck market is fiercely competitive – beyond SANY you have XCMG, Liugong, SDLG, LGMG, Sinotruk, Zoomlion, Tongli and many others. Plus they are competing with Western off-road tipper brands like Volvo with its FMX products but also Scania and others. 

Iron ore major CSN is one of SANY’s key partners in Brazil including on battery electric trucks

But to give some examples of SANY’s success, in Brazil, Sany do Brasil, since 2021, has been investing in the mining market with wide body truck imports in the form of the 60 t SKT90S off-road truck and the Sany SKT90E electric off-road truck. Sany do Brasil was able to formalise, in May 2022, the sale of 23 SANY SKT90S off-road trucks and three SANY SY750H excavators to CSN Mineracao for its Casa de Pedra iron ore mine. In Q1 2022, CSN Mineracao also signed an important agreement with Sany aiming at become the first mining company in Brazil to use 100% electric trucks in its fleet. Already this year, two trucks that will make up the fleet to transport mining tailings came into operation. These are 60 t class SKT90E models which arrived in Brazil in mid-May 2022. This SANY model is also autonomous-ready. This year alone SANY has also delivered fleets of SKT90S trucks to cement major Grupo Votorantim to its Araçariguama quarrying operations; as well as to quarry operator Grupo Itaquareia and iron ore miner JMN Mineração, part of Grupo J Mendes. SANY operates in the country both direct and through dealer Irmen Máquinas based in Sao Paulo. 

SANY autonomous and battery electric SKT90E trucks during testing in China

Moving to Thailand, in November 2021, 18 units of SKT90S wide-body mining trucks and six units of SKT90E wide-body battery electric and autonomous-ready mining trucks were delivered by China’s SANY to a key mining contractor client in the country having been shipped from China to Laem Chabang port. The order was handled by local subsidiary Sany Vietnam Fuli Machinery along with in-country heavy equipment dealer Leadway Heavy Machinery with the customer being leading Thai mining contractor Thaidrill Co Ltd. With 10 units of the 90S already purchased by the client in 2020, there are currently a total of 34 SANY trucks in the Thaidrill fleet, which are in service in two large mining areas in Lopburi Province and Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. 

In India, a key handover celebration was held in September 2021 in the presence of top management from both the companies wherein SANY India handed over to the mining group Durga Infra its 100th SANY wide body dump truck of model SKT90S. The SKT90S is a tipper style truck with a 60 t payload, with a number of improvements over more basic models of this design including a hydro-pneumatic suspension to replace the traditional leaf spring structure, vastly improving the machine life and operator comfort of the machine as well as upping availability. It also has full hydraulic steering making operating the truck easier and safer. Tens of thousands of these tipper style trucks are operating in India but operators are now looking for greater reliability. SANY states that the SKT90S has “a core advantage of efficiency, comfort and a superior payload capacity” with the majority of the 100 machines working at Durga Infra Mining’s lignite mining operations in Gujarat. Durga Infra Mining Private Ltd operates more than eight mines across India with a fleet of 1,000+ mining machines.  

Looking at its battery electric model, the SKT90E has a payload of 60 t and a maximum speed of 44 km/h. The battery is a Lithium Iron Phosphate type from CATL with a capacity of 350 kWh, which can be charged quickly in 60-70 minutes. The truck is also autonomous ready. At a mine in China in 2020 two unmanned battery electric SKT90E wide-body mining trucks successfully realised connection and coordination with a teleremote 5G-controlled excavator and cloud platform in place of operators working in the pit, which creates both a safer and more efficient unmanned operation. The two SKT90E wide-body mining trucks SANY says demonstrated high-level environmental identification and positioning capacity. They can conduct timely decision making and accurate route planning in the operational area. The deviation of the horizontal control of the unmanned operation can be kept under 30 cm. The trucks can independently complete route-tracking, loading and unloading of material, and parking. With the support of an integration of multiple sensing technologies including millimetre-wave radar, laser radar and visual sensor, the truck can conduct the scanning and tracking of obstacles within 150 m and it can also implement distance ranging and identification within 100 m in response to different weather conditions in different seasons. 

Battery swapping experience 

There is still a debate in surface mining about whether battery charging or battery swapping is the best option. In February 2022, battery giant CATL and SANY Group celebrated the operation of the Fujian battery swapping demonstration project for heavy-duty on road trucks. The electric trucks are all installed with CATL’s large-capacity LFP batteries, which can not only achieve net-zero emissions and zero pollution, but also allow high-power fast charging and are capable of rapid battery swapping within 3-5 minutes, relieving anxiety in terms of charging time and range, which has greatly improved the efficiency of vehicle operation. The swapping approach also has potential in mining. CATL recently told IM: “Unlike applications of passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles, the mining application of traction batteries is faced with unique challenges including recharging. Uphill driving of heavy-duty mining vehicles requires high energy consumption and subsequently multiple rounds of battery charging. We see battery swapping is an effective solution to address this challenge. The vibration and shock caused by the rough and bumpy grounds can be two to three times stronger than those on the roads, and collision and overturning might happen in mining areas, which requires higher damage resistance of large-capacity battery systems and higher level of safety after thermal propagation is caused by destruction.” After all, battery swapping is already becoming the dominant approach in underground mining, so why not on surface?

SANY heavy truck docking at a battery swapping station

And a full range of excavators 

The company is also making excavator strides to match its truck progress. At the large end of the scale, SANY Heavy Industry’s first 300 t electric-drive front (face) shovel, the SY2600E, just this year rolled off a production line in Kunshan Industrial Park in Suzhou. This is currently SANY’s largest crawler excavator product (building on a 200 ton model launched in 2008) and is 15 m long and 8 m high, and about three stories high. It has a fully electronic control system with eight pumps and three valves. The bucket capacity reaches 15 cubic metres, and the shovel bucket can handle about 20 t of ore or overburden. 

SANY said it is a new breakthrough in ‘electric drive + front shovel’ with low energy consumption, large load, high reliability, operator comfort and other characteristics. In terms of energy saving, the product adopts an advanced fully electronically controlled closed-centre hydraulic system, which has faster dynamic response and lower pressure loss by using a 6,000V, 900kW high-power motor. Thanks to long-life reinforced structural parts and a four-wheel belt chassis, “the machine has a longer life and more reliable performance; in addition, the product is equipped with an automatic lubrication system, a centralised filling system…and the maintenance parts are centrally designed, making the overall maintenance convenient.”

Chen Jiayuan, Chairman of SANY Heavy Machinery said: “In the future, the SY2600E product will be introduced to the global mining market, and the Sany Heavy Industry excavation team will continue to strive for the research and development goal of 400 t or even 800 t large excavators, and contribute to the large-scale excavator equipment manufacturing industry in China.”

SANY’s SY2600E shovel rolled off the Suzhou production line in 2022

At the lower end of the large models for mining are the SY870H (78.6 t), SY980H (95.8 t) and SY1250H (125 t). These are all also made in Suzhou. Looking at the two larger models, “robust and highly productive,” the SY1250H excavator the company says “features the latest technological upgrades and exceptional performance as a result of SANY’s decades of expertise in developing the ultra-large excavators. The excavator offers a fuel-efficient, reliable and intelligent solution for large scale earthworks including earth excavation and open-pit ore mining.”

The SY980H excavator is powered by a high-pressure, large-flow electrically controlled hydraulic system with reduced fuel consumption and dynamic response engine, “offering stable operations for various heavy-load excavation missions such as stone, coal, metal and more. The machine boosts the superior matching control technology that is designed to comprehensively increases efficiency by 30% compared to the previous generation.”

Continue reading

De Nora completes one of the world’s largest produced water recycling projects

e Nora, a global leader in the delivery of sustainable technologies, is pleased to announce the completion of phase one of its Delaware Basin Wastewater Recycling Project, achieving aspirational produced water rates exceeding 140,000 barrels per day – a...

Wärtsilä to help modernise leading Nigerian food company power generation facilities

he technology group Wärtsilä will supply fuel-flexible dual-fuel engines to extend, improve, and modernise power generation for a captive power plant at Nigeria’s oldest and largest food and agro allied company, Flour Mills Nigeria. The company’s Lagos-based power plant is...

Reverse engineering: More than a practical and cost-effective solution

n the world of high-tech machinery, software or hardware for that matter, it often happens that purchasing a replacement part or component from an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is not an option. Also, amidst the persisting Covid-19 pandemic situation, many...