A Hanson Australia extractive operation has never been busier. Fortunately, there has been extra support to assist the quarry’s core earthmoving fleet as it transfers aggregate from the face to the crushing circuit and out the gate.
Hanson Australia’s Kulnura Quarry is located off the New South Wales Central Coast, about 25km from Gosford and about 90km northwest of Sydney. Kulnura Quarry is extracting a columnar basalt deposit and under the current extraction plan, there is about 10 to 15 years of resources left in the quarry.
There are 48 personnel at the site which runs on day and night shifts. The workforce includes operators and maintainers, including boiler makers, heavy vehicle mechanics, diesel fitters and technicians.
Hanson’s annual output at Kulnura is between 1.5 and 1.7 million tonnes per annum. As quarry manager Greg Dressler told Quarry, many of Kulnura’s end products comprise concrete aggregates, 10mm to 20mm and 20mm graded roadbase products, and washed and unwashed manufactured sands.
“We mainly produce aggregates,” he said, “but we also supply the construction market with drainage rock, small gabion rock and specified and unspecified roadbases for the quarry materials market. We satisfy most of the quarry materials markets.
“We supply both to the Central Coast and Sydney for concrete aggregates, and civil construction markets as well. Our concrete plants are feeding into major infrastructure projects in the Sydney market. We supply locally to a number of housing developments, so again, civil construction materials, drainage materials, specified and unspecified roadbase products.”
To be extracting and then moving up to two million tonnes of aggregates per year on-site, you require an extensive and reliable earthmoving fleet.
“In our load and haul fleet, we have a fleet of Cat 775G dump trucks, a Cat 990 face loader, a Komatsu WA700 loader, a Cat D9 dozer, a Cat 769 dump truck for stockpiling work, three Volvo sales loaders – two L250s and a L260 – plus ancillary equipment with Bobcats, mini-excavators, telehandlers and elevated work platforms,” Dressler said.
However, even with such an impressive inventory, the demands on Hanson Kulnura Quarry from the Central Coast and Sydney markets means the operation must periodically lease more equipment. It is also necessary to bring in more “muscle” if a regular member of the fleet is also indisposed.
Enter Delta Group whose hire division offers quarries and mines heavy late model plant and equipment nationwide, both for short- and long-term purposes. Hanson Australia has worked with Delta for more than a decade on the supply of rental equipment to its quarrying operations nationwide.
At Kulnura, Delta has most recently supplied Hanson with a Komatsu WA500-7 wheel loader, a large Caterpillar 773 haul truck and two Hitachi excavators – a ZX290LC-5 and a ZX690LCH-5.
“The 773 is an additional dump truck to cover our stockpile requirements,” Dressler explained. “It supplements our Cat 769 from a stockpiling/finished product perspective. The WA500 enables us to stand down a couple of our loaders for major mid-life rebuilds.
“The ZX690 excavator is used for a combination of overburden removal and it also supplements as a face-holding tool for our load and haul fleet. The ZX290, which is the smaller excavator, is used for general housekeeping works and tasks, a little bit of stockpile management, and we also use it for feeding some mobile crushing and screening equipment that we hire in from time to time.”
ACCEPTANCE OF SITE
Dressler, who has more than 35 years’ experience in the quarrying industry and worked across a range of extractive companies, was already familiar with Delta Group’s reputation and expertise prior to joining Hanson Kulnura earlier this year.
“Most of the Delta Rent equipment is low hour, late model machines,” he said. “Delta’s gear is well maintained. Our earthmoving fleet is quite diverse because it is Cat, Volvo, Hitachi and Komatsu. The operators are very happy. When the guys jump out of one brand of excavator into another brand of excavator, the excavator operations remain the same, it’s just becoming familiar with the new machines.
“We do a familiarisation with our people. We also do an acceptance of site for hired equipment to ensure that it meets our minimum site requirements around MDG15, from a safety perspective. Generally, the machines are well and truly up to spec but it is one of our processes that we have to follow to meet site requirements.”
The flexibility, Dressler said, to lease the plant from Delta Rent enables Hanson Kulnura to stand its machines down for “mid-life rebuilds or major repairs”.
“Having our own core fleet is what we maintain but we use Delta Rent to supplement equipment for peaks in the market and mobile crushing and screening operations or any other projects on-site with overburden removal and the like,” he added.
Dressler added that by hiring equipment on a supplemental basis, quarries also stand to make capital savings. “There are some operations that may not have the capital available, so rental is a good option. The market goes up and down, so it makes little sense to purchase machines of your own that you don’t end up utilising – that ends up being a lot of money wasted with none of the benefits. Having a core fleet means you can supplement it with rental equipment based on demand.”
Core fleets, particularly in larger quarries, will inevitably utilise fleet management solutions to monitor machine and operator performance.
Dressler explained that Hanson Kulnura uses the SAP software platform which “helps us in and around our scheduled maintenance and financial tracking of our mobile fleet. Internally, we also have some very good visibility of the efficiencies of our mobile fleet, whereby we monitor idle times and the fuel factors of our haul trucks. It’s good data to have to optimise the efficiency of your operations.
“With the hired-in equipment from Delta, we don’t use SAP. Delta maintains the gear well in terms of scheduled servicing but if there is data we need, we can recover it from Delta.”
Damien Gramola, the national sales manager for Delta Rent, told Quarry that operator and machine performance is readily available for quarrying clients to add to their own fleet data.
“We can provide any customer with operator and machine telematics,” he said. “This is derived from the OEM telematics programs which Delta Rent use on a regular basis to monitor machines and their performance.
“It is also used to provide hours for servicing and maintenance to ensure the machines are maintained at their peak performance.”
Gramola said the company’s approach to leasing its equipment to quarrying clients applied across the spectrum, whether it was large, medium or small producers. He said the appeal of Delta to larger producers with large earthmoving fleets like Hanson was that they could hire equipment to support their operations with few restrictions and at relatively short notice.
“For the big producers, it’s about flexilbility and responsiveness to demand,” Gramola explained. “If they have a breakdown we can mobilise equipment quickly to reduce the impact of the breakdown, plus when the unit is no longer needed it is simply off hired and returned. We can hire equipment out for one day, one week, one month or years, it’s really up to the customer.”
In this time of COVID-19 uncertainty, it is a brave man who can organise delivery of heavy-duty plant and equipment at short notice but nonetheless Gramola said that the turnaround times on Delta’s hire gear is reliable. “It depends on when the request is made, but usually within 24 hours we can have a replacement machine on-site and ready to work.”
Gramola added that the scalability and costs of renting are also more attractive for quarrying producers than “trying and buying gear” from OEMs/dealers or buying low hour machines from auctioneers.
“When demand for product increases or they need to start stripping, they can bring in equipment to satisfy the need, then when demand falls away or the stripping finishes, they can simply off hire and return the unit,” Gramola said.
“It allows customers to forecast costs and output based on equipment required and the amount of time needed to complete a project. It also prevents them having to deal with any servicing or breakdowns because we take care of all maintenance and servicing.”
Greg Dressler has liaised with Paul Ryan, Delta’s heavy earthmoving rental equipment specialist in NSW, and described his overall experience with Delta – both before and since joining Hanson – as positive.
“They’re a very professional company to deal with, very responsive and very cost-competitive,” he said. “They can cover our needs quite quickly. They have a large fleet across the eastern seaboard and it’s a reasonable range that is available at very short notice.”•
For more information about Delta Group’s rental service, visit deltagroup.com.au/rent
This article appears in the October issue of Quarry.