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Terracotta loading warriors and the best of the loading West

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe & International
July August 2014
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SDLG LG953A1 wheeled loaders

Businesses in Asia and Europe are benefiting from the latest loading equipment and technology. Guy Woodford reports

A battalion of SDLG wheeled loaders are working at a concrete manufacturing facility in Shaanxi Province, west China, close to the site of the famous Terracotta Army.

Lintong, a rural settlement 35km to the east of Xi’An, western China , is famous for being the birthplace of the Terracotta Army, a collection of terracotta figurines depicting the army of Qin Shi Huang, China’s first-ever Emperor. Today in Lintong, a fleet of SDLG wheeled loaders is busy loading gravel from the nearby river plains for Jinsheng Concrete Co., Ltd., which sits on the 800km Wei River, facing the picturesque Qin Mountain Range.

The concrete production facility is maximising opportunities in the construction industry following the launch of China’s ‘Go West’ policy, which began just before the country's entry into the World Trade Organisation in 2001. This government scheme is aimed at promoting economic development in the remote western fringes – areas that have previously been ignored in favour of the big cities of Shanghai and Beijing in the east. The policy has promoted the construction of new housing and infrastructure – making Lintong the ideal place to produce concrete.

On site, four SDLG wheeled loaders navigate piles of gravel and sand interspersed with large water pits (which create thick mud). The aggregate material is mixed with the finer sand to produce concrete. In some parts of the site, the wheeled loaders must scrape down to the river bed to dig out the course material before transporting it to the crushing machine for processing into concrete.

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SDLG LG953N wheeled loader
Jinsheng Concrete's SDLG fleet includes a LG953N wheeled loader, said to be renowned for its fuel-saving mode

“The terrain where the machines are working is very muddy and machines have to be tough to handle it,” said Gao Weidong, managing director of Jinsheng Concrete. “Western China has a climate of extremes. In the wintertime it can drop to -10°C while remaining extremely dry; conditions that can be difficult for some machinery to handle.”

Weidong’s fleet includes an SDLG LG953A1 wheeled loader, an LG953 that he has owned for two years and an LG953N, a model renowned for its fuel-saving mode, plus an older version of this model. For Jinsheng Concrete to meet increasing customer demand, machine uptime and reliability are hugely important to keep the job site running.

“We like SDLG machines because they are straightforward, easy to maintain and easy to operate,” said Weidong.

One operator, Hao Hongbo, who operates one of the wheeled loaders for 10 hours a day, is impressed with the comfortable cab – even when having to endure below-freezing temperatures. Hongbo said: “The ergonomic layout of controls makes the SDLG wheel loaders easy to operate. I have a great time driving around whether it’s on top of the gravel pile or in a water pit because it’s easy to drive on any terrain. When in the cab, I appreciate the climate control system that keeps me comfortable at any temperature from the 38°C scorching heat to below freezing temperatures.”

The LG953 wheeled loader has other features to improve operations, including better visibility from the cab, a rear-view camera and an improved bucket design for longer uptime. “We want the driver to be comfortable at work to keep the staff turnover rate to a minimum. It costs a lot to train a new operator – so our aim is to keep our existing ones happy so they stay with us,” Weidong said.

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Hitachi ZW330-5 wheeled loader at Socavi limestone quarry in Savoie, France
Transporting limestone materials and loading trucks are among key jobs for the new Hitachi ZW330-5 wheeled loader at Socavi limestone quarry in Savoie, France

Jinsheng Concrete was founded just three years ago, but its annual turnover is already in excess of (€24.22 million) RMB 200 million. Jinsheng Concrete is said to be doing great business, with pre-orders of more than 400,000m³ of concrete already on its books for 2014, the company will be looking to its SDLG machines to continue their workload, handling as much as 2,000m³ of gravel and sand each 10-hour day.

In Europe, the Colas Group has invested in a new Hitachi ZW330-5 wheeled loader for its Socavi limestone quarry in Savoie, in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. The quarry in Commune de Villette, near Moûtiers, produces 200,000tonnes/year of aggregates, which are predominantly used for construction and public works.

Since it arrived on site, the ZW330-5 has been used for transporting the limestone materials, reshaping stockpiles and loading trucks. Approximately 70% of the material is allocated to Socavi’s customers, which are largely public works contractors.

Delivered by local dealer Teramat, the Hitachi wheeled loader has a three-year/5,000-hour Hitachi Extended Life Program (HELP) warranty, which includes the supply of Hitachi Parts. Colas decided to invest in the new machine following a positive experience with Teramat’s after-sales support team.

Quarry Manager Renaud Hatton said, “We have two Hitachi excavators working on the quarry floor – an EX800 delivered in 2000 with 13,000 hours and a ZX650 delivered in 2002 with 12,000 hours. When we needed some technical assistance with the EX800 a couple of years ago, Teramat was able satisfy our immediate and longer term requirements.”

This is said to have helped to establish the relationship between the two companies and ultimately led to the delivery of the ZW330-5. Operator Thierry Ougier, who has worked at the quarry for four years, says he is enthused by his first experience with a Hitachi wheeled loader. “I’m impressed by the visibility from the cab, especially with the help of the rear-view camera. The display is easy to read and highly visible, even on sunny days – it’s the most advanced I have seen.”

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Hitachi ZW330-5 wheeled loader

Ougier feels he can use the Hitachi ZW330-5 without compromise, even when fully loaded and travelling up steep inclines. “The high breakout force enables me to fill the bucket easily,” he explained.

“The transmission is very smooth and, in combination with the auto ride control, it allows the wheel loader to travel fully loaded without losing any materials, even when I change gear. I can move easily and quickly around the site when loading trucks thanks to the fast acceleration.”

Compared to the previous wheeled loader he used at the site, Ougier has noted a reduction in fuel consumption with the ZW330-5, “The fuel efficiency is much better, but it has also greater productivity at the same time. This highlights the lower running costs of the new Hitachi wheeled loader.”

At the recent Hillhead 2014 show at the Lafarge Tarmac quarry in Buxton, Derbyshire, northern England, Loadrite, a Trimble company, exhibited its 360° load-out management system designed to boost efficiency in quarries by integrating communication across all stages of an order for faster turnarounds and maximised payloads.

Speaking at the show to Route One Publishing’s Construction TV.TV channel, John Vaassen, Trimble Loadrite EMEA business manager, said, “Loadrite 360° redirects a lot of extra work that the weighbridge operator needs to do. There’s no double handling.

“We are feeding the recorded information from the trucks coming into the site directly from the [weighbridge operator] system to the wheeled loader, so that the wheeled loader operator sees the trucks to be loaded. They can take a truck, click on it [the system], and it will give them the information they need to load ‘this’ truck, with ‘this’ material, to ‘this’ target weight. They finish the job and information on it goes back to the office automatically. By optimising the loading of the trucks, they [the site operator] can end up selling a little bit more.”

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TSL Contractors Ltd’s new 30tonne EC300D Volvo excavator
TSL Contractors Ltd's new 30tonne EC300D Volvo excavator will help deliver high profile hydro-electric projects on the Isle of Mull

Vaassen said that with Loadrite 360°, the site supervisor can look and know where the wheeled loaders are and what they are doing at any given time. A site manager, he said, can also look at the data produced and see what’s happening at a production level, and can aggregate the information or look down into the “deep detail”.  

Elsewhere in the UK, TSL Contractors Ltd (TSL) based at Craignure on the Isle of Mull has opted for a 30tonne EC300D Volvo excavator to spearhead several prestigious hydro-electric projects on the island. 

Powered by a six cylinder D8H Stage IIIB engine, the EC300D is the first Volvo Construction Equipment product to be purchased by the company and was chosen specifically to carry out operations breaking rock with a hydraulic hammer on one of several hydro-electric projects currently being undertaken by the company. “We wanted a large enough machine that had sufficient capacity for rock breaking and had been considering the Volvo product for a while,” said TSL’s managing director Andrew Knight. “We also had to consider our requirements in line with the logistical limitations of moving larger equipment onto and around the islands so settled on the thirty tonne EC300D as the optimum prime mover. So far we’ve been impressed with the machine’s performance.”

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