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John Deere Challenges Andes Mountains


By Mark S. Kuhar

This past May, engineers from John Deere traveled to the Atacama Desert Region of Northern Chile to test the performance of the 460E Articulated Dump Truck (ADT) at high altitude. The mountains of Chile are filled with active mining sites that need the hauling capacity of the 460E ADT. Engineers worked to ensure the truck would perform reliably at this extreme altitude as well as exceed customers’ expectations in the rugged mountains.

John Deere identified a Chilean mine site at high elevation that would provide a challenging work environment for the ADT. Once a site was chosen, the ADT was shipped from the U.S. to Iquique, Chile, on a cargo ship. When the truck arrived in port, it was transported to the mine site located approximately four hours from the coast, deep into the Andes Mountains.

The 460E ADT was introduced in North America with the John Deere 13.5L engine, but the high altitude of Chile holds unique challenges. Preliminary testing took place in Colorado at 10,000 ft. to better understand the potential challenges the extreme altitude of the Chilean mountains may present.

During the testing in Chile, the ADT did numerous performance and cold start tests, and conquered a 16,000-ft. mountain to prove its extreme capabilities. The team left Chile with a better understanding of the high altitude demands on equipment, as well as some product changes that will ensure the 460E ADT will excel in the demanding environments of South America.