Notes from Caterpillar’s Quarry Days

By |  July 3, 2013

Caterpillar hosted customers at its second Asia Pacific Quarry Days in Japan. A handful of aggregates trade magazines from around the world, including Pit & Quarry, were also invited to participate in classroom-style presentations and demonstrations about Cat’s latest equipment and technologies. Demonstrations took place at the Cat Demonstration Center in Chichibu, Japan, where all Quarry Days participants were given the opportunity to board equipment and ask questions to company reps.

Proper loading techniques were among the practices demonstrated and discussed in Chichibu. Jason Hurdis, a senior market professional for quarry and aggregates at Cat, stressed a need to complete loads in two minutes or less and achieve cycle times of about 22 seconds between loader and haul truck. Hurdis also noted there’s no need for wheel loader operators to have buckets fully raised while they’re waiting for haul trucks to arrive.

“You could blow a hydraulic hose waiting for the haul truck to arrive,” Hurdis said.

Haul truck operator performance is key to production, as well. Other Cat representatives emphasized the importance of properly positioning haul trucks. One rep said haul trucks should be parked one-and-a-half steering revolutions from truck to pile.

Wheel loaders 101

Don Weinhold, a Cat senior market professional for quarry and aggregates, discussed several of the company’s large wheel loader options and capabilities during a classroom session.

The 986H and 988H wheel loaders are well suited for loading rock into portable crushing plants, Weinhold said, although the 986H is Cat’s truest loader for sand pits. Also, Weinhold noted that the 992K, a wheel loader that’s typically paired with 777 haul trucks, is the largest Cat loader he’d recommend for a quarry application.

Cat’s Performance Series buckets were also discussed.

“These have undergone some design changes to achieve quicker cycle times and reduce fuel,” he said, pointing out that Performance Series buckets improve bucket fuel efficiency between 5 and 7 percent. “You can get material in the bucket faster and keep more material in.”

Weinhold also stressed that operations should ideally seek four to five passes in two minutes or less with Cat’s larger wheel loaders.

Safety focused

Felice Stocco, Cat’s product application manager for global construction and infrastructure, made a short presentation about making quarries safer. He offered a simple 10-item list for aggregate producers to consider:

1. Wear your seatbelt.

2. Ensure operator visibility.

3. Always wear personal protective equipment.

4. Adhere to legally required site-specific training.

5. Respect mobile equipment right of way.

6. Recognize highwall hazards.

7. Conduct walk-around inspections of machines.

8. Avoid slips and falls.

9. Maintain safe distance between machines.

10. Make a commitment to training.

Quarry tour

Members of the trade press participating in Quarry Days visited a Ryoukami Kogyo Co. Ltd. quarry producing greywacke in a mountainous region near Chichibu. Plant manager Hidenori Kurihara spent time with the group, explaining how customer trucks are limited to transporting about 10 to 12 tons of material per trip because the roads in, out and around the quarry are extremely narrow. According to Kurihara, about 300 trucks are loaded on a busy day at the quarry.

The trade press group saw at least 10 trucks departing from Ryoukami Kogyo upon its approach to the quarry. Roads barely provided enough room to accommodate both customer trucks and the group’s bus when trucks needed to pass. Drivers clearly must be skilled to navigate a truckload through this region.

At the quarry, the trade press group was taken up a mountain to see some of the operation’s Cat equipment in action. Ryoukami Kogyo operates several Cat-model haul trucks, including a 769D, two 771Ds and a 772D. The quarry, which produces about 1 million tons per year yet produced about 20 percent less material in 2012, planned to add a 772D to its haul truck fleet this month.

Weinhold, who had previously emphasized the importance of exchange time between excavator and haul truck at Cat’s Demonstration Center, was impressed with the rapport between Ryoukami Kogyo’s equipment operators.

“Their exchange time was excellent,” Weinhold said. “Given the conditions, I thought they did a good job. There was limited time between the next truck arriving.”

Other Cat equipment in use at the Ryoukami Kogyo quarry are five wheel loaders (three 966Hs, one 980H and one 988H); two 385C excavators; and a pair of dozers (D6 and D8).

A unique element of the quarry– at least by U.S. standards – is a shrine that workers assembled with materials from the quarry. According to a quarry employee, workers gather on the 17th day of every month to pray for the safety of every employee. The shrine is dedicated to the god of the mountain, the employee said.

Overcoming operator shortage

One other Quarry Days event Cat hosted was a trade press roundtable with some of its key representatives. Equipment operator shortages in the United States and around the world were discussed at the roundtable. Cat’s 336E H hybrid excavator was also discussed. Click here to read more about the roundtable discussion.

and posted in Editors' Blog
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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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