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Allison equipped Zetros makes work easier for salt mining 600

Allison Transmission

BERNBURG, Germany – For over a year, an Allison-equipped Mercedes Zetros 1833 water transporter has run in esco’s Bernburg salt mine, where a rock salt deposit yields about 600 tons of salt each hour. During that time Volker Grzeschuchna, head of mechanical and electrical engineering underground at esco - european salt company, reached an easy conclusion. “We are entirely satisfied with the vehicle; it provides heightened driving comfort,” he confirmed.

A total of 146 production and specialty mining vehicles are used in the Bernburg salt mine, but the Zetros 1833 4x4 presented an interesting challenge. The water transporter would not have fit through the 2.9 x 2.5 meter mine shaft and was therefore split into two sections and lowered 380 meters on a hook. Once in the warm, dusty labyrinth of dark tunnels, the vehicle was welded back together and cutoff points strengthened with a batten in the esco-owned workshop. Then the 6,000 liter, stainless steel water tank with rear spray bar was mounted, and within a month, the Zetros began operating. Equipped with an Allison 3000SP fullyautomatic transmission, it replaced an IFA W50 4x4 built in the 80s and used for over 30 years. Expectations were even higher for the newcomer.

“We searched for an off-the-shelf vehicle to reduce costs. The vehicle had to feature a robust chassis, all-wheel drive and a fully-automatic transmission to cope with the difficult driving surfaces. A payload of at least seven tons was necessary: a six-ton tank capacity and an additional ton to account for the bodywork. The Mercedes Zetros with an Allison transmission was a good choice,” Grzeschuchna explained.

While water is necessary for drilling, spraying roads is one of the vehicle’s primary tasks since humidity in the Bernburg salt mine is quite low – only 25 to 30 percent. This reduces rusting, but also improves driver visibility which can become difficult because of a combination of dry air and the routine mining activities. Tractor shovels regularly drive blasted salt pieces to roll crushers. From the roll crushers, the salt is transported to a grinding mill to be sieved, producing salt for everything from the road to the table. This process can fill the tunnels with salt dust clouds as thick as smoke.

The Allison-equipped Zetros has a maximum speed of 50 km/h, but generally waters the roads at approximately 10 km/h, using its rear spray bar and covering about 400 kilometers per month. Additionally, it refills water containers within the entire 7.5 x 3.5 kilometer mining area, allowing removal of salt dust from vehicles and workers. Only used as required depending on dust exposure and container water levels – some days 10 hours, other days not at all – the vehicle operates in a three-shift-system.

Allison defies difficult terrain

Salt soil is hard and rough, challenging vehicles and operators with gradients of up to 20
percent. While the vehicle winds into narrow galleries and through pitch-black tunnels,
absolute alertness is essential. Robust underground mining vehicles with flawless drivability and easy handling are required. “There are off-road driving conditions underground. The Allison fully-automatic transmission is paying off, especially on inclines and slopes. It allows optimal vehicle control, even at low speeds,” Grzeschuchna said.

According to Thomas Weilbeer, esco’s giant-equipment instructor, the driver training is very simple. The Allison transmission is appreciated by the miners without exception. Each of esco’s 15 trained operators can fully concentrate on driving, while the transmission handles changing gears, automatically selecting optimal shift points.
Allison transmissions are designed to deliver superior performance, durability and minimal maintenance, reducing downtime and operating costs. The 326 HP Mercedes OM 926 LA engine with Allison 3000 Series fully-automatic transmission delivers excellent startability and acceleration. The torque converter multiplies engine torque at vehicle launch. Allison’s Continuous Power Technology™ with advanced electronic controls allows continuous power transfer during shifting for efficient operation and reduced driveline damage. The integral output retarder further enhances vehicle control over rough surfaces and reduces servicebrake heat and wear.

Will the Zetros see daylight again? “No. At least not in one piece,” said Grzeschuchna. “In 30 years at the earliest, it will be disassembled into individual parts and transported for scrapping.”

Mercedes Zetros 1833 4x4 water transporter


In line six-cylinder diesel engine OM 926 LA, Euro 5

Cylinder capacity

7,200 cm³

Engine rating

240 kW (326 HP)


1,300 nm at 1,200-1,600 rpm


Allison 3000SP fully-automatic transmission with integral retarder

Transfer gear-box

MB VG 1700-3W with off-road radio 1:1.69, two-stage

Length x Width x Height

7,782 x 2,497 x 2,988 mm


4,800 mm

Turning radius

20.6 m

Angle of repose

34 degrees

Empty weight

8,110 kg

Gross vehicle weight

18,000 kg


Stainless steel water tank built by Schrader with 6,000-liter capacity and rear spray bar


About esco - european salt company

esco, headquartered in Hannover, Germany, is the largest supplier of salt in Europe and a wholly-owned subsidiary of K+S group, one of Germany’s most important commodity companies. esco was founded in 2002 and employs about 1,300 people. The company has three rock salt mines, two brine plants and several evaporated salt facilities in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain, as well as numerous distribution sites. The annual production capacity is about 9.7 million tons of crystallized salt and salt in brine. esco’s largest rock salt mine operates in Bernburg, Saxony-Anhalt, where 450 employees produce nearly 2.5 million tons of rock salt, 1.4 million tons of brine and 280,000 tons of boiled salt annually. Two thirds of annual rock salt production relates to road salt. Additionally, special table salt, pharmaceutical, commercial and industrial salt, animal-feed salt and water softening products are manufactured.

About Allison Transmission
Allison Transmission is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully-automatic transmissions for medium and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, medium and heavy-tactical U.S. military vehicles and hybridpropulsion systems for transit buses. Allison transmissions are used in a variety of applications including on-highway trucks (distribution, refuse, construction, fire and emergency), buses (primarily school and transit), motor homes, off-highway vehicles and equipment (primarily energy and mining) and military vehicles (wheeled and tracked). Founded in 1915, the Allison business is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. and employs approximately 2,800 people. Regional headquarters with dedicated support staff are located in China, The Netherlands, Brazil, India and Japan. With a global presence in 80 countries, Allison has over 1,500 independent distributor and dealer locations. More information about Allison is available at

This press release may contain forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact contained in this press release are forward-looking statements. In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by terminology such as "may," "will," "should," "expect," "plans," "project," "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "predict," “intend,” “forecast,” “could,” "potential," "continue" or the negative of these terms or other similar terms or phrases. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve known and unknown risks. Factors which may cause the actual results to differ materially from those anticipated at the time the forward-looking statements are made include, but are not limited to: risks related to our substantial indebtedness; our participation in markets that are competitive; general economic and industry conditions; our ability to prepare for, respond to and successfully achieve our objectives relating to technological and market developments and changing customer needs, the failure of markets outside North America to increase adoption of fully-automatic transmissions; the discovery of defects in our products, resulting in delays in new model launches, recall campaigns and/or increased warranty costs and reduction in future sales or damage to our brand and reputation; the concentration of our net sales in our top five customers and the loss of any one of these; and labour strikes, work stoppages or similar labour disputes, which could significantly disrupt our operations or those of our principal customers. Although we believe the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based upon reasonable assumptions, we can give no assurance that the expectations will be attained or that any deviation will not be material. All information is as of the date of this press release, and we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to conform the statement to actual results or changes in expectations.

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Maren Szydlowski Miranda Jansen
geldermannKommunikation Allison Transmission Europe B.V.
Agentur für Public Relations Marketing Communications
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Aug 15, 2013

About Allison Transmission

Allison Transmission (NYSE: ALSN) is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles and is a leader in electric hybrid-propulsion systems for city buses. Allison transmissions are used in a variety of applications including refuse, construction, fire, distribution, bus, motorhomes, defense and energy. Founded in 1915, the company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA and employs approximately 2,900 people worldwide. With a market presence in more than 80 countries, Allison has regional headquarters in the Netherlands, China and Brazil with manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Hungary and India. Allison also has approximately 1,400 independent distributor and dealer locations worldwide. For more information, visit