Excavator fleet increases output for Chinese market

Rock Trade Industries is ramping up its Waterfall Quarries operation in Helidon, 100km west of Brisbane, as the company copes with increased sandstone demand in domestic and global markets.

Kobelco excavators will play a major role in the sandstone venture, according to Rock Trade?s site senior executive, Allan Payne.
?Waterfall Quarries was a pre-existing operation in poor condition when we took over two years ago. We had to make the quarry more efficient and one of the ways we?ve done this is by looking at our equipment. Our Kobelco excavators are a big part of our plans to make this quarry more profitable,? said Allan.

?We did a lot of research and we?ve tested a lot of machines. We picked up a Kobelco SK250-8 excavator 18 months ago and we now have eight Kobelco machines.?

The quarry site has three Kobelco SK135SR excavators, four Kobelco SK350LC-8s and a SK250-8. It has six other excavators, but as sandstone output increases at the quarry, Rock Trade plans to standardise its fleet with Kobelco excavators.

Rock Trade has major expansion plans and is working on innovative sandstone recovery methods that it expects will increase its productivity eightfold within the next six years.

?Traditional recovery rates in sandstone mining and quarrying are quite low. We try to use all of the sandstone material and are looking at producing 100,000 tonnes a year in different sandstone products by 2016,? said Allan.

?In the next three to five years, we?ll need 18 machines. Kobelco excavators have the capacity to adapt to this type of quarry work. Quarry work is extremely hard and it sorts out the equipment that can handle it very quickly. The machines do a ?real? hour of work every hour.?
Allan said the Kobelco had also proven to be very productive.

?We moved from a competitor?s 33 tonne excavator to the Kobelco SK250-8 and it saved us about 35 per cent in operating costs for the same productivity. The other machine ran at a lot higher revs, while the SK250-8 was virtually idling doing the same job.

?The sheer power the Kobelco excavators create from the dual flow hydraulics has certainly impressed us.

?The SK135SRs are 35 per cent more productive for us, and five tonnes lighter than other brands we?ve tried with the same rock-grab attachment.

?In lineal metres, we?ve increased production between 25 and 30 per cent across the board that?s for bulking out, virgin ground and sawing. The excavators have exceeded all of our expectations.

?We have 16 operators working at the quarry and they all prefer to use the Kobelco excavators because they know they?ll meet their quotas using them.?

Allan said Rock Trade had managed to make large fuel savings, thanks to the efficiency of the Kobelco excavators.
?The SK350LC-8 uses 19 litres an hour less in fuel. The Kobelco is virtually paying for itself in fuel savings. When you?re working the machines 10 hours a day, the fuel savings are just enormous,? he said.

?For one specific job the SK135SRs are doing, we had been expecting to spend 200 litres of fuel each day per machine using 20 tonners in another brand we?d tried. But with the SK135SRs, we?re only using 85 litres a day. We thought we?d have to use the 20 tonners, but the 14 tonne SK135SR could do the same job. They?re miles better.

?Kobelco excavators have been the best value for money and good, reliable machines. They?ll certainly be part of our future,? said Allan.
Rock Trade has been exporting dimensional sandstone to China for the past 18 months and the company has also had interest in its product from Japan and England.

Its sandstone is sold in large blocks to the overseas market which is then cut down for building tiles and statues. Within Australia, sandstone is sold by Rock Trade Industries as boulders, gravel, road base, garden edging and steps. Dimensional sandstone blocks are also sold locally.

?Our overseas and domestic markets work hand in hand. We are very conscious to use all the sandstone we mine,? Allan said.
Kobelco is part of the global Kobelco CNH family. In Australia, Kobelco markets a range of compact, mid-size and full size excavators up to 85 tonnes.

Source: Kobelco CNH Australia/Hardman Communications

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