A still from a video showcasing the electric version of the Western Star 4900XD haul truck. Credit: YouTube/Carl Michener
As W.P. Kinsella once wrote, “build it and they will come.” That’s pretty much the story with the truck that MEDATech is building in collaboration with Tardif, a Western Star Dealer for the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, and super-fast charging with ABB.
Configured with a dump box for open pit mining haulage, it could just as easily be a crane truck, a water truck, a winter plow truck or any other service-type vehicle — because it’s an all-electric version of the classic Western Star 4900XD.
“We took out the diesel powerplant and replaced it with our fully electric ALTDrive system designed for heavy off-road equipment,” explains Robert Rennie, president of MEDATech. “We and Tardif have invested in building this truck because we believe it is simply a better way of getting heavy work done in our world today. There are no government handouts involved.”
The truck is configured to continuously output almost double the torque of the original diesel engine. With companies like Teck Resources and Anglo American lining up to test the 4900XD, the interest in electrifying heavy machinery is there. Rennie points to a seismic shift underway that can only make the world a better place to live.
“The Arctic reached 104 degrees in July 2020, California and Australia were ravaged by forest fires. . . Industrial diesel engines are a major part of the global warming problem,” notes Rennie. “We know it, our clients know it and a lot of them are looking at doing something about it.”
To build the 4900XD, MEDATech teamed up with Tardif Diesel, a Western Star and Freightliner dealer in Quebec. Jean-Marc Tardif is a visionary who is always looking for new ways to solve old problems.
“Like MEDATech, we are determined to be part of the electric revolution,” says Tardif. “Together, we are at the vanguard of all-electric heavy-duty truck manufacturing, which is exactly where we want to be. What we are witnessing today is just the beginning of a wholesale change.”
The ALTDrive system is powered by advanced onboard lithium/ion batteries that can be charged in two ways: via connection to the grid, or through regenerative braking, which is often a big part of the XD4900’s power dynamic. In collaboration with leading global technology company ABB, MEDATech Engineering is introducing fast-charging capability for the XD series trucks — significantly more efficient than battery swapping in terms of both cost and logistics.
With over 10 years’ experience in providing charging infrastructure, ABB was a logical choice of partner. Nic Beutler, global product manager for power systems and infrastructure solutions at ABB, is excited about the work his company is doing with MEDATech.
“We already have fast charging stations up to 450 KW widely available for buses, both in North America and Europe,” says Beutler. “A heavy equipment fast-charging system will be built to fit challenging environmental mining site conditions and allow for minimized charging times. It will be the next evolution in fast charging.” Beutler emphasizes four system strengths: safe operation through improved connection and charging process, charging that matches the rhythm of mining operations, open standards for interoperability across vehicle types, and intelligent planning and management for optimum grid design.
Configured as a haul truck, the 4900XD harnesses the power of regenerative braking on the way down slopes, saving the brakes and providing significant battery recharge — sometimes all the charge required for continuous operations. The result is an all-electric truck that performs the heaviest work in the world, around the clock. With a 24-ton capacity, it has 310 kWh of onboard stored energy, 100kW onboard charging and is fast charging-ready.
Eliminating heavy diesel is especially important underground, where removing heat and exhaust by means of ventilation is a major capital and operational cost. In one recent study, a Goldcorp electrification pilot project realized operational savings of over $1.5 million by halving ventilated air volume requirements. At the same time, they improved health and safety through better air quality.
For the last sixty years, heavy diesel has been the power source of choice for underground mining. Before that, miners relied on electric locomotives and extensive cabling systems. Now the pendulum is swinging back. . . untethered.
To view the truck introduction video, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCqIMX9cU8o.
MEDATech has been designing and building custom mobile heavy equipment since 2003. It provides machines that are more efficient, safe, durable, precise and environmentally friendly to clients in the mining, construction, waste, transportation, and energy sectors.
MEDATech has three divisions:
- Engineering services – from consulting to engineer/design/build to industrial software development;
- ALTDRIVE – all-electric powertrains; and
- BORTERRA – advanced drilling equipment.
MEDATech’s engineers have worked in mines and in other industries where they operated the kinds of heavy equipment the company builds. This has allowed MEDATech to become experts in building great machines, and in consulting on the solutions clients need.