Special feature: Hitachi EX3600-5

The largest excavator to ship from New Zealand

It was during the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown in March 2020 that Stewart and Marc McSkimming of Global Tractors signed an agreement to strip and send a 90-tonne Hitachi ZX870 -3 (DOW 327) to Shanghai.

Not long after that deal had been secured, a possible connection was spotted with OceanaGold’s not-long retired EX3600-5 and a client in Hong Kong, prompting the Global team to contact the mining company and inquiring if any plans had been made for the disposal of the 360-tonne behemoth.

"The EX 3600-5 had recently been replaced by a new EX 3600-6, so I told OceanaGold that we possibly had a buyer if they wanted to sell," says Stewart.

A week later the answer came back as a confirmed yes, and after some small negotiations, the two parties agreed on a purchase price and the deal was underway.

Work begins on dismantling the 360-tonne Hitachi EX-3600-5
Work begins on dismantling the 360-tonne Hitachi EX-3600-5

"Marc and I looked at each other. We had paid for the machine and then thought, gosh, this would be the first 360-tonne excavator ever to be exported from New Zealand that would be reassembled again to go back to work," says Stewart.

Other smaller units sold by Global Tractors to the client had ended up on barges and although the EX3600-5 had 75,000 hours on the clock, it still had reasonable component life remaining and had been maintained to a high standard.

Prior to being replaced by a newer model, the EX3600-5 would average around 2600-tonnes an hour, loading a 181-tonne payload dump truck with five passes in just 2.5 minutes. Load-outs of up to 50,000 tonnes per shift were not uncommon, according to reports.

Although the deal was cut in April 2020, an amicable agreement was made with OceanaGold for the EX3600-5 to be moved to an assembly pad at the entrance to the mine in November.

Shipping arrangements

"Our client did not want the machine arriving in Hong Kong until December. This gave us ample time to plan the project and arrange a mechanical tear-down team, cranes, transport from Macraes Flat to Port Chalmers, and shipping to Hong Kong," says Stewart.
Notwithstanding the huge task in front of them - disassembling the 360-tonnes, transport of the machine within New Zealand and then to an overseas location - was a massive logistical task.

"Brendon Brock-Smith from NMT had nightmares over the shipping. The consignment, especially the flat racks, were bordering on being overweight, most pieces were over height and over-width."

To boot, the consignment had to land in Hong Kong as one complete shipment, due to local country taxes; in the end there was only one shipping carrier who could satisfy Global Tractors requirements.

A 90-tonne Liebherr and 130-tonne Grove crane were used
A 90-tonne Liebherr and 130-tonne Grove crane were used

"Brendon’s tenacity to stay in the deal actually kept the project on track. Shipping worldwide had changed since Covid-19, especially for this sort of cargo going from New Zealand to some of the South East Asian ports," says Stewart.

Readying for disassembly

One benefit of the lengthy lead-in time was it gave Marc time to plan the packing and lashing of 360 tonnes of iron.

"We had stripped, packed and lashed 200-tonne excavators before, however we knew this was different. It was somewhat unfamiliar to us and probably anyone else in the country," he says.

A target was set with a teardown start scheduled to start on Nov 2. It would be 10-straight days of work - a shut down in mining terms - with a crew and equipment checklist of: Stewart, Marc, four mechanics, two cranes – a 90-tonne Liebherr and a 130-tonne Grove, 11 x 40-foot flat racks and five x 40-foot hi-cube open top containers.

"By day nine, the cranes had left the site, the mechanics were in clean up mode and all the components were on the racks and in the containers," says Stewart.

At day 11, Marc and Stewart had packed up everything after using 530-metres of 10mm chain, 280-metres of 8mm chain, 204 x 8–10mm load binders and 70 x 2.5-tonne cargo strops.

Numerous metres of dunnage, sized from 350mm x 300mm blocks down, were also used to share the point-loading of some of the heavy components on the flat racks. 

"Crane scale measurements showed the EX3600-5 counterweight at 42-tonnes, the main frame at 43-tonnes, and the bucket at 24-tonnes," says Stewart. 

"Additionally, the boom-lift cylinders weighed four-tonnes each, the tracks at 26 tonnes apiece and track frames at 28-tonnes each. The boom was not so bad at 33.5 tonnes."

The big move

The last item on the lengthy ‘to-do’ list was an on-site marine survey to check the team’s work on the flat rack lashings, which was followed by the load out in the second week of December.

"Mainfreight Dunedin relocated all the racks and containers from Port Chalmers to site for us, however they could only transport the five 40-foot hi-cube open top containers back to the port," says Marc.

Stewart and Marc McSkimming
Stewart and Marc McSkimming

Skevingtons from Palmerston were contracted to get the 11 x 40-foot flat racks from site to the port, a distance of some 85 kilometres. 

The racks were all 12-metres long and ranged up to 55-tonnes each loaded, measuring around 3.8-metres wide and up to 4.7-metres high.

"It was not a straightforward cart, given the route from Macrae’s Flat to Port Chalmers and they had a 48-hour window to perform it in, which they did admirably," says Stewart.

"Global Tractors are so proud of all the contractors we put around us to achieve this incredible task. They are true professionals in every sense of word," says Stewart.

For more information contact, globaltractors.co.nz

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