Review: Hydrema 912ES compact dump truck
EVARN COVICH takes one of Danish company Hydrema’s 912ES compact articulated dump trucks for a spin, and finds it ticks all the boxes.
KNOWING a bit about Denmark’s Hydrema Group I was keen to try out the company’s German-made 912ES compact dump truck when one was made available recently.
Straight off I wasn’t disappointed — these trucks seem to be built robustly, with driver comfort and ease of operation at the forefront.
Although I was on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to check out the 912ES truck, I was fortunate enough that Blake Machinery Group managing director Cameron Blake had also supplied a 912HM model to look over.
The only major difference between the two trucks is that the HM has wider axles in order to accommodate larger wheels and tyres — hence the HM, or High Mobility, moniker.
Its lower ground pressure than the ES makes it more useful around areas with soft or swampy ground, or even on golf courses and other areas where you don’t want too much damage to the grass. Other than that both trucks are virtually the same.
On my initial walk around inspection of the 912ES the first thing to catch my attention was its size. With a width of around 2.5 metres with standard tyres, a wheelbase of a touch over 3 metres and a maximum height of around 2.8 metres it’s a very compact machine with the ability to manoeuvre around almost any construction site, big or small.
It’s a cute machine when you look at the large amount of glass on the operator’s cab, but the heavy duty robotic welding construction of the frame and tipping body also makes it look well engineered.
An easy-to-reach latch inside the chassis releases the engine cover behind the cab. It raises unassisted with the help of gas struts to reveal the engine and the daily serviceable items, which are all within easy reach.
The hydraulic and fuel tanks are located well out of harm’s way inside the chassis. Behind the front wheels are compartments housing batteries, etc, with room also to double as a toolbox. The covers are lockable.
Mounted to the chassis with liquid-filled supports to reduce vibration and noise, the Cummins QSB 4.5-litre engine is a 16-valve, common-rail, intercooled turbo diesel complying with stage 3b/4i emission standards.
It produces a maximum output of 141 horsepower (105kW) at 2000 rpm (9 percent more than its predecessor) with a maximum torque of 620Nm at 1500 rpm (an increase of 20 percent). This is claimed to be the highest power-to-weight ratio on the market in its class.
The ZF WG115 fully automatic transmission offers six forward and three reverse gears. The electronically monitored soft-shift transmission automatically shifts up two gears if the conditions are right, making acceleration quicker and smoother regardless of the payload.
The drivers also have the option of changing gears manually if they prefer.
The 912ES trucks use two hydraulic pumps. The first is a load-sensing unit that operates the steering and tipping functions (with priority being given to the steering), while the second operates the park and service brakes as well as the hydraulic stabilisers in the pivot.
Swivel tipping body
The 5.6-cubic-metre tipping body is constructed with robot-welded high tensile steel. I particularly like that the floor is constructed using flat panels, which helps if you are wanting to scoop material out of the back using an excavator with a flat bucket.
Being able to swivel the body 90 degrees to either side of the truck is an added bonus as you are able to drive along next to a trench while backfilling around pipes, etc. This saves a lot of time and money.
You can also activate the auto body return. What this means is, when the driver lets go of the joystick after putting it in the lower position it automatically returns the body to the correct position on the chassis. This also aids cycle times and keeps the driver’s attention focussed on what’s in front of him or her.
In the cab
The Hydrema 912ES series trucks have shock absorbers positioned at the back of the cab as close to the driver’s seat as possible in order to help with driver comfort. They also come standard fitted with ROPS and FOPS.
The cab has eight headlights — four mounted on the roof and another four mounted into the front bumper — as well as work lights mounted on the roof on each side of the cab and to the rear of the roof.
Coupled with the reversing lights on the rear of the truck, these make for excellent visibility while burning that midnight oil on nightshift.
There is also automatic entry and exit lighting, which shines down onto the step outside the cab for added safety, and a red light inside the cab to help illuminate controls at night.
The door handle is easily reached from the ground and the hanging step makes the climb into the cab rather effortless. I did, however, feel that maybe the door could be made to open a little wider in order to accommodate those who, like me, are a bit wider around the girth than most.
You do also have to be mindful of the position of the left-hand wing mirror as it is not hard to hit it with your head if you are a bit taller and not careful.
Once I settled into the driver’s seat I was able to appreciate the space inside the cab, including a generous amount of leg room. All controls and switches are within easy reach to the right of the driver and are clearly labelled and self-explanatory, including the joystick for operating the tub and selecting gears.
The steering column is fully adjustable, telescoping in and out and tilting up and down. The latter also moves the dash in order to provide the best view for the operator.
The large amount of glass provides for excellent vision around the whole cab, helped by Hydrema keeping the size of the dashboard and steering column to a minimum.
The wing mirrors are electrically heated and adjustable so that the drivers can create a perfect line of sight without having to leave the driver seat. There is also the added bonus of a reversing camera for added vision and safety.
With the large amount of glass on the cab of this machine you almost get the feeling of sitting in a glass house, and on the day of our test the temperature was tipping the scales at around 30 degrees.
Luckily I was able to keep the cab at a nice cool temperature throughout our trial. The air-conditioning units are semi-automatic so they will keep the temperature set constant but you have to control the fan speed manually.
The dash provides the usual data regarding speed, revs, temperature, fuel, etc, as well as load information. This Windows-based system has a data saving program, hire menu and a diagnostic tool. You’re able to use a USB to upload and download software and data.
On the job
Cameron Blake was able to organise a test drive of these machines on a sub division at Maleny in the beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland north of Brisbane.
The site had some steep gradients as well as some rolling hills and flat ground so we could perform a bit of off-road work as well as a bit of easy stuff. We couldn’t have asked for too much more.
I cranked the Hydrema 912ES into life and, after a few seconds, felt the slight jerk upwards as the electro-hydraulic front spring suspension system kicked into life. This system features independent suspension cylinders and level control for the front wheels to make for a more comfortable and stable ride.
I was impressed with the smoothness of the acceleration and, after doing a couple of laps around the work area to get a feel for the truck, I positioned myself under the excavator in order to be loaded.
With a blast of the horn from the excavator driver I was loaded and on my way to the dump area. To tell you the truth, the truck felt pretty much the same loaded as it did empty.
On arriving at the tip area I had to try out the swivel tip function didn’t I? So once I was in position I pulled back on the joystick to start putting the body up then also moved it to the right to start slewing the body around at the same time.
Before I knew it there was a load of dirt sitting right next to the truck. I could hardly feel any movement in the truck at all while the load was being tipped off at a 90-degree angle.
I can almost hear some of the dump truck drivers out there thinking, "I wish I could get one of those for that grumpy dozer or digger driver at work who always calls up on the two-way saying, ‘Mate ... you’re in the wrong spot, you need to move over a truck width!’ "
Anyway I performed a few more loads, experimenting along the way with driving loaded uphill and downhill, dumping while running the dirt out from the back and the sides and driving through various angles and pitches.
I felt that the truck seemed to respond to everything that I threw at it without too much effort and all the while feeling stable and comfortable to operate.
The bottom line
Having done civil work from subdivisions to pond and dam building, and from construction sites to dump maintenance and rehabilitation, it’s easy for me to see how a piece of equipment like the Hydrema 912ES compact dump truck can be utilised in almost any application to do with the earthmoving and construction industry.
With a 5.6 cubic metre body offering up a 10-tonne payload it probably finds itself in a bit of a niche market.
In the past onsite work performed by trucks this size would have to be carried out by six- wheeler road tippers or the like, but as we all know they do not perform too well once the ground starts to get chewed up or a shower of rain passes by.
The low ground pressure of these Hydrema trucks mean that they can run around your average site for a lot longer without chewing up the ground, and with the four-wheel drive and pivot steer they are able to keep running long after others have given up due to bad weather and conditions.
Other than having to take care of hitting my head on entry and exit to the cab I cannot really find anything that I am able to fault with this particular unit.
From the operator comfort to the stability of the ride, to the sturdy design and manufacture, to the Cummins engine and the soft-shift transmission — and let’s not forget the swivel tipping function — I feel that Hydrema has pretty much addressed everything required in order to produce a well-balanced truck that anyone would be happy to operate for hours at a time and that would be able to handle just about anything that the earthmoving industry can throw at it.
I’ll leave the last word to Graham Sayer, the owner of Sayer Civil who kindly let us use his worksite for the day to test these trucks.
He is the proud owner of a 912C series Hydrema compact dump truck that he bought around eight years ago and when I asked him if he thought the truck was a good buy his answer, without blinking an eye, was: "It’s one of the best investments I have ever made!"
They say that word of mouth is the best kind of advertising so when you speak to someone who is passionate about a product and has absolutely nothing to gain from it, you tend to take a little more notice than usual.
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