In northern Russia’s Siberian region, MAN trucks prove their excellence in conditions of low sub-zero temperatures, black ice and deep snow. They demonstrate that even wintry off-road operations still have potential for increased efficiency.
A sailor’s true quality is tested in bad weather – and the same applies to good drivers. But in Siberia’s open wastes, where temperatures fall on average to minus 30° Celsius and snow lies a metre deep, even the most experienced driver will struggle without reliable technology. Contracted to expand a wide network of oil production plants in the taiga wilderness of Siberia, the Russian construction company SIBITEK therefore equipped itself with 86 all-wheel-drive dump trucks made by MAN. These vehicles transport about 20,000 cubic metres of sand to the well pads every day, travelling along frozen swamp tracks.
SIBITEK was the first company to initiate a new 8x8 all-wheel-drive TGS for operations in northern Russia. Working with MAN, the customer developed a customised solution with two 16-tonne rear axles, 325/95R24 wheels and a D26 engine with 480 hp. This design allows for an increase of load capacity by seven tonnes as compared to the 6x6 dump truck, while retaining its handling characteristics and similar operating consumption.
Mr Maigov, why did you choose the MAN product brand?
Five years ago, we decided to switch to European dump trucks. We’d previously used Chinese trucks, but that didn’t work out well in our challenging off-road conditions. So we analysed the market, compared suppliers from all over Europe and came to the conclusion that MAN had the longest history in this field. MAN simply has the greatest experience in this area – after all, it was the first company to build 6x6 all-wheel-drive powered machinery.
How did SIBITEK actively participate in the process of developing the trucks?
First introduced at the bauma 2013 trade fair, the 8x4 truck made by MAN was an exclusive 50-tonne vehicle produced for Chile. I calculated that 16-tonne axles and 325/95R24 wheels would create a load-carrying capacity of 32 tonnes. And then at the trade show I made arrangements with MAN to upgrade the Chilean model to an 8x8x 50-tonne vehicle.
When were you able to deploy the first MAN trucks?
The first five 8x8 trucks set off on their long journey to Siberia in 2014, with 38 additional vehicles joining them later.
Mr Nurgaliev, what do you particularly like about MAN trucks?
I’ve been driving for SIBITEK for two years now. During off-road operations, we often encounter black ice and have to cope with challenging road conditions, and in the summer we get bogged down in swampy areas. MAN trucks are very stable and able to handle cross-country terrain. I know that I can rely on this vehicle in all types of driving conditions.
Were you given special training to be able to operate these trucks under such extreme circumstances?
Yes. Weekly training sessions are designed to teach us how to determine optimal speed and how to correctly deploy slip differentials. These locks ensure that the wheels keep their spin, so they don’t lose driving torque.
You usually spend 10 hours a day at the wheel. Which amenities would you like not to have to do without?
The cab’s very spacious and perfectly equipped for the driver. It features full temperature-controlled air and heated seats and arm rests. I’d like to keep that kind of luxury!
Images © Frank Herfort