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Long-term partners a win for North Queensland

 

A Townsville-based construction business has made a very successful transition into quarrying, thanks to a decade-long relationship with his mobile crushing plant distributor. Mendi Group’s Jeff Doyle and Lincom Group’s Erwin Koch talk to Quarry.

For more than 60 years, the Mendi Group has been a mainstay of the north and central regions of Queensland, offering expertise in civil construction, property and project development, bulk haulage and logistics, plant hire and contract crushing.

It is a second generation family company, founded by Kevin Doyle in 1959. His son and the current company owner and managing director Jeff Doyle has been involved with the business most of his life and has 35 years’ experience in the civil construction sector.

Today, the Mendi Group boasts more than 90 employees and has been involved in the construction of many of Townsville’s iconic buildings and facilities, including the Townsville City bus hub, the North Queensland Stadium, the Dalrymple Road upgrade, the V8 Supercar track, most large development sites in Townsville and many infrastructure projects in the North. 

In the past nine years, the company has also established a presence in the local quarrying market, operating four quarries: two sand sites, under the subsidiary Townsville Graded Sands, in Kelso, off the Ross River Dam catchment; and two hard rock quarries, in Roseneath, 15km southwest of Townsville, the other off the Bruce Highway, on the way to Rollingstone, in the north (the Rollingstone site, purchased in 2018, originally operated as the Wild Boar Quarry).

The hard rock quarries are operated under the Mendi subsidiary CAMM Quarries, whose initials derive from the names of Jeff Doyle’s four children – Courtney, Ashleigh, Matthew and Mitchell.

The two hard rock quarries offer 20mm, 14mm, 10mm, or 7mm and less than 5mm aggregates, similar size or graded concrete aggregates, and crusher dust smaller than 5mm for pre-mix concrete manufacture, road surfacing, asphalt and drainage applications, as well as Queensland Transport and Main Roads-specified (TMR) roadbase and mattress, armoured and gabion rock. The two sand sites offer customers bedding, electrical and fine sands, top soils and loams, gravels, TMR-specified roadbase and fill materials, and turf underlays.

“We would crush on a consistent annual basis around 700,000 to 800,000 tonnes per year,” Doyle said of his four sites. “My construction business is one of the largest in Townsville and is the dominant customer of CAMM. We do continue to work with the likes of other aggregate producers, including Boral and Holcim.”

 

TRANSITION TO QUARRYING

Doyle’s original foray into quarrying first occurred in 2008 via his contract crushing business. He credits Stephen Watterson, now the managing director of the Lincom Group, based in Brisbane, with initially introducing him to crushing, which led him into quarrying.

“We were working on a road cutting in 2008 and I spoke to Steve Watterson, who was a regional salesman for Lincom at the time,” he recalled. “Steve put me onto the 428 Trakpactor impact crusher and that was my first foray into crushing. That was an experience. We proceeded to do contracting crushing in Cairns, Townsville and Mackay. 

“The contract crushing side of the business is nearly non-existent at the moment because we’ve been busy in our own quarries in the past three years. We’ve had some remote projects – and as part of those projects we’ve had to establish greenfield quarries or pits and manufacture roadbase materials for road projects north and south of Charters Towers. Each project was about 150,000 tonnes of materials for those projects.”

In the past decade, Doyle’s sand and quarrying interests have supplied aggregate for infrastructure, residential, landscaping, water mains and underground, rehabilitation and road-based projects around Townsville, including the Glenn Road/Flinders Highway acceleration lane, the Townsville Distribution Precinct, the Port of Townsville Channel capacity upgrade, the Townsville City Council’s Stuart and Hervey Range landfills, schools and junior sports fields, the Bluewattle Estate project in Rasmussen and the aforementioned Fairfield Grange and North Queensland stadium.

Throughout that time Doyle has accumulated an impressive mobile crushing and screening plant fleet. Today, he has 13 machines, 11 of which are Terex Powerscreen units or their Pegson predecessors. Two other, non-Powerscreen-branded machines came courtesy of a quarry acquisition.

“Steve Watterson had pestered me in his capacity as a salesman about buying a crusher or a screen,” Doyle quipped. “When the time came for me to go into quarrying, he was the first person I rang and we’ve had a great relationship.”

Since 2008, Doyle has purchased 15 Powerscreen/Pegson machines, four of which he signed off on at time of press. “I traded the 428 in on a new jaw in 2008-09, and I still have every machine that I’ve bought off Lincom since then,” he said. 

“We’d average 1000 to 1200 hours per year per machine. I always have a redundant machine – so it can go into a circuit if one machine has to be serviced or repaired.

“I just bought an X400 jaw, a Maxtrak 1000 cone and a Warrior 2100 and a 2100 three-deck screen. They’re all being delivered in the next four weeks. They will serve our business, and being a competent quarry operator, we need good, reliable machinery.”

CAMM Quarries’ Trakpactor 320SR tracked impact crusher has been in service for the past two years, crushing overburden at the face.

THREE MACHINES IN ONE’

Another purchase from Lincom in the past two years has been the Trakpactor 320SR impact crusher, which has been crushing and screening overburden at the face. “I wanted the one machine pass,” Doyle said. “We were limited for room, and we said it’s in stock so let’s just grab it.”

Impact crushers have traditionally had a “bad rap” in the industry because they are not necessarily suited to high wear crushing applications but Doyle said that the Trakpactor 320SR was fit for purpose. “It’s a one-stop shop – it has the primary, the secondary and the recirc. In the right application, it’s a great machine. We put it in the right location, and it was crushing 1500 to 1800 tonnes a day without fail.

“If you put an impact crusher into a low wear impact application, they’re good machines,” he continued. “They are three machines in one. Depending on the screen mesh size that dictates the output, we run a 40-45mm screen for that size material. We have put that machine in high wear areas to trial it – we leave it there for a week and calculate its effectiveness on cost per tonne.”

The Trakpactor 320SR has been idle recently and is waiting for the right project to present itself. Doyle said it is “set up as a redundant crusher, so we can use it and it can fill the void for a period of time, but you just have to compare the cost per tonne in manufacture and wear. Sometimes, I don’t factor the cost, I take production into account. For us, it’s about servicing the customer. That’s our niche – we never say no.”

Erwin Koch, Lincom’s area sales manager for North Queensland, the Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea, said the Trakpactor 320SR is a “single pass system – you put the material in and basically you don’t touch it until it’s an end product. It’s a universal machine that you can use in a range of hard or soft rock applications – it can be used in quarrying, recycling, demolition, and concrete applications because it can give you a greater end product and recirculates the oversized product to be reprocessed”.

Koch said one of the benefits of the Trakpactor 320SR is its fuel-efficient direct drive system which comprises an engine with a direct drive to the clutch and a v-belt to the crusher.

“A lot of other machines have a hydraulic pump which in turn drives a motor and the motor drives the crusher,” he explained. “You need a lot of horsepower to drive all of those things, to transmit the engine power to the crusher, and also you have a lot more components. On top of that, a big problem we have here in Australia is cooling and keeping the machine at the right temperature for the job it’s doing. If you’re using hydraulic oil as a form of drive transmission, it has to be cool. So if you don’t have that feature, it’s a simpler system for trouble-shooting.

“It’s quite user-friendly. It’s very easy for the operators to adjust the settings and operate the crusher. It’s automated with remote control that can control the feeder from a digger or a loader, so you have remote control over the machine, which is quite easy. Servicing and the maintenance is quite easy, and very appealing to people that would have to do that job.”

In addition, the 46-tonne Trakpactor 320SR is equipped with twin apron and grinding path, four-bar impactor rotor with the options of a pre-screen, a Tier 4F vibrating grizzly feeder and an extended dirt conveyor.  There are also options for an underpan feeder, hopper extension for the feeds, auxiliary stackers, cabin pressurisation, water suppression, and a fuel pump. It has a throughput of up to 320 tonnes per hour.

Koch also repeated Doyle’s point that it is a “one shop stop” machine. “Because it has the crusher and the screener as a combination on the one chassis, it’s easy to move around from site to site if you’re doing any road projects, or instead of moving a jaw/cone/screener configuration, you’re able to use the one unit, which is the ideal scenario for a machine of this type.”

LONG-STANDING PARTNERSHIP

After working with the Lincom Group for the best part of 13 years, Doyle said that he has never entertained buying his mobile crushing plant from anyone else.

“I’d like to think the relationship I have with Lincom and the Watterson family will continue forever,” he said. “I think once you’re in a brand, if you want to have consistent parts supply and assortment of spares, you have to maintain the same brand, it becomes less complicated. Lincom’s service and maintenance is second to none, and fit for purpose.

“I have machines with more than 10,000 hours on them,” he added. “They’re eight years old, and they’re serviceable today, and crushing most days of the week. It’s about being familiar with something – we’re familiar and set up for the Powerscreen brand. I can’t compare Powerscreen with other brands in terms of economy but I’m comfortable with the levels of service that I get out of Powerscreen and Lincom.”

Another aspect of the long-standing partnership that Doyle values is that Lincom is, like his own businesses, a family-owned and -run enterprise.

“I understand what it’s like to have the family quality in my business – and that’s what I like about Steve and Roy Watterson,” he said. “They answer their phones any time I need a hand. They support our business with warranty, and there’s a clear understanding about the warranty process. I’ll see these new machines arrive in my quarry in the next month, and it will be a proud moment – not only for my business but because it reinforces the relationship with Lincom and the Wattersons. I am sincere about my relationship with the Watterson family. It’s just luck that they sell something I need.  

“We have our own workshop and service team, and we do at times have Lincom bring servicemen to Townsville, and we only use Lincom spare parts and components. It’s not price-driven, it’s relationship-driven. You can’t expect loyalty if you don’t give loyalty.”

Doyle also paid tribute to Erwin Koch. “Having a local sales rep and subject expert live in Townsville and work for Lincom is very beneficial for any customer that works in the north,” he said. “It can’t be understated the importance of having Erwin in town.”

Doyle’s advice to other quarry producers that haven’t worked with Lincom is simple. “There’s an opportunity they could be missing out on. There’s definitely an advantage that a family-operated team and business provides,” he concluded.