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Best on show at marquee event

With the day’s origins in the successful exhibition and demonstration conducted at the Townsville IQA annual conference in 2013, the Hunter sub-branch committee set about enhancing this experience. The committee also drew on the interactive reputation of Hillhead – the biennial trade show held at Lafarge Tarmac’s Hillhead Quarry in the UK – for this marquee event. The Hunter sub-branch organised two distinct operating and demonstration sessions. The second day was an “open to all” IQA morning at Boral’s Seaham Quarry. This article covers the first day’s live, interactive quarry demonstrations and trials.


Richard Tomkins was the quarry manager, at the time of the event, for Boral’s Seaham Quarry1. The quarry is located between the Pacific Highway and the town of Seaham, a couple of kilometres east of the Williams River, a tributary of the Hunter River. Tomkins is also a committee member of the Hunter sub-branch and has been an active and passionate member of the IQA for a number of years. The Hunter sub-branch has always been innovative in its approach to holding functions, whether technical sessions or site visits.

Tomkins drew on his own quarry personnel, as well as external Boral people, carrying out a “whole of project” risk assessment. Compliance and competency were two major concerns. Working closely with the equipment manufacturers, a joint approval process was developed to induct people on-site, confirm they were competent and ensure “safe work method statements” were followed and that Boral’s traffic management plan and communication protocol were adhered to. Pre-start inspections, operations and continuous communications were essentially the responsibility of the overseeing equipment manufacturing personnel.

A brief summary of the equipment involved from each supplier is presented below. There was one drill rig and one feeder/stacker system. The range of heavy mobile equipment pieces were not in competition; it was an opportunity to operate equipment in as natural a working environment as possible. The photos shown were taken over both days and are a representation of what was on show and the activities over the two days.


Atlas Copco displayed its SmartROC T40 surface drill rig. The T40 has been shown to reduce fuel consumption by up to 50 per cent through energy loss minimisation. There are 50 per cent fewer hoses and 70 per cent fewer couplings than on earlier rigs, reducing the risk of leakage. The Hole Navigation System, using a highly accurate GPS-based system, eliminates the need for holes to be marked on the ground. Atlas Copco’s service and drill supplies enhance an efficient machine that will lead to a much lower total cost of ownership.

Volvo Construction Equipment’s Australian distributor CJD Equipment supplied the Volvo EC480DL crawler excavator and the Volvo L250G wheel loader. The 48-tonne EC480D is designed for quarry applications, being able to cope with heavy digging and lifting duties. It is driven by a turbocharged, high-pressure, direct injection 13-litre diesel engine with maximum power of 256kW, which features an automatic idling system to reduce engine speed, aiding in fuel efficiency and lowering noise.

The 39-tonne L250G is fitted with a fuel-efficient, off-highway D13 engine for high torque at low rpm (maximum power of 1500 rpm). The machine’s Z-bar linkage allows for high breakout force for digging in hard materials. Its heavy-duty linkage, lift arms and cylinders also offer high lift capacity and rapid hydraulic reaction, resulting in quicker work cycles. For this event, the L250G was fitted with a 6.5cm3 rehandling bucket.


Hitachi provided a John Deere 844K II wheel loader, a John Deere 770GP motor grader and a Bell B30E articulated dump truck. The motor grader was on exhibition and was not trialled. The B30E has a 28-tonne rated payload, with 240kW of engine net power.

The K-Series wheel loaders from John Deere offer superior breakout force across all types of digging, with strong torque and powerful lift among the many features. Many customer-inspired enhancements are obvious, including spacious cabs, excellent visibility and quieter operation.

Komatsu’s HB335LC-1 hybrid excavator and HM400-3MO articulated dump truck were in action over the two days. The HB335LC-1 is the result of 10 years of research and development in hybrid excavators. This CCF Class 35 excavator has an operating weight of 35 to 40 tonnes. It uses hybrid technology to slew the machine via electrical energy. The resultant fuel savings are in the order of 20 per cent to 25 per cent. The development of this size unit is the result of requests from Komatsu’s Australian customers.

Komatsu’s HM400-3MO ADT can carry a true 40-tonne payload, monitored by a factory-fitted payload meter, maximising productivity while maintaining safe loads, with lower fuel consumption and enhanced serviceability. It is fitted with Komatsu’s Komtrax Step 4 System, which allows monitoring of the truck’s working conditions, fuel burn, productivity, payloads and cycle counts.

Ergonomically, the wrap-around dash and layout, along with reduced noise and improved cooling, provide enhanced operator comfort. With a six-speed K-Atomics automatic transmission and in-built Eco-Guidance function, the HM400-3MO’s operations are run efficiently, economically and with long life in mind. The HM400-3MO was also fitted with LSM’s SafetyTrax driver fatigue monitoring system and Doran tyre pressure monitoring system, with a wireless digital display.

Separate to the display equipment, Boral’s Seaham operation also has the first Komatsu WA600-6 to be bought in Australia – first delivered in 2005 and today boasting 22,000 hours of operation. It is still the main production loader of the quarry.

Liebherr Australia also took part in the demonstration and customer days at Seaham, demonstrating the efficiency of the Liebherr L566 wheel loader, which features a Liebherr 190kW engine and hydrostatic drive train, being the only one of its kind on the day. Compared with conventional transmission systems, the hydrostatic driveline with Liebherr power efficiency achieves a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 25 per cent, thus reducing operating costs and pollution with the latest Tier 4/Stage IIIB engine technology.


The Liebherr R936 LC hydraulic excavator was also on display. It is powered by a Liebherr 160kW engine and has an operating weight of 31 tonnes.

Tricon Mining Equipment provided the Telestack HF520 mobile bin feeder which fed aggregate to an 80-foot TC424XR tracked radial conveyor. The set-up was capable of stockpiling 14,870 tonnes of material completely automatically, at up to 400 tonnes per hour. The HF520 can be loaded directly by wheel loaders or excavators, eliminating the double handling of material. The TC424XR is ideal for stockpiling direct from primary crushers at the source, stockpiling from secondary crushers and screens, or working as part of a mobile circuit on short to medium term projects.

The Caterpillar 980K, supplied by Westrac, meets Tier 4 Interim/Stage IIIB emission standards while increasing operator comfort, as well as performance and productivity. Cat’s innovative C13 ACERT engine delivers increased power with maximum fuel efficiency, while complying with emission standards.

Similarly, the Caterpillar 336E L hydraulic excavator meets Tier 4 standards and is built for more productivity and comfort, less fuel consumption and emissions and easier and more sensible serviceability. The long undercarriage and track shoe-style allows for increased stability when working on uneven ground.

Separate to the display/trial units, Boral’s Seaham Quarry has a mix of Cat 775s and 772s as part of its production fleet. The 772s and 775Gs have been in operation since 2012, while some of the 775Es are more than 10 years old. The 772 has an updated traction control system and improvements in fuel use, noise reduction and operator comfort. The 775G has improved power, operator comfort, fuel usage and automotive-quality shifting.


Three to four months of risk assessments, hundreds of hours of planning, commitment and dedication to their industry, and this two day/two stage event came to fruition in late November. The Boral production personnel were exceptional on both days of operation, with Tomkins drawing on a range of quarry managers and personnel from other operations, in particular Brad Doyle and Neil Gascoyne, to assist before and during the event. Craig Stafford, the HSE adviser for the Boral Hunter region quarries, provided invaluable assistance throughout the planning process.


While the key IQA event on Friday was a much bigger deal, the day before there were suppliers coming and going, with and without customers, all while the quarry was still in production. The events of the day were possibly best summed up by Tomkins’ boss (at the time) James Collings, who is Boral’s metropolitan operations manager for quarries in NSW/ACT. When the comment “organised chaos” was tossed around, “very organised chaos” was Collings’ immediate reply.

While the photographs predominantly show the equipment operating, safety was paramount for all involved, at all times throughout the two days. Three of the local inspectors of mines were present on the second day, and they were all satisfied with the procedures put in place.

This was a co-operative effort involving the local IQA sub-branch, the producer (Boral) and major industry suppliers. The quarry personnel put in an enormous amount of time and effort, while the suppliers spent large sums of money bringing equipment to site, as well as coaxing potential customers and assisting in compliance and competency. At a time when many parts of our industry are struggling, this was a tremendous collaboration between all involved.
As has been noted elsewhere, a Hunter event is not for the faint hearted.

Jim Hankins is the chairman of the NSW branch of the IQA.


  1. Richard Tomkins was promoted to operations manager north coast within Boral prior to the publication of this article.

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