There are fewer harsher work environments for machinery than a rock salt mine hundreds of metres beneath the surface of the earth. But Cummins engines, expertly maintained by on-site Cummins technicians, have proved themselves more than up to the task for KGHM ZANAM, powering the Polish giant’s heavy-duty specialist mining equipment in conditions that are hot and corrosive.
The salt mines in question are in Poland and Germany, and they include the vast K+S Werk Zielitz mine in Saxony-Anhalt. K+S is one of the largest European suppliers of potassium and magnesium products and a global leader in salt production. Cummins-powered KGHM ZANAM equipment can also be found extensively in the copper mines of Rudna, Lubin and Polkowice in the Lower Silesian region of Poland, one of the world’s largest copper mining spaces.
The relationship between KGHM ZANAM and Cummins stretches back to a few years before the formation of Cummins Poland in 2004, and over the past decade Cummins has supplied the business with more than 1,400 engines. Fundamental to the relationship is the service support provided by the Cummins branch in Lubin, where the team of around 20 deals with more than 600 engines running every day up to 1,000 metres underground, a combination of loaders, dump trucks, support vehicles and drilling machines.
“KGHM ZANAM treats Cummins as a partner in its business, developing products with a close eye on emerging engine technology and working together closely to design and build products for the uniquely challenging environments in which they have to work. For example, we have developed solutions around wiring harnesses, alternators and starter motors to make our engines more robust in copper mines where the conditions are so difficult that the typical working life of a loader or dump truck might be only about five years” – said Paweł Stolecki, Senior Sales Representative Off-Highway at Cummins Poland. “This is a classic example of working things out locally and flexibly to cope with conditions that are far outside the scope of a standard warranty package” – he added.
Currently, KGHM ZANAM is looking seriously at how it can reduce its carbon footprint. There have been discussions with Cummins about the potential to integrate hydrogen fuel cell technology into its equipment, not an altogether straightforward task given the hot and confined spaces in which the machines typically operate.
Another example of the close cooperation between the two companies is the LD4 loader offered by KGHM ZANAM from 2023, which is powered by a Cummins engine with Stage V B4.5 specifications. The companies collaborated on the development of the equipment from 2021, carrying out extensive tests and trials on its prototype. Demand for such a loader can also be seen outside of Poland, which means it could be exported, and the Baltic states have already shown interest in the model.
“KGHM ZANAM relies on innovations and knowledge-based development to manufacture its machinery and equipment” – said Bernard Cichocki, President of KGHM ZANAM Management Board. “As one of Poland’s largest manufacturers for the mining sector, we always look to cooperate with leading manufacturers and suppliers who share the same values and show the same level of commitment to help us deliver our wide range of high-quality equipment” – he adds.
In addition to Lubin, Cummins has three more branches in Poland, strategically located in Kraków, Gdańsk and Łomianki near Warsaw to be easily accessible to customers from across the country and other European countries. The company began operations in Poland nearly 30 years ago and is now working to expand its operational capabilities with a state-of-the-art high-powered engine rebuild centre being built in Krakow.
The USD 10m investment will provide Cummins customers across the region with strategic support for specialist engine rebuild processes and better service to local partners in Poland through significantly increased distribution and warehousing capabilities. The new facility will be operational by the end of the year and will be the company’s first of its kind in Europe.