A new Kobelco digger is helping a Sydney quarry, Jones Quarries Group, flourish. Quarry speaks to Dan Jones, the third-generation family business founder, to learn more.
Two years ago, Dan Jones was working full time at his grandparents’ quarry while finishing a business degree at university.
He saw there was an opportunity to grow the business, but with his grandparents being in their 70s, didn’t want to burden them with extra work to sustain it.
He decided instead to start his own business working alongside them, and from there the Jones Quarries Group was born.
The quarry operation is primarily focused on extracting, processing, and supplying sandstone products – usually in the form of logs or cut into specific sizes for use in walls, finishes, stairs and more.
Jones told Quarry that he strives to provide the highest-level service to his customers.
“We’re a small, family-business,” he said. “They’re dealing directly with the company, and we make sure there won’t be any issues.
“It doesn’t matter if our clients have an issue at 5am on a Monday, or 9pm on a Saturday, I’m always available to help out,” he said.
Efficiency and precision are key to this service, which is why Jones uses a custom saw attachment.
Jones said they have become a popular tool among sandstone quarries – almost a standard for the industry. The saws are at 500mm and one metre intervals, which allows an excavator to saw a dimensional grid without having to mark every individual cut using a single blade.
This significantly speeds up the process, but the equipment weighs around four tonnes. Jones needed an excavator that could extend and hold its arm fully, without tipping or affecting the overall end product.
“We explored the market and Kobelco came out on top,” he said.
“Pricewise they were competitive, and we got a good feeling from our local Kobelco dealer STM Trucks & Machinery (STM) when I went to their yard.
“STM is a family business as well and share our values. In the end, we decided it was the right fit.”
The Kobelco SK380XDLC was one of the first machines Jones purchased when setting up his business. It had the right amount of power to do the job, and most importantly, it weighed almost 40t, making it perfect for the sawing application.
Kobelco’s XD series of excavators are designed specifically for quarry-like environments, featuring a rugged machine body with additional reinforcement across the boom arm and undercarriage.
It is built to exacting Japanese standards for quality and reliability and is one of the company’s heaviest excavators it produces.
Safety is paramount for the operation, which is why Jones had additional features installed onto the SK380XDLC. Because sandstone is high in silica, Jones installed a HEPA filter and made sure the air inside the cab is pressurised. This ensures that any dust created by the sawing cannot enter the cab.
The digger also features an additional camera on the right-hand side, along with another LCD screen to provide 360° vision at all times. Jones said the comfort in the cab has been a standout.
“When you’re sitting in the cab all day, you want the environment to be comfy,” he said.
“The design of the cab makes it appealing to work in – the vision is fantastic. It sets it apart from other diggers.”
The SK380XDLC features a large air conditioner that blows from behind and to the right and left of the operator’s seat. These can be adjusted to put out a direct flow of cool or warm air for long summer days.
Coil springs help to absorb small vibrations and high suspension mounts filled with silicone oil reduce heavy vibration.
Jones adds that he was lucky to see all of the different diggers in person before deciding which one to buy.
“Having hands-on, up-close experience with all the brands we were thinking of was so important. If you’re exploring the market, make sure you test the waters, do your research, and find out if it’s the right gear for you.”
While the digger was primarily bought to handle the sawing, it’s become a jack of all trades. The team have attached buckets, hammers, and rippers to it to handle odd jobs around the quarry.
This flexibility is very important for the small business. Jones said that knowing he has a machine that can cover all bases helps when there is downtime for other equipment.
“Having the right gear for the job is one of the most important lessons we’ve learned,” he said.
“Previously we’ve done jobs using older equipment and made do with what we had. In hindsight, we could have done it quicker.
“Whether it’s a bigger digger for the job, or a different tool or attachment – it’s super important we’re using the right gear. It saves on both downtime and labour.” •
For more information, visit kobelco.com.au