The gas and water sectors are specialty areas for excavation companies requiring a broad mix of skills from operators and often heavy demands on machinery. Ned O’Neill from Roadbridge Excavations says it’s been their Kobelco range of machines that have always delivered the high-end results required by their clients. It’s been a mixture of performance, efficiencies and reliability which allowed them to dig their way to success.
Based in Victoria and focusing mostly on greater Melbourne areas, Ned has been busy working for the main water and gas authorities while slowly building his fleet of Kobelcos over the last 15 years. During this time Ned has progressively stepped across into bigger and higher demand machines. Ned’s most recent Kobelco purchase was the SK380XDLC excavator, which was an obvious choice due to its heavier 38-tonne operating weight and extra heavy-duty configuration.
The XD machines are built extra tough for extreme work environments and have enjoyed a considerable amount of beefing up in several areas. From the new XD boom with thicker/stronger plates to the side deck bumpers, upper under covers, reinforced guide frame, track guides, track links, reinforced travel motor cover and lower frame underside cover, there are plenty of upgrades that make this XD the perfect choice for high demand operations.
The main advantages for Ned and his team at Roadbridge come from the thicker, heavier duty boom, which allows the team to operate heavy-duty attachments like large 4-tonne hammers, which they operate almost daily. This ability to utilise power-heavy attachments speeds up their work and keeps their clients happy by meeting deadlines and the quality of their excavations. The power and performance of the SK380XDLC also means there is less stress on the machine itself, which has been specifically designed to run at optimum levels with these types of highly demanding heavy attachments. The addition of the new arm interflow system more efficiently controls hydraulic fluid flow and delivers a significant reduction of in-line resistance and pressure loss, which in turn improves fuel efficiency.
Comfort and visibility were also high on the design priority list for operators. Paddy Corrigan is the main operator in Roadbridge’s new 38-tonne XD machine and after watching him rip into the day’s duties, the significance and importance of comfort, good visibility and a well laid-out cabin and controls really hit home. “We are often working on busy sites with large hammers and other attachments, so having the controls exactly where I need them with the ability to configure the cabin and seat allows me to get into the zone where I can operate at my best without distractions and in complete comfort. The removal of vibration and loud noise means even at the end of the day I’m not fatigued both mentally and physically. My production and efficiencies are high with excellent safety throughout the day,” said Paddy.
As I reviewed the GoPro footage of Paddy working, I could see exactly what he was saying because he looked like the machine was an extension of himself as he ripped in. On our day of filming it was only 26 degrees, but the day before had been well into the mid-30s and with the AC doing its job well, Paddy shared, “The conditions in the cab were absolutely mint. It was nice and cool even in the hottest part of the day. On the flipside on those freezing mid-winter days the heater and heated seat keep my backside nice and warm. There’s absolutely nothing to complain about there.”
Ned’s passion for earthmoving started back in his homeland of Ireland when his uncle taught him how to operate a mixture of earthmoving equipment when he was just a small boy. After some time in the industry as a young man, Ned served as a stainless steel fabricator and worked in this area for five or six years, but when Ned moved to Australia in 1998 it was the earthmoving industry that was calling. It was a calling Ned couldn’t ignore and today Roadbridge Excavations is a major player in the water and gas sector. “I originally started working with another brand of machine, but after exploring what Kobelco machines had to offer, it was a combination of price, fuel economy, power/performance and comfort of the Kobelcos which saw me step into my first machine. Today, we are running six Kobelcos, which we have purchased from Simon Gillespie at Melbourne Tractors. Simon’s been great to deal with and when we had one or two mechanical issues the Melbourne Tractor team had us back up and running quickly. Melbourne Tractors helped us streamline our operation and took the hard work out of both purchasing and servicing our machines,” shared Ned.
During our visit to Melbourne we also spent time onsite with Simon Gillespie and while chatting, he shared some history about his relationship with Ned and Roadbridge Excavations. “I had only been in my role with Melbourne Tractors for two months when Ned purchased his first machine from me. So, it’s safe to say as one of my first clients it’s been a pleasure to work with Ned and his team and help them grow.” Simon continued, “When discussing Ned’s requirements over the years, I’ve built up quite a good understanding of what Roadbridge Excavations really need in their daily operations, and I knew the SK380XDLC would be a perfect fit for multiple reasons. With Roadbridge’s requirements for heavier and higher performance attachments, the heavy duty features and performance of the XD was going to be perfect for outfits like Ned’s looking to ramp up production in and around the heavier 38-tonne range. The fact that the XD also comes with great fuel economy, impressive hydraulic power and excellent comfort are the finishing touches that are seeing many earthmoving operations step across into the larger Kobelco machines – something that only a few years back would not have traditionally happened to this extent. It’s a positive sign that Kobelco has lifted its game with its larger machines and the industry is taking notice.”
Written by: Earthmoving Equipment Magazine