Jul 10, 2014 - By Randy Tucker, Staff WriterImagine driving your local public swimming pool down the highway at 30 mph, and you have an idea of the size of Westech's water tanks. The huge vessels, ranging in size up to 75,000 gallons are used in open pit mining operations for a variety of purposes. They are true behemoths.
Westech of Casper is the world's leading designer of mining truck bodies (non-original equipment manufacturing), and a variety of water tanks. Its patent-pending stairway access water tankdesign incorporates a stairway system that descends into the bottom of the tank for ease of entry. It features a unique baffling design that reduces water movement in the huge tanks by 12 to 18 percent.
Considering the stress of a 55,000 gallon water tank with a payload of water weighing nearly half a million pounds in a moving vehicle, any reduction in motion is an improvement in safety and performance.
Westech chief engineer Rick Reynolds and his engineering staff design and test the new tanks using the latest in engineering software in the development of the stairway access tank.
Worker safety is enhanced through the use of openings in the baffles that allow workers to pass through easily. The stairway design is integral in the function of mitigating water movement.
"Safety is our No. 1 issue," Reynolds said.
The tank baffle opening design conjures up images of a submarine interior. The similarity to submarines doesn't stop there. The steel used in the construction of these tanks is selected specifically to meet Westech's demanding standards.
Westech tanks are custom designed to fit trucks offered by truck manufacturers such as Caterpillar, Hitachi, Komatsu and Liebherr.
The tanks routinely are used to transport and spray water over mining areas prone to heavy dust conditions, but they have been used for other purposes as well, including firefighting.
The tanks also increase the useful life of the haul chassis, a concern with companies that can pay $5 million for one truck. After years of hard work removing overburden, transporting coal, iron ore, bauxite or dozens of other mined minerals, the truck can continue to be used to haul water after its useful life hauling hard material has ended.
"It extends the investment of our customers," Westech North American sales manager Richard Peters said. "Hauling water isn't as stressful on an older machine as working in the mine can be."
Westech's tanks come in sizes from 14,000 to 75,000 gallons, depending on the weight rating of the truck it will be placed on.
For instance, a 220-ton class haul truck is rated to 440,000 pounds. Take the 8-pound weight of a gallon of water, multiply it by 55,000 gallons, and you have the exact 40,000-pound weight rating of the vehicle, maximizing the amount of water it can haul.
The immensity of the tanks is difficult to imagine. but if you were to park one of these and fill it with your garden hose it would take 71 hours at full pressure to fill it.
Water tanks complement Westech's core business of designing haul truck bodies. The company also designs cable reels, and front-end loader buckets of immense size at its plant along the North Platte River in Mills, adjacent to Casper.
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