Porter Press Extra: HMC Contracting

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer


DOW checks out the Hyundai R140W-9 wheel excavators used by HMC Contracting that features a unique bucket design

There are a couple of things that make you do a double-take when you pass by a drainage maintenance job being performed by Hamish McDonnell’s HMC Contracting team. First, his Hyundai R140W-9 wheel excavators aren’t the norm. In New Zealand, we live in a tracked world by and large, but for Hamish and the type of maintenance work he undertakes every day, rubber on the road is much more beneficial.

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As for the business end, that’s unique, too. With his specialised bucket design—matched with the smooth, manoeuvrable nature of the Hyundai R140W-9—Hamish says he is twice as productive as he would be if he was utilising conventional equipment.

"The bucket has been designed to scrape and create the shape of the water table as the operator moves along. The wheeled excavator allows for a smooth, quick pull-back, meaning the trench is being shaped immediately," he says.

"It also means that we’re covering up to two-and-a-half kilometres a day if the conditions are right. A conventional bucket on a crawler would probably cover 750m to a kilometre in the same environment, so it really does improve our efficiency."

HMC Contracting's Hyundai wheel excavators

Hamish has been running HMC Contracting for 12 years and his experience with Hyundai’s wheel excavators goes back to around 2008.

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"As far as I’m aware, I think I actually purchased the very first ‘dash 9’ Hyundai wheel excavator in the country. It was a bit of a learning experience, but Porter Equipment was absolutely awesome to deal with.

"While we were bedding the machine in, there were a few technical issues, but Porters were so quick off the mark with getting things sorted. It was that experience that has led me to stick with them over the years; they remain very good to deal with," Hamish says.

The 13.7-tonne Hyundai R140W-9 sits in the sweet spot for the sort of work Hamish is tasking it with, he says. Hyundai’s wheel excavator lineup consists of four standard models (between 5.5- and 21-tonne), as well as four additional materials handling versions with hydraulic cab-lift functionality.

Hamish says he likes the fact Porter Equipment specs its Hyundai machines in a manner that means they’re ready to go as soon as they arrive on-site. Cab protection, driver comfort and convenience functions, handy front dozer blade and robust multi-purpose dual tyres are all part of the deal. The only addition HMC Contracting has made is that unique bucket up front.

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"The bucket was actually designed by a mate of mine; he only fabricated three of them that I know of. I have two of them and I believe the other one is owned by Inframax in the King Country," he says.

"It’s a very clever design and works so much better than a conventional bucket for what we’re doing, which lets you dig out material but doesn’t form the water table shape. Also, using a conventional bucket would mean you need to site the machine further out into the roadway. If you look at how Mike is driving the digger here, he’s actually nice and close to the bank with a good view of the channel. He just backs along, scoops up the material, then dumps it into the truck—easy."

"The rubber tyre machine also means our clean-up is faster. We can get the machine away from the site quickly, which lets our traffic control guys get normal flow operating again. That’s another aspect to what we do that our clients really like."

HMC Contracting business

HMC Contracting’s bread-and-butter work involves sub-contracting on general road and drainage maintenance throughout the Waipa District.

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"We complete a whole host of tasks such as roadside drainage maintenance and culvert installs, as well as emergency work such as slip removal. Basically, I like it when it rains a lot because that means we’ll be pretty busy," Hamish laughs.

The wheel excavators come into their own when it comes to scheduling work, too, Hamish says. With an on-road top speed of around 60km/h, moving between various work sites isn’t an issue and can be completed quickly.

"Over the years, we’ve honed our work methods pretty well I think. We’re always careful to schedule maintenance work on an area-by-area basis, so we can get in, complete a variety of clean-up jobs or whatever needs doing in one area, before moving on to the next.

"I do still transport machines; sometimes you can’t avoid it. But a mix of scheduling work logically and the ability for the wheel excavator operators to self-drive between sites means we’re not endlessly tied into waiting for a low-loader to turn up before we can move on from a completed job."

This process becomes a bigger factor for Hamish and his crew when the area he’s covering is considered.

The Waipa District stretches across to Pirongia in the west, down to Lake Arapuni in the south and almost as far as Matamata in the east. Splitting the District into five sections and organising work accordingly helps.

So the next time you’re at a ‘stop-go’ control in the Waikato and you spy a wheel excavator operating up ahead. Take a note of whether it has HMC Contracting’s livery on the rear. If it does, chances are the attachment up front will be worth a second look as you pass by.

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