Porter Press Extra: Atlas Concrete

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

A new Hyundai R480LC-9 crawler excavator is the latest addition to a widespread Hyundai fleet for Atlas Concrete

The new Sandvik QJ341 mobile jaw crusher at work

Atlas Concrete has been investing in Hyundai equipment for more than 25 years now. The company’s Brynderwyn quarry manager, Tony Turnbull, remembers the day in 1995 when Atlas Concrete founder, Melville ‘Bunny’ Collie, watched his first-ever Hyundai machine being unloaded at the port in Auckland.

"He had budget for a couple of new loaders and an excavator. He bought those and then, with the money left over, decided to purchase a 16-tonne Hyundai HL25 wheel loader, which was an unknown brand at the time," explains Tony.

"Bunny took one look at the loader, turned to his offsider, and said ‘Get me six more of those please’." Hyundai excavators and wheel loaders have been a constant fixture in Atlas Concrete’s yards, quarries, and sand operations ever since.

When I last caught up with director Graeme Collie in 2015, he was effusive about the value-for-money the brand’s machinery offers the company. Six years on, nothing has changed. Atlas Concrete, Atlas Quarries, Mt Rex, and now Atlas Recycling still run multiple machines supplied by Hyundai distributor Porter Equipment.

Across sites in Albany, Wairau Road, Helensville (Mt Rex), Brynderwyn, and beyond, there are plenty of different Hyundai machines doing the hard yards for this multifaceted company, including various crawler excavators and wheel loaders.

At Atlas Quarries’ Hukatere Quarry, nestled on the northern shores of the Kaipara Harbour around 20km west of Maungaturoto, the Hyundai fleet has recently grown by one, with the arrival of a mighty 48-tonne Hyundai R480LC-9 crawler excavator.

The mighty 48-tonne Hyundai R480LC-9 crawler excavator

It joins a Hyundai HL760 wheel loader and a Hyundai R210LC-9 excavator already on-site. Also new to the Hukatere operation is the Sandvik QJ341 mobile jaw crusher the big excavator feeds.


The Hyundai HL760 wheel loader on-site

"That’s actually the first Sandvik we have purchased," says Tony. "We looked at competitor models, but it seemed to us that Sandvik is a trustworthy manufacturer. Add to that the support we get from Porter Equipment, and it was a bit of a no-brainer."

Tony says that the Sandvik QJ341 is a second-hand unit and not the actual machine the company intended to buy. "Once we had decided we’d go for a Sandvik mobile jaw, Porters were able to get us a temporary loaner unit to trial. Well, that loaner unit is the one you see on-site today!" he laughs.

"The machine was so good we didn’t end up buying a brand-new one; it was doing what it does really well for us, so we just bought it. That’s the power of Porter Equipment and Porter Hire—they will always be able to offer you a solution, and that’s really reassuring."

The nature of Atlas Quarries’ Hukatere Quarry is that it’s generally a one-man operation unless the company is marketing its rip rap, spalls, and maintenance metal products, when demand means more trucks inevitably arrive at the gate. The satellite quarry specialises in basalt, which is popular for sea walls and retaining walls.

"It’s a natural, blocky stone out at Hukatere: landscapers love the stuff," Tony enthuses.
Hukatere was also famous in years gone by for being the site of Atlas Quarries’ barge operation, which used to run from the wharf at the quarry’s shoreline across the Kaipara Harbour to the Mt Rex sand yard at the Kaipara River mouth on the outskirts of Helensville to the south.

Now discontinued, the old Hukatere wharf is silent and the mobile nature of the Sandvik QJ341 means the entire quarrying operation happens at the other end of the site these days.

"We knew mobile was the way to go," says Tony. "Now that we can crush and stockpile on-site and move the jaw in tandem with the screen to the work face, it has made the operation at Hukatere much more efficient."

Left to right: Porter Equipment territory manager (Northland) Selwyn Tilly, joins Atlas Quarries’ quarry manager Tony Turnbull and Mobile Crushing & Screening supervisor Nathan Taylor at the Hukatere Quarry

It might be the smallest tracked jaw crusher in the line-up, but the self-propelled Sandvik QJ341 offers Tony’s team high-performance crushing and consistent throughput. The Sandvik QJ341 features hydraulic adjustment and a reversible jaw, with all major controls—including the colour operator screen—able to be utilised at ground level for extra safety.

The main conveyor can be hydraulically raised or lowered, as well as extended for greater discharge height, while Sandvik’s improved load control system ensures continuous, uninterrupted crushing.

A level sensor is fitted to the jaw to control the material feed rate into the crusher, helping maximise production, while the machine’s hydraulically driven cooling fan provides for increased efficiency. An auto-reverse facility is also designed to periodically back flush any dust build-up in the radiator.

Mobile Crushing & Screening supervisor Nathan Taylor is at the controls of the Hyundai R480LC-9 today. Sporting a 2.15 cubic metre capacity quarry bucket with hard-plate protection for improved wear and tear, the big excavator feeds massive chunks of stone into the Sandvik’s hopper, which has a 4.95 cubic metre heaped capacity.

The Hyundai R480LC-9 excavator utilises a quarry bucket with hard-plate protection for improved wear and tear

The jaw crusher makes short work of the material, spitting out a uniform pile of processed rock. Back in 2015, Graeme Collie mentioned that Porter Equipment’s ability to provide an array of machines that are fit-for-purpose from the moment they arrive on site is something the distributor excels at. It’s a sentiment Nathan agrees with. 

The jaw crusher makes short work of the material, spitting out a uniform pile of processed rock

"This digger is a good machine—exactly the sort of digger you want for a quarry. Porters sorted out the quarry bucket for us too. It only has 150 hours on it, but we know we’ll get many years of good service out of this machine," he says.

"Between the new equipment, the hire fleet and the transport division, Porters are really resourceful. They just make it so easy to deal with them." Tony says that Atlas Concrete assess what it needs before buying, and the company certainly doesn’t buy needlessly.

"We don’t buy machines every day, but when we do, we buy smartly," he concludes. "Porter Equipment makes that investment process simple. They offer honest pricing and a bulletproof aftersales service that can’t be beat. And, of course, the machinery they sell is reliable and does what we need it to do as well." It’s no wonder Bunny Collie immediately wanted another six all those years ago.

Find new and used heavy 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