Earthworks and aggregates: KB Contracting & Quarries Ltd

By: Cameron Officer

Earthworks and aggregates: KB Contracting & Quarries Ltd Earthworks and aggregates: KB Contracting & Quarries Ltd
Earthworks and aggregates: KB Contracting & Quarries Ltd Earthworks and aggregates: KB Contracting & Quarries Ltd
Earthworks and aggregates: KB Contracting & Quarries Ltd Earthworks and aggregates: KB Contracting & Quarries Ltd

Experience, a reputation for quality work and an assortment of Porter Equipment-supplied machinery is helping keep Christchurch's KB Contracting & Quarries Ltd ahead of the game.

Mike Blair from KB Contracting & Quarries has been in business long enough to know a good machine when he finds one.

With the Christchurch company enjoying a 45-year history in the earthworks and aggregates businesses, Mike and his father – company founder, Kevin – and brother David have learnt that the key to successfully diversifying is trusting in good gear and good guys.

KBs operates two quarries to the west of the city – one at Miners Road, where they have been for the past 25 years, and a new 250-acre operation at McLeans Island that came on stream at the end of 2014.

"We've also been at the Burwood Landfill for about 35 years," says Mike.

"That's been a good consistent contract to have, although during the earthquakes it all went pretty crazy. All the liquefaction slurry went in there, so we'd have 20 or 30 truck and trailers dumping slurry at a time, with another 30 or 40 trucks out on the haul roads waiting to come in."

Mike shows me some images on his computer, taken from a high vantage point overlooking the landfill, the camera date stamp reading 23/02/11 and the chaotic lines of trucks reflecting the numb state of the city in those first few days following the devastating February earthquake.

"We still have demolition material going into Burwood – and will for a while yet – but we're back down to five or six crew members there now," he continues.

Additionally, KBs are currently completing work at three subdivisions: developing the southern side of the large Prestons Road development for CDL; Stonebrook at Rolleston also for CDL; and ongoing work at their own subdivision, Sovereign Palms in Kaiapoi.

"We actually started developing Kaiapoi before the 'quakes. We thought we'd do 30 lots a year because everything was so quiet. Well, September 2010 came along and Kaiapoi was hit pretty badly with that first big quake, so things started happening in a hurry."

Mike says there are around a thousand sites at Sovereign Palms, with around 700 sections sold and built on.

"We are working in greenfields developments at the moment. We haven't had a chance to get involved in the infrastructure rebuild at this stage, but we will in due course. We have a busy earthworks group and because new housing is always in high demand, we need machines that'll perform consistently."

The need for dependable machinery also extends to the company's large aggregate stockpile around the road from their Bromley depot, where they're operating a Hyundai HL760-9 wheel loader.

KB-Contracting -3

"After the earthquakes we decided to start stockpiling aggregate at the depot," continues Mike.

"All of a sudden we were supplying a large amount of contractors and we had piles of 40/20 and AP65 everywhere. We've just moved the aggregate around the road to an old disused carpet factory with a large hard standing area, which is working very well.

"The Hyundai loader is great. No complaints there at all. Henry, our driver, is happy with it and it certainly has the power to do anything, whenever we need it.

"That's the thing with the yard, you never know what size trucks – or how many – are going to turn up. It could be a ghost town for 20 minutes with one single-axle truck coming through and then all of a sudden you have three artics turn up at once."

The 'dash 9' loader happens to be working at just one of three sites where KB Contracting & Quarries is utilising gear sourced through Porter Equipment.

"Our earthworks crews utilise a couple of BOMAG rollers at the subdivisions. We have a BW25 rubber tyre roller and a BW211D-4. These are the first BOMAG machines we've bought and we're very happy with them so far."

Another recent purchase for KBs is its Sandvik QA451 triple deck double-screen – the Swedish manufacturer's largest model of mobile tracked screen.

Sited at the Miners Road quarry, the high capacity QA451 features a 1200mm-wide main conveyor; unique three-metre-by-1.5-metre in-line vibrating triple deck screenboxes; mid-fines and mid-overs side conveyors; a fines tail conveyor; a 650mm-wide oversize conveyor; and a large volume hopper with a hydraulically adjustable tipping grid, all run through a grunty 100hp (75kW) diesel power unit.

"This machine is a big step up for us," says Miners Road quarry manager Declan Close.

"Everything's hydraulic and this level of automation really makes utilising it that much easier. It's a big investment but we're really making the most of the flexible technology in this thing; it's working hard for us."

Mike says that Porter Equipment's back-up support has been faultless, with Canterbury area sales representative Chris Toase leading the local team.

"Chris is bloody good at his job," admits Mike with a laugh. "You get some sales guys who'll cut the deal, shake your hand and then walk away, never to be seen again. But Chris – and by extension the Porter service guys – hasn't done that at all.

"They go out of their way to know as much about your business as they can. If they've got the knowledge then they're speaking the same language. Chris knows what we're doing, he knows what we need our gear to achieve and he's ready with a solution.

"You can't ask for better really."

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