Industry News

Contract crushing in the valley

SC Heinrich & Co is a family-owned and operated company that has been servicing the Clare Valley region’s earthmoving, transport and quarrying requirements for more than 62 years. Clare Valley is located in South Australia’s mid-north, 140km north of Adelaide. The company began trading in 1954 under the late Stan Heinrich, who retired after 50 solid years in the business.

“My father started off with a stationary plant,” Stan’s eldest son and current managing director Malcolm recalled. “He actually built it from scratch back in 1964. It was an extremely small crushing plant, with a little jaw and a little cone crusher.”

Malcolm and other sons Robert and Andrew Heinrich succeeded Stan Heinrich in 2004. In turn, Malcolm’s children Carly, Sally-Anne, Samuel and Alexander have supported them, and the company today has over 20 full-time employees.

The company owns and manages up to nine quarries, comprising of hard rock quarries, rubble pits and sand pits throughout South Australia’s mid-north and the adjacent Yorke Peninsula. The pits’ reserves include high quality deposits of blue metal, blue dolomite rubble, white rubble, sand, loam and riverstone, amongst a variety of aggregates. In turn, SC Heinrich’s depot in Clare stores a broad range of end products, including concrete gravel and sand, quarry sand, white sandstone/quartzite and blue dolomite rubble, brickies sand and plaster sand.

“While we have around nine leases, we only operate our quarries on a campaign basis,” Malcolm Heinrich explained. “Our pits are not huge on the broad scale of quarries but for our area they’re a reasonable size output for what we do.

“In our own quarries, our biggest resource is 20mm and 40mm road base. We obviously make aggregates and quarried sands, pretty much a broad spectrum of whatever the quarry can produce. Some of our campaign leases are just purely road-based leases, where we do a lot of agricultural and council work, where some of our products in the limestone pits are running a 40mm road base and a 75mm road base.”

Contract crushing

Apart from operating its own quarries, SC Heinrich has long provided earthmoving, contract crushing and heavy haulage services to other quarry and mining businesses, local government, vineyards and farms throughout the region. In particular, the company has built many of the Clare Valley’s irrigation dams, the largest with a capacity of 200 megalitres.

“We don’t just run our own quarries, we actually go around and do local government and agriculture jobs, where we crush on-site for other people as well,” Malcolm Heinrich said. “It’s not all just about our quarries, it’s that we go into so many other people’s quarries and crush as well. That’s the beauty of all this mobile plant, we can go anywhere and crush for anyone.”

According to Malcolm, SC Heinrich does complete wet hire for its customers. “We run it all with our own staff and equipment, including loaders and excavators, and our own fuel. A lot of our work is bulldozers pushing up the material, so we supply those services as well. We do on occasions put a dry hire machine out to people that we trust 100 per cent but in our business we prefer to look after our machines ourselves and keep it all running in-house.”

SC Heinrich also insists on uniformity with its plant and equipment. “We run on this theory through our whole business that you get a better back-up service because you’re dedicating yourself 100 per cent to a supplier,” Malcolm Heinrich said. “For example, we have all Scania trucks, and all Caterpillar machinery, and we just don’t deviate from that at all. We stock everything according to those brands. We see no reason to swap from the three brands. Scania trucks are very good, Caterpillar earthmoving machinery is the benchmark and Finlay is, according to us, second to none.”


As SC Heinrich’s quarries are run on a campaign basis and the company does many contract crushing jobs, Malcolm Heinrich said it was hard to quantify exactly what the company’s output was per year. “I’d have to ask our admin staff!” he laughed. “We crush so much for other people, our plants are in and out of our quarries. In our quarries alone, we would produce comfortably up to a couple of 100,000 tonnes a year. I guess we could probably do anything up to 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes a year for councils, agriculture and other quarries. We crush big volumes for about seven councils, anything from 5000 tonnes up to 100,000 tonnes, all with the same plant. Our own quarries added up all together probably aren’t our majority of works for our crushing machines.”

SC Heinrich’s growth and degree of movement within a 200km radius today, Malcolm Heinrich said, would not have been possible without the advent of track-mounted crushing and screening plants in the 1990s. Stan Heinrich and the family company back then realised the potential of being able to operate well beyond the confines of fixed crushing and screening plant, as well as its own quarry operations.

“We started off with some basic smaller plant, some of which were handmade jobs really that were too hard to maintain,” Malcolm Heinrich recalled. “As we grew, we acquired a couple of bits of mobile gear on tracks but what sold us was when we came across Han Alam [the sales manager for Finlay Screening and Crushing in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania] about seven years ago.

“Han showed us some brochures of a [Terex Finlay] C-1540 cone crusher and it had a pre-screen on the same frame so we could feed direct to the cone. The pre-screen would scalp the fines off and only the rock would go into the cone and it would then come out as a combined product at the end. That concept really appealed to us, particularly for a lot of our local government work, where we don’t have to have a screened product, we can get away with something that just comes straight out of the cone.

“So we bought one of the C-1540 cones with a pre-screen. It was the pre-screen that sold it for us. It was the only crusher on the market at that time with a pre-screen, so we hooked it up to our jaw and we went off crushing at phenomenal rates to what we were used to and it was very easy to set up. So you just park it up, put the jaw in front of it and you’re crunching.”

Impressed by the mobile cone’s performance, it was not long before the company bought its first Terex Finlay J-1175 mobile jaw crusher. The J-1175, in tandem with the C-1540, helped to increase SC Heinrich’s output. As the company received more inquiries for work, so it bought more equipment to meet demand. Out of a fleet of 12 Terex Finlay units on tracks today, SC Heinrich has purchased three additional C-1540 cone crushers with added pre-screens, three screens and three J-1175s, two of which incorporate a pre-screen on the jaw’s frame.

“From our first J-1175 with a basic feeder to the jaw with the pre-screen on now, it’s chalk and cheese,” Malcolm Heinrich said. “I keep telling Finlay that I will not buy another crusher without a pre-screen on it. The pre-screens are just fantastic.”

He added that the pre-screens have been invaluable for the company’s local government assignments. “For a lot of our work, we can produce a non-screen 30mm or 40mm rubble because the pre-screen takes out most of the oversize. We’ll put a 20mm or 30mm machine mesh in, which goes straight up on to the output belt, and then within the clean rock we adjust the cone to get a good shaped product. Once the cone is choke fed, we can produce very good road base without having a third machine as a dedicated screening plant to size it up. A lot of councils will accept just the feed straight off the cone.”

An issue the company encountered with its original J-1175 was that it would capture too many “dinner plate type rocks” which would create “bridging in the cone”, and cause “feeder belt issues”. Malcolm Heinrich said the company’s first step was to fine-tune, dropping from 75mm fingers to 50mm fingers in the J-1175. “When Finlay started producing the J-1175s with a pre-screen,” he said, “we just jumped at one of them. Before that, we had 50mm fingers in the J-1175 with a pre-screen to start with, which was good, but we actually fine-tuned that even more by putting punch plate in.

“With a punch plate in with round holes, we get a very regular size dropping through,” he elaborated. “It actually takes more of the big, flat, horrible ugly rocks in with the big rocks into the jaw. This means the jaw does a more dedicated crush and then everything that goes up to the cone is a regular size. There’s no bridging in the cone, we get no obstructions in the feeder of the cone. We reckon by having a pre-screen on the jaw and keeping the size regular, we’re 15 to 20 per cent better off in overall production. It is not just a ‘feel good thing’, the pre-screens on our plants all tied together greatly increase and improve our production.”


Customer requirements

Finlay’s Han Alam said one of the keys to selling new, used and hire machines is to understand the customer’s requirements and identify a suitable machine that will address their needs. “At the end of the day, it’s about giving them a machine which will be suitable for the job and obviously meet the target that they are after, in terms of general tonnages and the application,” he said. “It’s not just about selling the machine, it’s ensuring that they have the correct machine.”

In recommending a mobile unit, Alam stated that he works to a set of questions he puts to the customer, eg: “What type of rocks are you crushing? What tonnages are you looking for at the end of the day?”

“The other part of my job is the after sales and service support, ensuring that we carry on giving the best support to the customer and if they have an issue, I will look into it, along with the parts and service department. So we believe in a long-term relationship with the customer and at the end of the day we make sure that he is happy with what we are offering.”

“From that information,” Alam continued, “I can work out the type of machine that would be suitable, and then we go into the nitty gritty of what he has available at site, in terms of earthmoving machines, how he is going to load the mobile unit and then we determine what can be expected from those machines in terms of tonnages. Quite often we talk about fuel consumption, we talk about the cost of wear parts and so on, because obviously it is a factor that he has to put into his costings. So we assist with as much information as required, when we put a proposal forward. In some cases, we will do agg flows, which simulate the production that can be expected from a train of machines.”

Alam also reiterated that Finlay can customise its tracked units to suit a customer’s requirements. “There will be customers asking for hopper extensions, and we can also give liner options for both the jaw and the cone to suit all applications. It’s entirely dependent on what the requirements are, we will look at the options that are available.”

Alam harked back to Malcolm Heinrich’s mention of modifications to the J-1175 jaw crusher. “We’ve had many discussions with Heinrich about improving their plant, for example, putting in punch plate to the jaw crusher. We actually worked together on the type of punch plate that would be best for the application. We sent drawings and recommendations to Malcolm based on the feedback that he gave us. We’ve worked together on improving the performance of the machine, according to the information supplied by Malcolm. In turn, Malcolm and the Heinrichs have been happy with the back-up and after sales service that we’ve provided.”

After sales and service

In affirmation, Malcolm Heinrich from day one described how he has enjoyed a good “rapport” with Finlay representatives, including Han Alam, hire and technical manager Ron Bustard in Brisbane and service managers Wayne Jones and Craig Johns in Brisbane and Melbourne respectively.

“Overall, the back-up and service from these guys is one of the chief reasons why we keep going back to Finlay,” Heinrich said. “The after sales service is excellent. If we’ve ever had problems, someone would jump on a plane and come and see us and walk us through it. Every time we’ve bought a plant, Finlay comes and commissions it for us. When we were first learning the computerised crushing concept, it was a different culture, so we had to get that into our operators’ heads. However, now we’ve reached the stage where we can talk stuff over the phone and sort out a problem while we’re standing at the crusher. Every now and then you might have to order a part and if they don’t have the part in stock, they’ll pull it off a new machine for us – that happens very rarely but that’s their dedication to get us running.”

Malcolm Heinrich also had no qualms in “pushing Finlay’s barrel” when it came to making recommendations to traditional users of stationary plant and equipment about mobile crushing and screening. He also had no reservations in airing his belief that mobile crushing and screening plant is more efficient than the fixed plant process.

“Finlay’s machines have served us well,” he said. “I’ve looked at other brands over the years and we always stay with Finlay. I guess certain quarries are entrenched with fixed plant crushing and just continue on but I can’t go past having a crusher at the face and crushing with no transport costs. You can produce an end product at the face. We have enough plant to be able to set up three basic trains, and every one of them can crush whatever rock we put at them.


“A lot of bigger quarries might even be able to combine a mobile circuit with their fixed plant, they could actually knock the material down at the face and just tertiary process certain bits of that through their fixed plant, but at the end of the day, the more you can do at the face, the more you are going to cut your costs.

“I guess that’s our advantage because we go where the job is, we go where the rock is and crush it where it is. We see some quarries that cart rock nearly a kilometre to their crushing plants and that’s always upping costs. If you have to start hauling your feed stock to crushers when you can actually crush at the quarry face, well there’s a big difference there, right from the word go!”

With that attitude and a firm foundation behind them, both SC Heinrich and Finlay Screening and Crushing look set to continue their successful partnership.

Terex Finlay mobile plant is available through Finlay Screening and Crushing Systems in the eastern states, including South Australia and Tasmania, and through OPS Screening and Crushing Equipment in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

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