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Going to extremes

June 5, 2015

The Dakar Rally is one of the world’s toughest off-road endurance races. Stage after stage competitors speed over mountain, valley, desert and coastline routes to win the coveted trophy.

From Argentina through Chile to Peru and back, the 13-stage 2011 Dakar Rally showcased stunning scenery and peerless cross-country driving.

Advanced energy solutions

Some years ago, KAMAZ commissioned an evaluation of its production sites by Atlas Copco. “We scanned KAMAZ’s energy consumption and, based on their true energy consumption, suggested machines that would offer the best possible solution,” says Andrey Martynov, Business Line Manager at ZAO Atlas Copco in Russia. The resultant changes included seven new Atlas Copco ZH compressor units. Shigapov says, “They apply the most advanced technologies, high-tech air compressing units and efficiency control systems.”

Decentralization of the compressed air supply system is the key element of the energy-efficient approach suggested by Atlas Copco. New energy-efficient ZH-series compressors and FD refrigerant dryers were installed. Overall, seven brand-new compressor units helped to significantly reduce energy consumption at KAMAZ.

The latest Dakar Rally was the 32nd on record. In 2011, for the third consecutive year, the race traversed the changeable landscapes of Argentina and Chile. More than 500 cars, motorcycles, quads and trucks battled for supremacy along the scenic, 9 500-kilometer (5 900-mile) route.

When the 2011 rally concluded in Buenos Aires, Vladimir Chagin of Russia mounted the podium for a record seventh victory in the truck division, becoming the race’s most successful driver in a single category. He drove a KAMAZ truck, which surprised no one; KAMAZ vehicles have won the truck class of the Dakar Rally a record ten times. In fact, of the top five positions for the truck division at the 2011 Dakar Rally, KAMAZ trucks finished one through four.

What’s the secret behind KAMAZ’s unparalleled achievements? Obviously, a superb driver and solid support team are necessities. Still, KAMAZ trucks’ dynastic dominance seem to be due to their continued technological improvements and innovative design. While factory models are the basis for the KAMAZ-Master trucks used for racing, these vehicles are not assembled on the ordinary assembly line; they are built in a special factory using Atlas Copco compressors and Atlas Copco tools for different parts of its assembly.

Originally built for the Soviet army, the first KAMAZ vehicles rolled off the main assembly line in Naberzhnye Chelny, Tatarstan, Russia, in 1976. Today KAMAZ heavy-duty models are exported all over the world, including Eastern Europe, Latin America, China, the Middle East and North Africa. With over 70 000 employees KAMAZ is currently the largest truck producer in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The company is also the world’s eighth largest producer of diesel engines.

At the KAMAZ factory in Naberezhnye Chelny, most of the tools prepared to meet strict regulations are supplied by Atlas Copco.

“For decades the world-class Atlas Copco equipment – compressor units, pneumatic tools, pneumatic and electric power tools – have best met our production needs,” says Islamgarey Shigapov, Deputy General Director and Technical Director of KAMAZ. “Our cooperation with Atlas Copco is very important.”

While KAMAZ enjoys its well-earned reputation as a manufacturer of rally winners, the company produces much more. Its current product portfolio includes more than 40 truck models with 50 basic modifications for diverse configurations, not to mention trailers, buses, tractors, engines and power units.

Written by Jean-Paul Small

Compressors Tools Europe Argentina Energy efficiency Chile Automotive Research and development South America Russia