LICENCE TO drill
Tough conditions mean tough equipment needed, but not at the expense of manoeuvrability and operator comfort. In an intense quarry environment, one specialist detonation company chose a Furukawa FRD rock drill to get the job done
In the nine-to-five grind it might be easy to lose sight of what a quarry is other than a massive pit in the ground worked hours on end, day in day out, to garner useful materials and natural resources. Yet to ‘big kid’ outsiders it might all seem just like a massive grown-up’s playground. Huge earthmovers and tip trucks scooping up, ripping out and hauling copious amounts of rock, dirt or earth, cutting a dusty swathe that traces their paths and movements throughout the worksite.
Yet, as with any young kids enjoying the muck, it’s not great if said kid’s toys break or fail on them, or just don’t function as they should compared to the other kids’ stuff, so you’ve got to have the right gear for proper playground ‘sandpit’ cred.
At Hanson’s Quarry at Williamsdale on the NSW/ACT border – a medium-sized site by gargantuan quarry standards, with a bench height roughly about 17m – we took a quick look around there to see how operator Southern Explosives Supplies (SES) was taking to its new ‘toy’ – a Furukawa FRD HCR1500 ED Series II drill, which it purchased recently from the Porter Group.
By all accounts the staff there are elated with the durability, power and performance of the product.
“In comparison [to others] it’s easy to operate; it drills really fast and it’s very, very comfortable. It’s just a nice drill to operate,” SES head driller Matt Chalker says.
“It definitely has enough power for the hard Basalt rock here; it handles it easily.
“The Furukawa works ‘all day’ – we drill for 12-hour shifts here. It’s air-conditioned in the cabin and it has a good heater in it for cold days,” he says.
“The drill is highly manoeuvrable, especially with the reverse camera, so you can see right around, with the mirrors. It’s really easy to move around on the site.
“Also, it’s got a special mode in it so you can’t actually operate anything until the hydraulics are warmed up,” Chalker says,
We have noticed an increase in meters per hour and also an increase in the quality and accuracy of the holes that are drilled
“which is a good thing. So it only takes about five minutes until it’s all warmed up and then you can operate.”
A key attribute to the success of the Furukawa FRD is that the drill [bit] can just be changed easily and quickly and there’s no specialist needed to do so.
“The drill that’s on there now is about $180,” SES supervisor Daniel Gauntlet says. “They probably last about six changes with sharpening, which we do – we have all the equipment to do that.
“Some companies don’t; they just use them until they [the drill bits] are dead then throw them out. But cost wise it’s better to re-sharpen and use them again, we find.”
SES was formed in 1980 by current director Brian Grigg. He started the company as he wanted to provide the quarrying, civil construction and mining industries with a professional and reliable drill and blast contracting service, which has a passion for what it does.
Southern Explosives Supplies now has a fleet of 12 drill rigs and a team of six full-time drillers with Certificate 3s in drilling operations, four licensed shot firers, two blast surveyors and various contractors to ensure operations run smoothly.
So how did the SES and Porter Group relationship come about?
“SES approached Porter Group as we were in the market for several new drill rigs as new additions to our fleet,” Gauntlet explains. “Porter Group was chosen as they are the local distributor for Furukawa gear.
“We found them to be very professional and easy to get along with. They made the delivery of our first machine an absolute dream and did what was necessary to meet our needs.
“We chose to purchase an FRD as our friends at Morrison Rock Drilling Services use these rigs and had nothing but good things to say about them.
“So far in the time we have been using these rigs we have noticed an increase in meters per hour and also an increase in the quality and accuracy of the holes that are drilled,” he adds.
So just how does the Furukawa FRD from Porter mesh with the machinations of the rest of the SES capital equipment fleet?
“SES Operates a total of 12 drill rigs,” Gauntlet says. “So far we only have one rig from Porter, but have a second on the way. With the need to keep our fleet reliable there are views of an ongoing relationship with Porter Group in future.”
Overall, the drill and blast industry is currently thriving with the constant need for rock to be either extracted or moved – whether that be for mineral extraction, crushing for aggregate, or if there’s rock that needs to be blasted because it’s simply in the way.
However, with any industry that is thriving, there is also a lot of competition. Southern Explosive Supplies is creating a benchmark by providing a professional drill and blast service, and Porter will assist SES’s service capabilities by supplying new equipment, Gauntlet says.
Porter serves a number of industries: quarry and mining; construction, recycle and landfill; industrial and agricultural; and forestry industries. It supplies a range of quality new or used vehicles and parts for purchase or hire. These include: dumpers, dump trucks, excavators, graders, loaders, rollers and water carts.
It delivers successful global brands to suit all applications, such as Hyundai, Furukawa, Madill, NC and ASV, to “resolve the machine-operator-application problem”.
And it’s all backed up by solid after-sales service and highly trained technicians, the company says.
The Porter Group, established in 1945, supplies world-leading brands through sales and rentals in four countries — New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Southern California in the United States.
Furukawa’s history lies in the operation of copper mines and it’s been contributing to industrial development in Japan for more than 130 years.
It has developed and applied its technologies and products in diversified fields in response to the demands of the times, the company states, adding that in the rock-drilling business it has strengthened its overseas sales network and is meeting demand as one of the major international rock drill manufacturers.
Far left: The
FRD HCR1500 ED Series II rock drill Left: Hanson’s Quarry at Williamsdale
SES bought the rig on the recommendation of Morrison Rock Drilling Services
It definitely has enough power for the hard Basalt rock here; it handles it easily