For many projects, the first step in ensuring a successful build starts with geotechnical investigations, a service provided by specialist engineering companies such as Black Insitu Testing (BIT) and their high-tech testing trucks.
Based in Melbourne but servicing all parts of Australia, BIT has recently added a new IVECO ML150 Eurocargo 4x4 to its fleet and equipped it with a specialised body by Geomil from the Netherlands, which equips the vehicle to perform various types of testing including Cone Penetration Testing.
The 15 tonne truck is fitted with hydraulic rams that push rods into the ground to a depth of up to 40 metres depending on the soil types. Each rod is a metre long and the operator gradually adds rods as the earth is penetrated.
At the tip of the first rod is the cone which is fitted with sensors that collect several measurables like tip resistance, sleeve friction or pore water pressure and transfers them to an on-board computer allowing the operator to analyse and record the data.
From this data, BIT’s Geotechnical Engineers can make recommendations to clients with regards to structure footings, slope stability, soil settlement prediction and more, ensuring that there are fewer chances of delays and additional costs once building starts.
BIT Director, Nick Schofield, said that as a cab chassis the IVECO Eurocargo 4x4 had all the requirements for the application.
“We needed a vehicle that would work well off-road and the Eurocargo 4x4 is definitely designed to go off-road with excellent clearance to traverse rough terrain, this clearance also provides the space for the technicians to access the cones under the truck,” he said.
“Should we require traction the truck also has front, centre and rear differential locks, we figured that if the Victorian CFA (Country Fire Authority) had recently bought 50 units, they must be a good vehicle. And in fact we did inspect one of the CFA units prior to ordering ours.”
While most truck customers want a vehicle with low tare weight, for this application heavy is best, especially when trying to push rods into the ground against the truck’s own weight.
For this reason the truck features steel ballast between the Eurocargo’s chassis as well as at the base of the body. To allow for more accurate data collection, the truck is also equipped with hydraulic lifters at each corner of the body, this ensures that the vehicle is completely level once testing begins.
Nick said that with Tector engine and its 279hp of power and up to 950Nm of torque available, the Eurocargo was a pleasure to drive.
“The Eurocargo is used in all sorts of environments, from urban to metro-regional and we also drive longer distances interstate so it’s important that the truck is comfortable and easy-to-drive,” he said.
“The six-speed manual transmission shifts smoothly and the truck is very stable on the road, all the operators have given very positive feedback on its performance.”
While the Eurocargo 4x4 won’t amass huge kilometres of travel each year, it will accrue high engine hours as the vehicle’s probing rams operate using the PTO, nonetheless BIT expect that the truck will remain in service for around 10 years.
“It’s nice to have a new truck, most of the sites we access have high OH&S requirements and this unit obviously performs well in that regard,” he said.
“The Eurocargo is now on its second major project and we’re very impressed with it.”
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