The new name in Haulage

In 2018, Bis Industries approached Cobalt with an innovative concept to revolutionise mine haulage.  The concept eventually became Rexx – a 20-wheel, long-range truck that is uniquely able to haul all the way from the pit to processing centres; eliminating double-handling and reducing the need for multiple fleets.

Once the vehicle’s core engineering and configuration was known, Cobalt was brought into the exercise to apply creative exterior and interior designs so that safety, usability and aesthetics matched the intelligent engineering.

The internal layout of the cab focuses on usability to ensure that each element’s position is strategically placed for efficient driver visibility and access (and for passengers when necessary).

Additionally, Rexx’s 13.6m turning circle, 4.8m width and multi-axle design allows it be more manoeuvrable in tighter spaces. This makes tougher projects possible without the need for a range of truck sizes. Its 20-wheel design allows 160 tonne loads to be efficiently transported at 60km/h for 35km, pushing it four times further than the range of a conventional dump truck.

With patented on-demand power, Rexx is also able to lower fuel consumption by up to almost half. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and delivers significant savings to operators.

OBJECTIVES

  • Maximise driver safety and usability for the cab design
  • Create an ergonomic yet space efficient interior controls layout
  • Optimise maintenance requirements
  • Create a tough and functional exterior, with an appropriate aesthetic treatment
  • Create an exterior with a distinctive and compelling visual identity, which still fits the markets expectation of being ultra-ruggedly and functional

DESIGN SOLUTION

  • Large format windscreen and side windows for increased visibility
  • Improved access and egress with a reduced 2.4m cab height
  • Adjustable pillar-mounted interior screens for optimal driver-view and improved personalisation
  • Minimal, open dash design to maximise driver view, and lessen obstructions
  • Bold, futuristic exterior design language

COBALT TASKS

  • Vehicle Design and Exterior Styling
  • Concept Design
  • CAD Modelling
  • Interior layout design
  • Prototyping – interior layout options
  • Ergonomics/usability testing of interior options

COBALT TEAM

  • Mark Matthews-Frederick
  • Graeme Marshall
  • Nathan Scanlon
  • Steve Martinuzzo

Mining Re-designed

For the exterior design we began by exploring potential design themes, opting for a sci-fi inspired aesthetic to move away from traditional dump truck styles. Sketching was then used as a tool to determine the best styling approaches and to create presentation-level concept sketches. Our in-house CAD modelling capabilities then detailed the design for all styling elements, sympathetic to production techniques and materials. A 1:30 scale model was also constructed as a marketing tool for vehicle launch events around Australia where the actual truck could not be present.

Using our vehicle interior design experience Cobalt developed a robust yet ergonomic, intuitive yet stylish driver cab. Our brief was to focus on maximising driver safety and usability, keeping in mind the harsh operating environment and rigorous use. Additionally, the truck’s heavy duty structural requirements had to be reimagined in such a way that integrated the exterior styling.

Cobalt focused on designing the space around the user, understanding it was crucial to consider the user experience to best design a functional and efficient interior space. By sketching concepts of layout alternatives, working closely with our client and creating physical mock-ups we were able to test and optimise the locations of screens, interfaces and controls, as well as check windscreen visibility.

Features of the interior include:

  • Main interface placed close to the steering wheel, with key functions (including ignition, park brake lighting, etc.) at the most accessible locations
  • Camera/touch screens positioned on the structural pillars. Adjustable fixings allow drivers to rotate/move the screens for personal preference
  • Shade hoods surround all screens to optimise viewing in all conditions
  • Emergency stop button placed away from the main interface, in order to avoid any accidental activation. Positioning however also makes it accessible to the passenger
  • Extra handrails positioned on pillars to aid entry/exit of cab
  • Radio positioned on ceiling for increased free space in dash area

Lastly, there was careful consideration of materials and manufacturing to ensure the interior carried through the theme of the futuristic exterior, but not at the detriment of usability characteristics, nor without adding undue cost to the vehicle. The space uses sheet-metal construction with poly-leather finishes on user-contact surfaces. These materials combine with medium-dark colours and textured finishes to reduce glare and withstand wear and the harsh operating environment.

Rexx was recently recognised as an “outstanding commercial outcome” when it won The Future of Mining 2019 Innovation Award.

All in field photography courtesy and © of Bis Industries.

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