When it comes to moving heavy loads efficiently over rough terrain, there's no substitute for an offroad dump trailer. These special-purpose vehicles can often be found working around the clock in remote areas. Upper Austrian manufacturer Benzberg has made it its mission to design and build especially rugged equipment for the industrial and civil engineering sectors. Together with B&R, they have developed a modular new controller that opens up exciting new potential applications.

Herbert Schneeberger
Founder and CEO, Benzberg

"We were particularly impressed by the robust performance of B&R's products under such extreme conditions. Working with B&R was harmonious, productive and came very naturally. As a family business, the friendly atmosphere was very welcome."

For customers in the heavy-duty offroad transport sector, the pain point is clear: There is not a vehicle on the market that can meet such challenging operational requirements under such extreme environmental conditions without extensive service and high maintenance costs. Benzberg founder and CEO Herbert Schneeberger realized this, and when the company reformed six years ago, his mission was clear: to design and build custom solutions for heavy-duty transport with a clear focus on the real-world needs of their users.

The Upper Austrian dump trailer manufacturer has its headquarters in the town of Schörfling am Attersee, as well as component production in Fornach and an assembly plant in Liezen, with approximately 65 employees in total. Nearly 70% of Benzberg's revenue comes from special-purpose vehicles, with the remaining 30% comes from dump trucks for civil engineering.

The X90 module allows operators to continuously monitor the status of mobile equipment. Condition monitoring can increase machine availability and reduce the considerable cost of outages and unplanned service calls. (Source: B&R)

X90 mobile control module

New B&R controller for heavy equipment

Transporting heavy loads over rough terrain requires specially designed axles and hydraulic systems. Together with trailer hitch manufacturer Scharmüller, Benzberg created a modular axle design that ensures driving comfort while at the same time maintaining stability and preventing rollovers.

To implement high-precision slope compensation, Benzberg sought a partner to build a new controller. "We were looking for an engineering partner we could build a new prototype with, and B&R came highly recommended," says Schneeberger. "After careful consideration, we decided to make the switch from our previous supplier. When collaborating on a joint project, geographic proximity is also especially important – and here, too, B&R was the perfect choice."

The joint project

The requirements for the new controller were clearly defined – the components would need to be modular, extremely robust and resistant to dirt, water and elevated temperatures. They would also need to be easy to maintain anywhere in the world. "It was a fascinating collaboration for us," recalls Bernhard Schmidthammer, sales manager at B&R. "As pilot customers, Benzberg and Scharmüller worked with us to develop a new product. It was a perfect combination that brought together a great deal of know-how from a variety of disciplines."

The project team comprised two engineers each from B&R and Benzberg/Scharmüller. Starting in December of 2016, they met every two weeks over the course of six months to ensure steady progress through the step-by-step development milestones. After that came eight weeks of commissioning and around 3,000 hours of offroad testing, followed by two weeks to fine-tune the programming based on the test results.

From left to right: Bernhard Schmidthammer (B&R), Herbert Schneeberger (Benzberg) and Josef Joachimbauer (B&R) in front of a Benzberg dump truck. (Source: B&R)

Conceptual design to series production

Slope compensation control is handled by the B&R X90 control system, operated from a touch screen display. The solution also features a weighing system and GPS monitoring. The weighing system displays the load volume and offers a considerable improvement in efficiency through more accurate invoicing and detailed reporting. GPS monitoring has become a standard feature on many construction vehicles. Not only does this allow them to be located, it also makes it possible to track their movement, record their hours of operation and define their service intervals.

"Construction of the prototype is complete – the remaining 10% involves the co-rotating drive axles," says Schneeberger. "At that point, we will have met all the targets we set at the beginning of the project and we'll be ready for series production."

The project was a fascinating challenge for everyone involved – which made all sides appreciate the successful cooperation that much more. "We were particularly impressed by the robust performance of B&R's products under such extreme conditions. Working with B&R was harmonious, productive and came very naturally. As a family business, the friendly atmosphere was very welcome," says Schneeberger.

Series production of the new dump truck is set to start in 2018. By then all of Benzberg's 2, 3 and 4-axle vehicles will have the same software – ready for customers to configure their vehicles according to their specific requirements.

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