Cover story: Hyundai excavators for Downer

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Supplied

Work along a major Auckland infrastructure project was bolstered recently by the purchase of multiple new Hyundai excavators by main contractor, Downer, with each machine having been fitted out with Trimble 3D Machine Control systems

The ongoing Wiri to Quay Park upgrade work along Auckland’s busy main rail network runs the length of the Auckland isthmus.

The large-scale project is designed to add a third set of rail tracks along the city’s main north-south rail corridor.

Currently, Auckland’s rail network only has two tracks, effectively meaning the busy rail corridor (which sees 380 freight services and 1500 passenger services travel along it every week) runs like a two-lane road: one track ‘up’ and one track ‘down’.

Compact Hyundai R80CR-9 excavators before being deployed to the job site

The third track—which will act as a passing lane, thanks to a series of new track connections along the line allowing trains to switch from one track to the other—is designed to ease congestion, provide faster freight and passenger services, and reduce delays.

It also anticipates growth in all services following the opening of the City Rail Link and improves links to key freight hubs at Westfield, Southdown, and the Ports of Auckland inland port at Wiri.

To ensure project milestones on the Wiri to Quay Park works corridor continue to be met in the dependable manner that main contractor, Downer, is well regarded for across Australasia, the transport, utilities, and facilities infrastructure stalwart recently invested in nine new Hyundai excavators, supplied by New Zealand distributor, Porter Equipment.

The Hyundais ordered for the Wiri to Quay Park project ranged from six to 23T in operating weight

The multi-machine acquisition consisted of a variety of Hyundai excavator models weighing in at between six- and 23-tonne. The new equipment assigned to Downer included several compact Hyundai R80CR-9 excavators fitted with Attach2 tilt buckets, right up to a new Hyundai HX235LCR—part of the extensive HX range of comprehensively updated excavators from the Korean manufacturer.

"We continue to be very proud to partner with Downer and see this acquisition as part of an ongoing collaboration," says Porter Group national key account manager, Jason Hilton.

"We believe the deployment of these machines onto a vital infrastructure project being managed by a significant entity such as Downer is proof positive that Hyundai construction machinery is fit for purpose for a wide variety of applications and a trusted name for companies of all sizes."

While far from the first interaction between the two entities, Downer fleet category manager, John Russell, explains it signifies the start of a stronger supply arrangement with Porter Equipment.

Downer field operators get up close and personal with one of their new machines

"We have utilised the services of Porter Hire for some time now, helping ensure we have appropriate capacity in our machine fleet, depending upon where our various project crews are deployed to and what machine resources are readily available to them," he says.

"The purchase of these nine excavators extends our commitment to Porter Equipment, and we’re looking forward to working in partnership with them when other plant requirements call for similar support. It has proven to be a good working relationship thus far."

The Trimble 3D Machine Control ‘head’ unit inside one of the excavator cabs

Each of the new Hyundai excavators Downer took delivery of was also fitted out with Trimble 3D Machine Control and Avoidance systems.

Helping to increase job site productivity, accuracy, and safety, 3D Machine Control technology gives excavator operators better situational awareness of their surroundings and the job at hand. Cut/fill information, slope data, and other bench and reference points are used to let the operator get on with the job quickly and accurately, without needing to interpret complex plans or stakes.

Porter Equipment established a field training space to help get Downer staff comfortable with the Trimble 3D Machine Control system

Of course, with any new technology, there could also be a degree of uncertainty for the operator. In order to mitigate this for the Downer crew members who are using the new Hyundai excavators, Porter Equipment organised a special field day training session at a rural plot of land ahead of the machinery’s final delivery to site.

"To us, it’s important that we do our best to uphold the solid reputation we have for customer service that goes above and beyond," continues Jason.

"We simply aren’t about handing people their new machine and wishing them all the best with it. Porter Equipment prides itself on offering great support regardless of where the customer and their machine are located and for the long run as well.

"We worked with Downer and Trimble in order to set up a training day whereby the Downer team working with the new excavators that have Trimble 3D Machine Control onboard could experience the way the system works in a neutral environment. This was a productive exercise and certainly one we will look to repeat for clients in the future."

"The training session was a great additional aspect to this particular acquisition," adds John.

"Getting our staff out into a wide-open space and letting them get to grips with the operational capabilities of 3D Machine Control in a practical training environment was very beneficial. The machines and the technology they have onboard represent a significant investment. With that investment and the project timeline in mind, if we can have operators who hit the ground running in reliable new equipment fitted out with the latest machine control systems, then we have done everything we can to add value to the project and work towards a successful, on-time outcome."

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