“I was driving a road train when suddenly the vehicle became bogged in fine dust,” Clarke recalls. “As the wheels sunk deeper into the sand, I came up with this theory that if I chained up one of the wheels and then raised the air bag suspension ride height, I’d be able to lift that wheel off the ground, which ended up working.
“I then repeated the process for each of the other drive wheels, lifting them out of the sand. Each time a wheel came out, I placed a gate from the camel crates under each of them to act as bog mats. That’s pretty much where the Air Tip idea came from.”
Finding solutions for any situation or problem has always come naturally for Clarke, a geophysicist by trade. “I’ve travelled to some of Australia’s most remote mining sites doing mine exploration and a lot of those times I kept thinking about ways to address one of the biggest costs in the mining process – transport,” he explains. “I didn’t like the standard, bulky designs of most side-tippers on the market. In fact, I wanted to create a more efficient, less complicated design that would eliminate the use of a hydraulic system.”
After extensive researching and tests, Clarke devised a new and innovative, air-operated side tip trailer called the Air Tip, a monocoque design that increases strength, according to Clarke.
“The system operates using the same air pressure used for the vehicle’s brakes,” he says. “It uses compressed air at 110 psi, which also has OH&S and environmental benefits as opposed to hydraulic technology that requires much higher pressure up to 2000 psi. There’s no longer a need to use power take-offs, hydraulic pumps, oil tanks and hydraulic oil.”
According to Clarke, the Air Tip trailer can now deliver a payload increase of up to three per cent for the fleet operator. “It’s a significant leap forward for side tipping trailers used in transporting bulk materials by road, since the Air Tip technology can lower the tare weight of the trailer body to allow a significant increase in potential payload. In today’s business climate, these are important factors for both transport companies and end users,” he concludes