Regional Group

Quarry talks to Regional Group to see how a Victorian sand quarry has improved its cycle times by purchasing a Kobelco SK500XD excavator.

Sand can be a major nuisance. It can be coarse, rough, and get everywhere.

It is also a vital part of construction materials such as cement and concrete.

In Victoria, the Regional Group digs for sand at its Grantville site. Sean Murphy, Regional Group’s operations manager, told Quarry there is a layer of clay overburden at various depths on top of yellow deposits of fine to medium sand.

“Conditions during winter make the site muddy, so we work during the summer months,” he said.

“Down in the pit, it is free draining, but you’re dealing with abrasive sand on the tracks.”

The site had previously used three excavators, but they were getting long in the tooth and had some repair and maintenance issues.

Regional Group Kobelco Excavator

The quarry was also looking to improve its cycle time. With three excavators, it took around 12 minutes to move material from the bit to the bin. With a bigger machine, the site could cut this down significantly.

As part of the replacement, the Regional Group purchased Kobelco’s SK500XD. The excavator has been specifically designed for extreme durability, allowing it to operate in some of the harshest quarrying conditions around the world.

Weighing in at 52,200 kilograms, the machine is one of the heaviest in its class and comes with substantial reinforcements to all key stress and wear areas.

Chris Wolf, Kobelco Australia’s general manager of marketing and direct sales, said the key factors behind the Regional Group’s purchase of the machine are its reliability, resale factor and fuel efficiency.

“The SK500XD goes above and beyond – it’s been purpose-built with a robust machine body with an extreme-duty boom and arm.

That provides additional strength from a mechanical engineering perspective than a standard heavy-duty design,” he said.

The boom and arm have internal and external reinforcement to take it to another level. These machines are being used to rip rocks and break stone day in, day out, for up to 25,000 hours in some of the toughest markets of the world like India, China and Southeast Asia.

Chris Wolf – Kobelco Australia’s general manager of marketing and direct sales

The SK500XD also features a quadruple track guide frame, which provides reliability in harsh and rocky underfoot conditions, while reinforced heavy-duty 600mm triple grouser shoes make it manoeuvrable across rough terrain.

Regional Group Kobelco Excavator

The durability of the track links has also increased. At the same time, the idler frame has received substantial double reinforcement plating inside and out, resulting in improved undercarriage reliability while preventing premature wear of this key structure.

A heavy-duty, steel-bolted underbody guard protects vital machine components and provides additional weight for greater stability.

The Regional Group has had the machine since December.

“It’s quite a smooth machine to utilise. It’s also very stable. Even at full bucket extension, there’s no tipping as we load the trucks,” Murphy said.

“It has a good breakout force to deal with our clay. The team has said the track frames are a good design, as they don’t retain much dirt around the tracks, so there’s no material caking around our idlers and rollers.

“They’ve also said it’s comfortable to spend a full shift in – they don’t feel tired or sore after a full day’s work.”

Kobelco designed the cabin with a front window that provides a wide, unobstructed view for greater visibility. It is also pressurised, providing a quiet and airtight work environment free from dust.

A heated and air-cushioned suspension seat provides protection from vibration, while an automatic climate control system vents air towards the operator’s neck and back.

An LCD multi-display screen shows the operator important information, such as fuel consumption and maintenance intervals, as well as an integrated rear-view camera.

Murphy said he was impressed with the machine’s fuel efficiency.

“Compared to a 45-tonne machine, we’ve improved fuel efficiency by around 10 litres per hour,” he said.

The SK500XD is designed to deliver an average fuel consumption of under 30L per hour in typical Australian heavy digging conditions. Its new boom-to-arm regeneration system more efficiently controls hydraulic fluid flow and delivers a significant reduction of in-line resistance and pressure loss. As the need for fluid to be forced from the pump is reduced, less engine and hydraulic workload means higher fuel savings.

Three work modes allow the operator to select the best mode for the job at hand— heavy-duty and standard work options, and an eco-mode that automatically optimises digging efficiency, delivering a 13 per cent decrease in fuel consumption.

While it’s still in the early days, Murphy said the site is happy with the upgrade and is comfortable knowing that replacement parts are easily available.

 Kobelco’s extended major component warranty protects the site for four years or 6000 hours and is included with all new XD Series machines. It also offers its Geoscan telematics systems, free of charge for five years, allowing remote access to a set of machine operational and maintenance data.

Wolf said the Regional Group’s parent company, the Maas Group, are connected with lifetime subscriptions to the telematics system.

“They can track and schedule downtime and maintenance using one simple platform from its head office in Dubbo,” he said.

“The response to the XD range from the quarry industry has been awesome. Since we launched this machine, it’s been a number-one seller across several states in the country.

“Our quarry customers have seen what the product has to offer them, and it’s opened a few eyes. They can tell you’re getting a reliable, fuel-efficient performance leader.”

Regional Group Kobelco Excavator