Porter Press Extra: Wanaka Civil

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

Compacting new roadway traversing steep grades is no issue for specialist pavement construction company Wanaka Civil. This sort of demanding application is no problem for the company’s new sure-footed and reliable BOMAG BW213 DH-5 single drum roller either.

Concentrating on the material under the drum is possibly a little harder when you have views like this on the work site

As far as office views go, it doesn’t get much better than this. A glorious autumn day in Queenstown is a glorious day indeed, and Deals on Wheels’ rendezvous with Wanaka Civil’s Fletcher Cranfield is handsomely backdropped by the breathtaking Remarkables and a still and steel-blue Lake Wakatipu.

Wanaka Civil managing director, Fletcher Cranfield

Most touristy types, eager to get from Queenstown Airport into the bustling township itself, will completely miss the presence of executive homes accessed via suburban streets that spiral up the hill overlooking the main stretch of State Highway 6A, along the Lake Wakatipu foreshore.

As this Queenstown subdivision spreads further up the hill, the grade the new roads are constructed at doesn’t change - it’s steep, all the way up

But there is plenty of activity at the upper reaches of this enclave. As if to really hammer the point home, this area is known as The Views. Of course it is. Despite being a young company, having been established in February 2021, the six-person Wanaka Civil team boasts many decades worth of industry experience between them.

Fletcher says that while the company takes on multiple projects requiring a variety of disciplines, its reputation as experts in the construction of granular pavement is what drives the business ahead.

"Pavement construction, rehabilitation and realignment work is what Wanaka Civil is known for. We’ve been engaged on a variety of roading projects over the last 15 months or so. We’ve been very lucky to go from standstill to sprint, so that meant we had to tool up in a hurry too," he says.

Fletcher jokes that on day one of Wanaka Civil’s existence as a business, he had a Subaru Outback station wagon at his disposal and not much else. "We quickly leased a grader, borrowed a water cart, and went from there!" he laughs. But things have tracked well since, with a second crew established in August of last year – along with a second grader.

Wanaka Civil’s latest machine fleet investment is a new BOMAG BW213 DH-5 single drum roller

Now, Wanaka Civil owns its expanding machine fleet outright. The company’s latest investment has only been on the books a week, but as far as Fletcher and Wanaka Civil machine operator Ross Clearwater are concerned, the BOMAG BW213 DH-5 rolling smooth the new roads up on the hill, has arrived on-site with a proven track record behind it.

"I’ve been driving BOMAGs for many years and they are fantastic machines," affirms Ross. "They are pretty much the best of the best. You can pay less for a roller for sure. But in my opinion, you get less performance as a result.

The way they engineer the cabs on these is great. There is so much more visibility for the driver and because the cab isn’t positioned up as high as on some other machines, you can see more of the road surface and the kerb edge."

Ross also says the operator cab is the comfiest he has ever worked in, with plenty of room, easy ingress and egress, and good, comfortable seating for longer stretches at the controls. He also says the operating station is well insulated from engine noise outside.

Fletcher agrees, adding that BOMAG’s reputation for consistency and reliability were key factors in making this latest purchase for the growing business. "Historically, I have worked with previous companies who have used BOMAG rollers, and there has never been an issue with them. They are built solidly, but they also incorporate a lot of technology, which makes them easy and efficient to use."

That’s not to say Wanaka Civil didn’t do its due diligence before purchasing. Fletcher says he and his colleagues looked at four single drum rollers from four manufacturers, trialling each in the field. The BOMAG BW213 DH-5, distributed throughout New Zealand by Porter Equipment, came out on top.

As The Views subdivision spreads further up the hill, the grade the new roads are constructed at doesn’t change. It’s steep, all the way up. And not all machines do ‘steep’ equally.

BOMAG prides itself on engineering single drum rollers which offer excellent performance on steep grades

BOMAG prides itself on engineering single drum rollers in the 3-26 tonne weight class, which offer excellent performance on steep grades. The BOMAG BW213 DH-5 provides sure-footed traction in both forwards and backwards travel modes, ensuring consistent ground contact for excellent traction even on uneven steep surfaces.

BOMAG says its ‘D-version’ single drum rollers provide for gradeability of up to 53%. The machine’s rear axles are equipped with a NoSpin differential with automatic locking up to 100%, meaning continued forward drive is assured, even if one wheel leaves the ground.

The dual pump system in the H-version translates engine output into traction, so even gradients of 60% are workable in a safe and consistent manner. The ECONOMIZER comes standard on BOMAG rollers and automatically determines the compaction progress.

A light strip indicates the end of compaction to the driver, with a warning light indicating when there is a risk of overcompaction. "Compaction is so important on steep grades," continues Fletcher.

"The hydraulic pump system BOMAG uses is crucial for getting up the hills here. It effectively means the steepness of the road surface is no problem at all, but also there is no compromise on the compaction performance the machine gives Ross either."

BOMAG also ensures its single drum rollers are more efficient to run, even when working off the flat. The manufacturer’s ECOMODE speed control system can save up to 30% on fuel burn, but also ensures the engine produces less noise.

The machines also feature an optional ECOSTOP system, where the engine is shut down automatically after a defined period in idle speed, further reducing fuel consumption and wear on components.

"Although this is a brand-new machine, we know from experience that BOMAG will give us the best compaction performance money can buy," concludes Fletcher. "We’re a young company, but we’re nimble and productive and have a lot of forward order work ahead of us over the next 12 months. It’s reassuring to know that the investment we have made in solid equipment like this will stand us in good stead for the future."

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