Porter Press Extra: Russell Roads

By: Cameron Officer , Photography by: Cameron Officer

The latest BOMAG BW161 AC combination roller effectively does the job of two machines for the Russel Road crew working along a busy stretch of State Highway Two

The last time Deals On Wheels caught up with Robbie Gale at Russell Roads in Hastings, he had recently purchased the company and merged it with his own, CPM, to form a major civil works entity.

The BOMAG BW161 AC combination roller is the first example of BOMAG’s single drum and rubber combi machine series to arrive in NZ

Since that visit back in 2016, Russell Roads has gone from strength to strength in Hawke’s Bay. What began as a team of 17 people, now numbers over one hundred. With its own asphalt plant and quarries in the mix, Russell Roads is now a true ‘river to road’ infrastructure contractor.

The Russell Roads livery is a familiar sight out on the roads around the province, with a variety of machines working a large number of projects, both on the main arterial routes and further off the beaten track.

The new machine hard at work on State Highway Two

The company’s latest addition to the machine fleet happens to be hard at work on State Highway Two, just north of the Napier Airport precinct near the appropriately named beachside settlement of Bayview.

Those views of the bay are indeed fantastic. But there’s no time for gazing at container ships out to sea for the team working this stretch of tarmac, which is in the process of being widened.

The operator’s seat rotates to reduce neck stress

The new BOMAG BW161 AC combination roller

The new machine is a BOMAG BW161 AC combination roller; new to Robbie and new to the country. This is the first example of BOMAG’s single drum and rubber combi machine series to arrive in New Zealand.

"The new BOMAG is light-years ahead of any other roller we’ve used on the road. It’s an impressive machine and effectively gives you two machines in one, so we can work faster,"
says Robbie.

Speaking of light-years—or lights of the illuminating kind anyway—Russell Roads’ BOMAG BW161 AC offers the road crew a clever system designed to give its operator the utmost efficiency out on the job.

BOMAG’s Economizer system makes everything going on under the machine measurable and visible. Based around a series of lights displayed on the operator console, the system shows the operator the degree of compaction in order to obtain the best compaction results across every inch of aggregate.

BOMAG’s Economizer system makes everything going on under the machine measurable and visible

The Economizer system automatically determines compaction progress using the light strip to indicate between one and 10 lights how compact the aggregate under the machine is.

Depending on how soft or hard the material is, the system will relay the info straight to the driver, meaning the risk of over-compaction is essentially eliminated.

The BOMAG BW161 AC also features an asphalt temperature sensor, giving the road crew extra vital information right inside the machine cab in real-time. In all, fewer passes, and a faster job mean bigger savings on both time and fuel for the Russell Roads crew.

"Raewyn Ditmar who is operating this machine has been on our staff for 15 years and is a real expert when it comes to getting the best finish on a road surface," says Robbie.

The wide opening hood allows easy access to component

"But even with her experience, the new machine makes the job much simpler. Add to that all the mod-cons like Bluetooth phone connectivity and a great air conditioning system and it’s like Raewyn has had a full office upgrade," he laughs.

The benefits for Robbie’s team are straightforward; less fuel, less labour cost and fewer machine movements. "It was a logical move to utilise this sort of technology and we haven’t looked back," he says.

Compact power

It’s an impressive machine and effectively gives you both a compactor and roller in one

The BOMAG working on the road-widening project out at Bayview isn’t the only new Russell Roads machine on-site here though. Robbie says he also purchased a new 14.5-tonne Hyundai R145CRD-9 crawler excavator for the job­—a machine that joins a few other pre-existing examples of the same model on the Russell Roads fleet.

"I really like the 14.5-tonne reduced radius Hyundai diggers; they give us a good mix of horsepower matched with a relatively compact size. The biggest benefit to us is that they fit snugly within a traffic lane on jobs such as what we’re doing on State Highway Two.

"Journey management is a massive deal these days, so we need to be very conscious of how we set up a roadside work site," Robbie continues.

"It’d be great to have a 20-tonner—or even a 35-tonner—out there because there’s so much material to shift. But because those bigger machines don’t manoeuvre within their own body length, we can’t use them. We can’t shut down lanes on a road like State Highway Two, so we choose machines to fit the geography, rather than go for maximum bucket size.

"It’s a balancing act, but our reputation lies in how safely and efficiently we can complete key work like this, so we have to make sure the public can transit the site in the safest manner without unnecessary hold-ups. That means using machines which don’t impact on traffic corridors."

Hiring with Porter Equipment

"You have to hand it to Porters; they really do provide the total package"

With a large portfolio of roading projects to complete this year, traffic management is constantly on Robbie’s mind. In addition to the road-widening project and other jobs on around urban Napier and Hastings, Russell Roads is also working on slip remediation along a 57km-long stretch of road around Wairoa on the East Cape (where the company has a satellite maintenance yard).

The company will also commence stringing 27km of road separation wire with a specially imported machine in the next few weeks.

With machinery on the go in almost every corner of the province, Robbie says the back-up that Porter Equipment provides his team is invaluable. A bit like his own company, which stands behind its end-to-end service offering, he sees the wider Porter Group as providing the same comprehensive support.

"Not only have we never had any major issue with a Hyundai or BOMAG machine on our fleet but we have also always had fantastic service from Porter Equipment," he says.

"Our local territory manager in Napier-Hastings, Roger Pedersen, is excellent to deal with; he just makes everything so easy. You have to hand it to Porters; they really do provide the total package, with good gear, good parts supply, good finance packages, and they can even assist with hire equipment at the drop of a hat when it’s needed.

"When you add the sort of technology that companies they represent here, such as BOMAG, are now delivering, it’s win-win for us."

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