Easy un­load­ing with Hyundai wheel load­ers at Oreco Group

At Oreco Group Childers, six Hyundai wheel load­ers are mak­ing quick work of un­load­ing sugar cane for com­posit­ing and bal­ing. Ran­dall John­ston dropped by to see them in ac­tion

Earthmovers & Excavators - - Contents - Words and images: Ran­dall John­ston

The sugar cane har­vest in the Bund­aberg re­gion of Queens­land starts around June and is gen­er­ally on­go­ing un­til about De­cem­ber of each year. The leafy tops of the plant are what the team at Aus­tralia’s largest sugar cane mulch man­u­fac­turer Oreco Group Childers use to cre­ate its pop­u­lar gar­den mulch.

Ideal for veg­etable gar­dens, it’s also use­ful for gen­eral gar­den use as “a good all-rounder”.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion has been busy sup­ply­ing the likes of Bun­nings and nurs­eries na­tion­wide for many years with its mulch, which is pack­aged at its Isis Cen­tral premises near Childers in the Bund­aberg Re­gion of Queens­land. The site sits just a bit fur­ther down the road from the his­toric Isis Cen­tral Sugar Mill, which has been op­er­at­ing since 1897.

In ad­di­tion to the sugar cane mulch they also pro­duce soil mixes. One is a pot­ting mix, an­other is a soil im­prover. Childers also pro­duce loos­ened pea straw mulch and a few dif­fer­ent types of bark mulch.

Sugar cane needs 12 months to grow to a full height of two to four me­tres tall and is nor­mally ready to chop around mid-year, so things re­ally start to get busy for the team around June.

Oreco Group Childers of­fice man­ager, Kerry Durie, says the busi­ness at Childers has dou­bled its num­ber of em­ploy­ees since she came on board back in 2013.

“We are har­vest­ing the sugar cane that we use for our sugar cane mulch prod­uct our­selves for the first time this year, but a lot of the lo­cal sugar cane grow­ers still sup­ply us too,” she ex­plains, as she takes EEM through the ma­chin­ery they use to har­vest and process the sugar cane. The com­post­ing fa­cil­ity it­self has an an­nual ca­pac­ity of over 100,000 cu­bic me­ters of com­post, which will even­tu­ally be packed into a mix­ture of loose-fill bags and com­pressed bales at Childers’ au­to­mated packing fa­cil­ity.

A true fam­ily busi­ness, Kerry has two sons and daugh­ter who all work within the busi­ness and are gain­ing valu­able skills and train­ing with each year that passes.

We are har­vest­ing sugar cane (our­selves) for the first time this year.

The pro­cess­ing process

Durie says that it’s quite a big job to get the prod­uct from its raw form to be­ing ready for dis­tri­bu­tion to home im­prove­ment stores and nurs­eries na­tion­wide, es­pe­cially the sugar cane mulch that is Childers’ core busi­ness.

“The sugar mills go in and har­vest the cane and we wait for about seven to 10 days for the leaf mat­ter to dry out. Then we come in and rake, bale and trans­port it to the fac­tory here,” she ex­plains.

“Once it’s here in the fac­tory and goes through a process of grind­ing to make it a more us­able size, we bale it into com­pressed bales.”

The sugar cane tops go through quite a rig­or­ous treat­ment process be­tween ar­riv­ing at the fac­tory in bales and be­ing ready for pack­ag­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion. The grinder first breaks it down be­fore con­veyor belts with dif­fer­ent screen sizes se­lect the right size pieces.

“It goes through dust ex­trac­tion,” says Durie, “and we try to get as much of the fines and soil from the pad­dock out of the prod­uct as pos­si­ble.”

Once all this is done, the cane then goes through to the bail­ing ma­chines and out for de­liv­ery.

Easy to han­dle

All of this pro­cess­ing across dif­fer­ent sites re­quires a lot of ma­chin­ery to en­sure it all goes smoothly.

“Aside from the Hyundai wheel loader; we have six trac­tors, two bail­ing units, two rakes and two scoops to help us with the sugar cane har­vest,” says Durie.

“When I started in 2013, we only had one front end loader at the com­post site.

When that was in use we did ev­ery­thing else with a fork­lift with a bucket at­tach­ment fixed to it, which took much longer and wasn’t ideal for mov­ing the dirt and fill­ing the hop­per.”

Childers cur­rently has five HL740TM-9 and HL760-9 Hyundai wheel load­ers pro­vided by Porter Group that are used to un­load the hay trucks, “which are al­most con­stantly coming in”, she says.

The ‘TM’ stands for Tool Mas­ter, which sim­ply means you can use the quick hitch to have a wide range of dif­fer­ent at­tach­ments on it, in­clud­ing forks, which are es­sen­tial for load­ing and un­load­ing the hay bales on­site.

They’ve been us­ing these ma­chines for the past four to five years and Durie says she can’t fault the ma­chines’ re­li­a­bil­ity and af­ter­sales ser­vice pro­vided to them by the Porter Group Queens­land branch over the years.

“Porter Group are very good to deal with and keep up to date,” Durie says.

“Porter Group Bris­bane field ser­vice tech­ni­cian Jonathan Wet­zel had been great to deal with and sends us a re­minder when our ma­chines are due for ser­vice and they come on­site to do reg­u­lar main­te­nance once they’ve done 4-500 hours.”

The Tier 3 HL760-9 and HL740-9 wheel load­ers both have a six-cylin­der Cum­mins QSB6.7 en­gine (160kW) that is elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled for op­ti­mal fuel to air ra­tio, and has three op­er­a­tor modes (Power/Stan­dard/ Econ­omy).

Both have an en­larged cabin to im­prove op­er­a­tor vis­i­bil­ity, fall­ing ob­ject and rollover pro­tec­tion sys­tems, and a new colour

LCD dis­play that makes it easy to check ev­ery­thing from water tem­per­a­ture to en­gine con­di­tion.

“We don’t like to keep the driv­ers wait­ing long,” adds Durie, “so we need good mod­ern load­ers that are quick and easy to op­er­ate.

“This ma­chin­ery is much bet­ter suited to the job, more suit­able for our needs and it makes the job a lot quicker and eas­ier for the guys.”

Durie says she is spoilt for good op­er­a­tors who are skilled at op­er­at­ing the ma­chin­ery.

“Most peo­ple in the area grow up on farms or have jobs that re­quire them to op­er­ate wheel load­ers and the like.

“We are us­ing the HL740TM-9 pri­mar­ily to un­load the hay trucks when they ar­rive and to stack the shed. Our in-feed op­er­a­tors also use it to feed the hop­per, which feeds the prod­uct on through to the bag­ging area be­fore it goes out onto the trucks for dis­tri­bu­tion.

“We try to train most of our staff so that they are con­fi­dent in us­ing wheel load­ers so they can help out when needed.”

The team at Oreco Group Childers are in the mid­dle of peak sugar cane har­vest sea­son and still have a few very busy months ahead, and with Aussies’ ob­ses­sion with gar­den­ing and land­scap­ing prod­ucts un­likely to wane, the oper­a­tion con­tin­ues to grow and pro­vide vi­tal jobs and train­ing for peo­ple in the Bund­aberg re­gion.

Far left: Oreco Group Childers of­fice man­ager, Kerry Durie, on siteLeft: Two Hyundai HL760-9 load­ers at the com­posit­ing fa­cil­ity

Hyundai HL740-9 loader with a screen­ing unit in back­ground

The Hyundai HL740-9 load­ing the hop­per The Hyundai HL760-9 has the larger 3.3 cu­bic me­tre (heaped) bucket size

Left: The ver­sa­tile HL740-9 with hay fork at­tach­ment in use

We need good mod­ern load­ers that are quick and easy to op­er­ate.

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