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Island assignment

Hitachi ZX350LCH-5 Excavator CablePrice NZ QM Magazine Featured Image

A new Hitachi ZX350LCH-5 excavator from CablePrice cuts its teeth on Great Barrier Island.

With Fulton Hogan only able to undertake 40 days of crushing a year under its consent at the remote Blackwells Quarry on Great Barrier Island, there is simply no room for mechanical breakdowns, says resources manager, Mark Cameron.

“Reliability is the key because if anything breaks down, we lose crushing days and there is only limited mechanical support on the island.”

Just prior to Christmas the company’s mobile crushing team returned from its annual stint on the island, with the latest addition to its fleet, a brand new Hitachi ZX350LCH-5 excavator from CablePrice, passing the reliability test with flying colours.

“We had no issues or breakdowns, and the Hitachi’s productivity was fantastic. Its power and break-out as it fed raw material into the crusher’s feed hopper were particularly impressive.”

Hitachi ZX350LCH-5 Excavator CablePrice NZ QM Magazine Content Image
Hitachi ZX350LCH-5 Excavator CablePrice NZ QM Magazine Content Image

Blackwells Quarry is located to the west of the Medlands settlement area on Great Barrier. It produces all grades of metal, supplying most of the island’s roading aggregate needs, thereby avoiding the cost and hassle of importing aggregate to the community.

An older 20T Hitachi excavator and rock breaker remain at the site year-round, with the rest of the gear, including the new excavator, a crusher, loader and transporter, barged to and from the island for the annual month-and-a-bit of crushing.

Mark says Fulton Hogan’s resources division has purchased a couple of second-hand Hitachi diggers from CablePrice to send to Great Barrier in the past, but this is the first “brand spanking new” Hitachi machine to become part of the mobile crushing fleet for this purpose.

“Our long-term employee Lei Lui is the fulltime operator of the new Hitachi. He has operated numerous brands, so we gave him the choice of which new machine he wanted and he chose Hitachi. He specced the machine himself, absolutely loves it, and looks after it so well it still looked brand new when it left Great Barrier.”

Mark says Lei is particularly impressed by the operator comfort and visibility in the roomier cab, which has a larger door and more glass than previous models.

“A lot of other diggers have blind spots, but there is great visibility in the Hitachi cab. The coolie box which keeps Lei’s drinks cold is a nice touch, and he enjoys the ease of the digger’s electronic operation compared to the old machine he was operating.”

Fuel economy is another area where the Hitachi is measuring up, given its fuel-efficient IT4 emission-certified Isuzu diesel engine, which has been designed to deliver power in all conditions.

“Fuel efficiency is particularly important in an environment like Great Barrier Island where fuel is so expensive,” says Mark.

Fulton Hogan is harnessing the new excavator’s remote monitoring capabilities through Owner’s Site and ConSite, which gives around the clock online access to the machine’s location, its health, utilisation, fuel consumption, and other valuable information.

“It’s a great tool which enables us to receive global reports, and even do things remotely. Our workshop team receives the reports so can keep a close eye on things like average monthly temperature, coolants, hydraulic oils, pump pressures, fuel consumption, efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions. Although the machine is currently under a maintenance and service agreement with CablePrice, it’s great for our operator and wider team to have this information at their fingertips.”

Once back in Auckland the new workhorse was straight back on the job feeding the mobile crusher at the Whitford Quarry – a rock quarry at Whitford, which is operated by Fulton Hogan on behalf of the owners, Auckland Council.

“The Hitachi will also be used as a backup to the big digger at Whitford, supporting it to load dump trucks when necessary. It will be totally utilised.”

The production of high quality construction materials from over 45 different sites throughout New Zealand and Australia is central to Fulton Hogan’s business as a leading contractor and construction firm.

Although based in Auckland, the new Hitachi will travel with the mobile crushing operation to Fulton Hogan’s other quarry projects and will service its contracts with outside clients in the North Island.

Mark says the relationship between Fulton Hogan’s Auckland-based resource division and CablePrice is still in its early stages as far as the purchase of a new machine is concerned.

However he has been impressed by the service and support he has received from the company so far.

“We had a great induction from sales person Malcolm Pascoe and are very happy with the machine after its first two-and-a-half months of service. There have definitely been no issues or problems.”

The warranty offered by CablePrice was another plus, he says.

“It was definitely ahead of some of the other brands in the market. Although it will be at least 12 months before we can truly benchmark the Hitachi against the other brands in our fleet, it’s been fantastic so far. We look forward to years of good service ahead from both this machine, and CablePrice.”

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