Cover story: Hyundai HL970 XT wheel loader

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

ADM's newest HL970 XT wheel loader comes with a distinctive bucket and a specific equipment list designed to help the machine operate safely and efficiently

ADM New Zealand operates from four Port locations around the country importing and distributing the world’s finest stock feeds. ADMNZ is a small part of the global company that specialises in plant-based nutrition. Here it imports a range of products, including Corn Golden Dried Distillers Grain (GDDG) and Corn Gluten Feed Pallet (CGFP) from the US. The company also imports Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) from Malaysia and Indonesia. All three products are bio-products of plant processing operations internationally. These products are blended with a range of other animal feeds to meet the needs of New Zealand farming operations wanting to increase farm productivity.

The bright LED lights fitted to ADM’s Hyundai HL970 XT wheel loader mean its operator is never in the dark

ADM’s stockfeed store in Bell Block, at the northern end of New Plymouth, is a huge facility where silo and high-side truck and trailers (up to 40 per day during peak season) load up with mixes of these materials and more.

Swift, reliable through-put is the order of the day. ADT has two Hyundai wheel loaders on duty at Bell Block; the newest is this 23.8-tonne Hyundai HL970 XT, which is the second largest wheel loader the brand offers in its 11-model range.

But when products such as palm kernel expeller make for dusty, abrasive working conditions for machinery, extra care and attention needs to be taken across every single hour of operation.

"Naturally, when you’re handling stockfeed, you’re going to get dust, and dust can be a big problem for machinery," says Steve Holmes, ADM Bell Block store manager.

"It can be invasive. We clean our machinery every day, sometimes twice a day, depending on how many loads are going through the screen or out the gate. But we also fit extra systems to our wheel loaders for the benefit of the machine and the driver."

Inside the stockfeed store, fresh air is a big deal for both man and machine. ADM’s Hyundai HL970 XT features modifications to the factory air conditioning system, as well as a Powercore Air Cleaner, and a Filtered Alternator. Also fitted is a Brofil Air Filtration and Cabin Over-Pressurisation System, which keeps the cabin free of dust, while an additional audible alarm has been fitted to the wheel loader’s air filter indicator. Because palm kernel is a combustible product and has been known to smoulder, the Hyundai HL970 XT has also had a Hydraulink Fire Suppression System fitted. With an eye on operational ease, ADM’s wheel loader is fitted with Loadsense onboard scales and a printer, and the machine’s front wheels feature rim covers to ensure no product is ‘lost’ inside the deep well of the wheel hubs when the driver pushes the piles of material skyward towards the stockfeed store’s roof high above.

The Hyundai wheel loader’s high tipper bucket allows the driver to push forward hydraulically over and above the machine’s maximum lift height

All this extra specification was supplied and fitted by Porter Equipment before the wheel loader arrived on-site, leaving ADM’s Taranaki team comfortable in the knowledge that as soon as it arrived, it was ready to work. Tapping into the extensive Porter Hire portfolio of construction gear around the country, Porter Equipment even provided ADM with a rental machine while the company awaited its new Hyundai HL970 XT.

While there are plenty of environmental factors at the stockfeed store that mean ADM’s Hyundai HL970 XT needs to be kitted out in a specific way, company operations manager Bill Goodridge says that the main criteria for purchasing the new machine came down to more basic comfort and functionality requirements.

"Regardless of where any of our machines are working, they need to offer the driver a good level of comfort, good visibility, efficient load capacity, and they also need to represent solid value for money," he says.

"We have loaders from other brands throughout the ADM network, but with an older Hyundai already having proved its value at the Bell Block store, we had confidence in the brand. We were keen to see another new machine in the fleet and see how it performs."

The wheel loader also needs to push the material up into vast piles, as well as load out

Bill says another attribute he looked to in securing the Hyundai HL970 XT was the degree of flexibility it brought to the busy operation.

"The operational flexibility that machine affords us is very important because the loader doesn’t just do one job. We need to be able to remove the bucket and attach the pusher quickly. In order to work efficiently, we don’t want that task to take long, and with the Hyundai coupling and decoupling system it’s straightforward."

Bill also says that the back-up service Porter Equipment provides has been excellent.

"At that level and with the national footprint they have, I wouldn’t expect anything less," he says.

Wheel loader driver Pete Stanford says the new machine — which only arrived days before we got to see it in action — is a big step up from the previous generation Hyundai wheel loader.

"I’m still getting used to all the new functions and everything, but you can see that they’ve changed a lot," he confirms.

"All the technology in it is impressive, but at the end of the day, as long as it has the grunt to do the job, then that’s what I need out of it. But yeah, it has some good features, like the camera system. And there is good visibility from the driver’s seat too."

The most obvious difference with ADM’s latest fleet addition isn’t something engineered back at the factory, however.

The high tipper bucket with ramps is necessary in order to improve load capacity from every machine cycle and the efficient loading of the silo and high-side trucks that come in through the gate to receive any of the seven products ADM distributes to Taranaki’s farming community. Pete explains: "The high tipper bucket means I can push forward over the trailer unit when loading, but then I can also hydraulically tip the bucket over further."

Seven different products are distributed to the Taranaki farming industry from the Bell Block stockfeed store

With the bucket pivoting off a frame at the end of the wheel loader’s lift arms, the system effectively increases the length of the arms along with clearance beyond the Hyundai HL970 XT’s maximum lift height, without any compromise to machine stability or fuel burn.

Other features that help with the smooth flow of operations between stock bins, the processing screen, and outbound trucks is Hyundai’s Ride Control system, which reduces operator fatigue and material spillage through an accumulator, helping minimise shock.

As to be expected inside the cavernous — and windowless — stockfeed store, light that can illuminate the path ahead, as well as workers and other obstacles nearby, is crucial. Hyundai’s 900 series wheel loader range comes with bright LED lights that are not only powerful but also long-lasting and mitigate the need to change out old-style bulbs so often. This machine features LEDs front, sides, and at the rear.

With robust engineering under its skin, a comfortable cab for the driver, and a strong feature set of additional fit-for-purpose safety equipment suited to its unique working environment, ADM’s Hyundai HL970 XT is set to provide many hours of service over the years ahead. Taranaki’s farming community will be happy about that.

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