Porter Press Extra: Leach & Co, Wellington

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

Leach & Co has recently purchased a new heavy-duty BOMAG compactor for use at the Southern Landfill in the hills above Wellington

It may have been a bluebird day up here among the dense green peaks and gullies that backdrop the Capital’s suburbs of Owhiro and Island Bays—one of those ones that Wellingtonians reckon can’t be beaten—but being at this altitude can sometimes present a more tumultuous scene, too.

I know this from experience, as the last time

I paid a visit to the Southern Landfill for Deals on Wheels, a howling northerly greeted me and made photographing Leach & Co’s then-new BOMAG BC 772 RB-2 compactor as it chopped its way through refuse, a bit of a challenge to say the least. Sideways rain and a battering wind meant I possibly came away with more photos of the cab interior than were really needed.

BOMAG compactors are built 
specifically for processing refuse
BOMAG compactors are built specifically for processing refuse

That very same machine—14,000 hours and eight years later—is still on-site. But it acts as something of a billboard for what the elements can do up here in the hills, with plenty more battle scars and rust streaks punctuating its bodywork than when it was a magazine cover star back in 2013.

It says a lot about the rugged reliability of machines built by the German manufacturer, however, that Leach & Co have replaced it on the front line with a like-for-like BOMAG BC 772 RB-2.

"The old machine was still fit-for-purpose," says Leach & Co contract manager, Dan Miller. "But with 14,000 hours on the clock, it wasn’t practical to continue relying on it as our main compactor. We strive to maintain all our equipment in good serviceable condition, as we need our machinery to work well for us. But there’s still a point where you have to take the decision to stop investing in plant that’s getting older and look for a more modern alternative.

"The old BOMAG was starting to show its age, but we have been impressed with its performance over the years, so it wasn’t a hard decision to make to work with Porter Equipment and secure another one."

The new Hyundai HL740-9 12-tonner
The new Hyundai HL740-9 12-tonner

In fact, there’s a little bit of ‘history repeating’ at play here. Back in the day, the older BOMAG BC 772 RB-2 also replaced an even older unit from the same brand. According to Dan’s predecessor in the contract manager role at the landfill, Eric Parkins, that one had done around 19,000 hours when it was semi-retired. These machines are certainly built with longevity in mind, and Leach & Co are expecting many thousands of hours’ worth of compacting out of the latest unit.

Built specifically for processing refuse, BOMAG compactors take a belt-and-braces approach to reinforcement, with ruggedised guarding and heavy-duty metalwork used everywhere. Drive components are well protected, while scrapers, which sit in front of and behind each wheel, eliminate debris being pushed up from the wheels towards the operator area.

Those wide polygonal compaction wheels with their solid ‘cutter teeth’ make short work of all manner of household detritus and are designed to chop up everything in their path. The machine’s hydraulic all-wheel drive allows it to mow across mountains of refuse without any drama, while inside the spacious, air-conditioned cab, the operator enjoys an impressive degree of sound deadening, making for a healthier work environment.

The compactor isn’t the only type of BOMAG on-site at the Southern Landfill either. A 14-tonne BOMAG BW213 DH roller also gets through a significant amount of work for the Leach & Co team, completing general purpose landfill work, and roading and tip face maintenance.

BOMAG compactors take a belt-and-braces approach 
to reinforcement
BOMAG compactors take a belt-and-braces approach to reinforcement

"We’ve also recently replaced an older wheel loader with a new Hyundai HL740-9 12-tonner," continues Dan.

"We were leasing our previous loader through Porter Hire but took the decision to purchase its replacement outright. We felt confident investing in the new Hyundai because we had some learnings from the last machine that meant we could specify the new loader in a slightly different configuration which works well for the way we use it."

The Hyundai HL740-9 operates inside the public transfer station, clearing rubbish as it’s dopped off and pushing it through a chute at the back of the 420 square metre building. The work area is long but relatively narrow. And of course, there’s no accounting for the potential projectiles that can come into contact with the machine as it collects and clears refuse.

"We made some alterations to some of the guarding, we shifted the operating lights and some of the electrical components, too," says Dan.

"We also decided to take the mudguards off the loader completely, as they tend to get damaged quite quickly inside the transfer area. We receive such variable refuse, so something like tree material or timber can really impact on components such as the mudguards.

"Porter Equipment was great to work with and really helped us make sure the loader would be fit-for-purpose. We basically sent them a list of things we wanted to change, and they set about ensuring the machine would be as requested when it arrived here. They made the whole process simple."

Other modifications to Leach & Co’s latest Hyundai HL740-9 wheel loader include solid rubber tyres (as opposed to compound-filled tyres) and a rubberised edge that has been affixed to the bottom of the bucket.

"This is to protect the floor of the pit," explains Dan.

"Wellington City Council, which owns the landfill, recently replaced the pit floor inside the transfer station, which required a lot of concrete in order to ensure it remains durable. The last thing we want to have happen is our loader then start to scrape up the floor, so the rubber reduces ground engagement and protects the site asset.

"We expect the rubberised extension to the bucket should almost double the life expectancy of the pit floor."

With many years of life still left in the Southern Landfill as it services the refuse disposal needs of Wellington, extending the life expectancy of every asset—fixed and mobile—remains top-of-mind for Dan and his team.

Hardwearing, dependable machinery such as the BOMAG BC 772 RB-2 compactor and the Hyundai HL740-9 wheel loader help ensure that Leach & Co can continue to run the busy landfill smoothly and efficiently. Even when the sun isn’t shining.

Find new and used machinery for sale in NZ

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Deals on Wheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook