Hanson Aggregates has purchased the first two Liebherr L 586 XPower wheeled loaders in the UK and put them to work on the aggregate production side of the company’s Cefn Mawr quarry near Mold in Flintshire, north-east Wales.
Padeswood cement works and many concrete batching plants in the north-east Wales area are supplied with material won from Cefn Mawr quarry, a site operational for over 100 years. This means Cefn Mawr quarry’s loading models are under pressure to perform.
Launched at bauma 2016, Liebherr’s XPower range of loaders employs the German manufacturer’s version of the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to provide a fuel efficient and durable driveline alternative to traditional mechanical driveline systems. The system combines a split driveline that is both mechanical and hydrostatic. The hydrostatic drive is most efficient in short loading cycles whilst the mechanical drive is used for long distance driving or climbing gradients. The transmission automatically manages the interaction between the two drive types and is adjustable and continually mixing the ratio of the two drives without interrupting traction. The hydrostatic portion of the drive is higher when starting the loader and during loading duties. The mechanical element is greater at higher travel speeds.
The combination of CVT transmission and Liebherr Power Efficiency (LPE) software is said to generate potential fuel savings of 30% over comparative models. The LPE software continuously monitors the engine, transmission and hydraulic system, as well as driver input, to ensure the loader is constantly running at optimal performance.
Liebherr’s XPower range has also benefitted from the introduction of new Tier 4 Final emissions compliant engines with the L 586 being fitted with a six-cylinder Liebherr engine, which delivers 263kW at a maximum of 1800RPM with maximum torque coming at a mere 1300RPM.
Phil Davies, manager of aggregate production at Cefn Mawr quarry, said: “Once we had the demonstration machine we knew we were going to be happy with the new models. We have seen an increase in performance and a marked decrease in the amount of fuel we use. Fuel, and now AdBlue, play a major role in the costing of equipment and the loaders are using very little in the way of AdBlue. We use 10 litre tubs at a time in a bid to avoid any cross contamination. Fuel returns have been promising with the Liebherr LiDat system telling us we are using an average of 18.2 litres per hour. Both machines are now moving in excess of 1800 tonnes of material per shift and this means our product costs less per tonne to produce now, which can only be a good thing. Both loaders have been totally reliable so far and all through the demonstration, purchase and commissioning procedure Liebherr and its Wheeled Loader Specialist Colin Scott have been excellent to deal with.”
Both L 586 XPower machines at Cefn Mawr quarry have been taken on a six-year operating lease, with all maintenance being carried out by technicians from Liebherr’s nearby Wigan depot, although if there is a problem there are a number of home-based fitters situated nearby. “We can’t envisage any issues with the machines. They are well built and very much on top of the job,” added Davies.
Unlike many wheeled loader designs, the Liebherr XPower range does away with a large counterweight, instead relying on the positioning of the engine to balance the machine. This has allowed Liebherr engineers to streamline the rear canopy and allows for simple and easy access to all major components. The large hydraulic opening bonnet also doubles up as a sturdy working platform when accessing the engine compartment. The repositioning of the engine and lack of a large transmission has allowed the cooling pack to be moved to a location in front of the engine and away from potential sources of contamination.
Access to the redesigned Liebherr cab is via an angled ladder underneath the nearside of the cab. Situated adjacent to the auto greasing system and the screenwash reservoir, the steps provide safe and easy access. The cab’s redesigned structure gives far greater forward vision thanks to the new windscreen which incorporates fully glazed lower corners. The adjustable steering column allows the operator to position the wheel to their exact liking and this, coupled with the fully adjustable seat and joystick pod, can accommodate whatever configuration suits the individual driver. While the Hanson machines are equipped with a steering wheel, Liebherr also offers a proportional joystick steering option. Liebherr’s full colour touch screen has been fitted to a sliding rail that allows the operator to position the unit wherever they want on the cab pillar. The screen shows all machine functions, gives an intuitive route for the operator to tailor the machine’s operation and relays the image from the bonnet-mounted rear-view camera. The radio and all other switch gear is mounted neatly in small panels above the front windscreen. Storage space is ample with cup holders, oddment bins and a space behind the seat to store larger items. For those wanting an open window when operating, both the door and offside window have sliding sections fitted.
One regular operator of one of the L 586 XPower wheeled loaders at Cefn Mawr quarry, Richie Shawcross, said: “It is a lovely machine to drive and much more comfortable than any other machine I’ve driven. The controls are smooth and there is plenty of power at all times. The touch screen allows me to do my daily fluid checks without having to lift the bonnet.”
The Liebherr joystick, which is built into the operator’s seat, allows all working and manoeuvring operations to be performed with a high degree of precision and sensitivity. The new electro-hydraulic system allows the operator to programme the lift arm and bucket positions from the cab. The tipping speed for crowding and dumping the bucket can be regulated individually and quickly via the touch screen display.
The two wheeled loaders at Cefn Mawr have been specified with longer loader arms and give approximately 450mm more reach and lift height over the standard versions. The higher lift arrangement has been chosen as the machines will occasionally need to load one of the site’s fleet of 65 tonne capacity dump trucks. “Our previous machines struggled to do this,” explained Davies, “but the new Liebherr’s have plenty of clearance over the skip.” The Liebherr models’ ability to load the 65tonne capacity quarry truck in six passes before turning its attention to loading a 44tonne gross artic showed the versatility of the long arm configuration. Both machines carry identical capacity buckets of 5.5m3. One has been equipped with teeth for face loading while the second is a general purpose unit for rehandling of the finished product. In a bid to up productivity on the site, both machines have been supplied with the latest in digital weigh loader technology in the shape of RDS’ Loadmaster Alpha 50 system.
Loading from a compacted stockpile of blasted material, the hydrostatic transmission on the L 586 XPower wheeled loader came into play at Cefn Mawr quarry distributing power equally to all four wheels, which have Michelin XLD tyres. With no wheel spin or bellowing engine sound, each loader eased into the pile and reversed out with a full bucket every time. Liebherr claims the XPower driveline can also reduce tyre wear on the loaders by up to 25%.