Less Convention, More Ripping

R&L Withers is a family run earthmoving business that has been in the industry for about 35 years. Based in Tumut, New South Wales, the quarry operator offers roadbases, aggregates and crushed rock with an annual output of about 90,000 tonnes a year.

At R&L Withers’ Wyangle Quarry in Tumut an alternative quarry excavation solution is being put to the test.

The operator’s Roger Withers tells Quarry he has been using the bulk Xcentric Ripper earthmoving tool with solid results.

“It’s been a couple of years [using the Xcentric Ripper],” Withers said, adding he has been using the XR40 model with a Komatsu PC350 excavator. “We had used hydraulic hammers [in the past], but they were too slow – not productive at all.

“I’d read about it [the Xcentric Ripper] and watched it on YouTube videos. I was always looking at new stuff coming out, so I’d seen how they work.

“We decided to buy one and see how it went, which worked out pretty well. It’s probably done about 3000 hours. We’re breaking at 80,000 tonnes or 90,000 tonnes a year with the ripper.”

{{image2-a:r-w:300}}The Xcentric Ripper is said to be “quite different” from the conventional hammer action that comes with rock breaking. However, the circular movement is known for delivering greater productivity with less noise.

When asked why he chose a ripper to extract aggregates rather than conventional drill and blast methods, Withers noted the machine’s convenience.

“You can just rip it [the rock] whenever you want it,” he said. “There are no restrictions; when we rip, we get a good coarse material that can be crushed whenever you want. It’s much easier to handle.”

The machine’s convenience also comes in handy for quarry operators needing to work in particularly challenging conditions: the Xcentric Ripper works under water and where detonation is not possible.

Wayne Davies, the sales manager of Xcentric Ripper Australia, said rippers are being used in “every state in civil and construction applications, and the mining and quarrying industries”.

“In Australia, we have around 13 rippers working in quarries in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. We also have rippers working in quarries in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Nauru,” Davies said, adding the tool’s productivity is a “huge game changer”.

“On 80 per cent of job applications, the Xcentric Ripper can be three to five times more productive than any hydraulic breaker on the market in most types of rock,” he said.

Withers echoes this: “In terms of production, it is probably about 10 times more productive – it’s a huge difference.”

The Ripper’s economical advantages when compared with typical drilling and blasting methods are also worth highlighting.

With a full range of sizes available, from seven to 150 tonnes (including the XR30 and the XR40), the Xcentric Ripper is known for promoting higher safety standards; with no blasting emissions there is less disturbance of the surroundings in terms of noise and dust.

The attachment is also said to promote a better yield due to smaller percentage of fines, as there is more precision for separation of rock layers.

Another advantage for quarry operators is that no long approval procedures are required.

The ripper is at least 10 decibels quieter than a hydraulic hammer, meaning it can be operated for longer hours. It is also said to consume less fuel, produce fewer emissions and offer increased operator comfort.

Furthermore, the need for daily maintenance and lubrication are eliminated due to the ripper’s mechanical design, and its components offer a longer wear life.

Davies recommended quarry operators change the gearbox oil at 50 hours when purchasing new; afterwards, every 250 hours is sufficient. He also recommended the grease ripper be changed every 250 hours, ideally at the same time as changing the gearbox oil.

When asked if he would recommend the ripper to others in the quarrying industry, Withers didn’t hesitate.

“Definitely, I’ve done that a few times,” he said. “[If quarry operators] saw one working away, they wouldn’t hesitate in going out and buying one. They just need to physically come have a look at one; once they see it working they’ll be sold on it. They’ll see what they can do and how quick they are.”

By Talia Paz and Damian Christie

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