Maintenance Products

Versatility for small-scaled operations

Often constrained by the size of their operations, small quarry owners need mobile equipment that is hallmarked by versatility.

Few smaller quarry operations can warrant or afford a specialised wheel loader for face loading duties and another to feed the crusher or for sales loading and stockpile management tasks.

Face loading demands rugged strength, with the specification requiring a highly durable frame and loader structure, high torque engine and a hydraulic system capable of delivering powerful breakout and lift forces in extreme applications.

The same wheel loader will often also need to be equipped to manage sales loading or stockpile management tasks calling for precise hydraulic control, a reliable transmission for smooth directional shifts and an operating station designed for reduced fatigue.

Choosing a machine with the right specification is paramount, from the bucket shape and build to the selection of tyres. For a small quarry, every feature needs to ensure versatility and productivity is delivered.

When Geelong-based independent quarry and concrete company Local Mix put together a specification for a new wheel loader, they were looking for a machine versatile enough to manage face loading, crusher feeding and scalps management tasks, but with the finesse to perform in sales loading operations at their Anakie hard rock quarry.

As the quarry?s main wheel loader, they needed a specification that delivered multi-tasking seamlessly – able to load a 50 tonne haul truck one minute and a road truck the next.

Quarry manager Garry Barclay said Local Mix undertook an extensive evaluation process before choosing the Caterpillar 980H.

When contemplating such a disparate specification, Local Mix believed a demonstration was the only way to analyse product offerings up close and Victorian Cat dealer William Adams duly obliged.

?It is the only way to really test a machine,? Garry Barclay said. ?Caterpillar didn?t muck around and got a machine out here and now we have a new 980H working here. We have everything we needed from a specification point of view and it has proven to be the right package,? he said.

As one of the key items of plant in the company?s Anakie basalt quarry, an hour south of Melbourne, the 980H is now cakey component of a fleet incorporating 35 tonne and 50 tonne haul trucks, a 45 tonne excavator and a sales loader – an ever reliable Cat 972G.

The quarry supplies about 40 per cent of its production to Local Mix?s own ready mix concrete plants in the Geelong area, with the balance of production, including concrete aggregate, scalps and a range of screenings, to external sales.

Often needed to relieve the excavator in face loading duties in the tough but low-abrasion basalt, Mr Barclay was keenly interested in the new 980H?s power, lift frame and bucket offerings.

He specified a heavy duty straight edge 6.1m3 bucket armoured with the Cat bolt-on adapters and K Series ground engaging teeth – the same bucket needed to be comfortable loading a 9.1m road truck body without spillage or damage.

?The bucket just fits into a 9.1m tipper but it does the job and does it safely and that is something we took into consideration when we specced it,? Mr Barclay said.

The demonstration machine had initially proven what Mr Barclay expected of the configuration – and more. ?The demo machine had a straight edge bucket and bolt-on edges and that machine dug at the face with ease,? he said.

?It proved that we didn?t need to go to a spade nose bucket and weld on teeth because if we upgraded to a 988H next time then I?m left with a machine that would be no good for sales.

?I also needed it to do a four to five pass load on the 50 tonner as hauling from the face to the primary crusher at the moment is a 1.6 kilometre round trip and we are averaging 180 tonnes per hour through the primary crusher,? Mr Barclay explained.

?When it moves back to the primary area I have 400 to 500 tonnes per day of scalps to move to stockpiles and at the moment we also have more sales trucks coming through than normal, which the 972 can?t handle on its own.?

The 980H impressed with its lift frame, particularly the dual-lift arms. ?If you look at the competitors, they only have one tilt cylinder and I don?t like all that force going into one spot on the bucket – I like to have it spread over an area,? Mr Barclay said.

While its high lift configuration would have delivered greater side body dump clearance loading on the 50 tonne haul truck, it would have required selection of a different bucket for the stockpile and load and carry tasks, he explained.

?The Cat hydraulic system, loader frame and buckets are all proven over many, many years and you won?t have any problems with the frame or pivot points.

?It has also got a very heavy final drive and front and rear axle configuration and I believe the breakout force is pretty much above any other comparable machine on the market.

?Also notable is the wheel torque. I reckon the 980H has got more wheel torque than any Cat loader I?ve known.?

Specified with heavy duty application L5 tyres to ensure durability when face loading, Mr Barclay said the machine travelled exceptionally well, retaining loads at higher speed because of the good rack back angle and not ?rocking and rolling? due to the optional Ride Control system.

?Does it make a difference?? he asked rhetorically. ?We wouldn?t have a machine without Ride Control, that?s how much difference it makes – it is one of the best things that has happened to the industry!?

From a power perspective, Local Mix liked the power offered by the C15 ACERT technology 260 kW engine. ?That?s a proven engine with great credentials and it has commonality on filters with our other machine,? Mr Barclay said.

It is also delivering on predicted fuel economy and features many fuel efficiency measures. ?After it has been idling for a minute, the electronic idle management system will cut the idle back to a lower rpm.?

To further boost the operation?s productivity, its automatic greasing system was specified. ?We run four men and myself here and that includes us doing the drilling and blasting, and we are crushing from 6:00am to 5:00pm so we need to maintain our efficiency,? Mr Barclay explained.

?We knew if the machine was greasing itself every day that would be one less thing the operator would have to do.

?The other thought is environmental – some managers will say ?grease while you are fuelling up?, but you will always have spills. If you are in a rush trying to get from point A to point B, that is when accidents happen,? he said.

The biggest feature of the new 980H for Local Mix is that it is delivering on productivity. With about 500 hours now on the clock at the busy independent?s site, the 980H is delivering the versatility needed in a durable platform.

Whether it is relief loading at the face, sales loading road transport or moving scalps, overburden or topsoil around, the 980H has delivered as expected.

?From a productivity and versatility perspective it is a great loader,? Mr Barclay said. ?Make no mistake about it.?

Source: Caterpillar Australia

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