Cover story: Atlas Concrete

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

Jeremy Dawkins of Atlas Concrete is putting his new Hyundai HL740-9 to work at the company’s Silverdale yard

Loader operator Jeremy Dawkins was still getting comfy in his new work weapon when we paid a visit to Atlas Concrete’s Silverdale yard in early March. Already hard at work, the company’s new Hyundai HL740-9 wheel loader had only been onsite for a week, although, Jeremy is more than familiar with the controls and capabilities of the machine.

"I’ve been driving Hyundai wheel loaders for years now, and I’d put them right up there alongside any of the competition," he affirms. "This machine replaces another Hyundai we were running here, but this new one is the next size down from what I had before."

While smaller than the outgoing Hyundai HL757, Jeremy says there are plenty of operational bonuses that come with the slightly more compact Hyundai HL740-9, including the "fresh legs" a just-out-of-the-box new machine gives the site.

The new wheel loader replaces an older Hyundai machine

"The old machine had 16,000 hours on it, so it had done its dash here. This new one’s great: it has a heap of torque and plenty of power. It’s a lot smoother around the yard, and it’s pretty effortless going into the pile. Just due to its age, you’d kind of feel the old machine as it went into the pile — there’d be a bit of resistance that you could feel in the cab through the controls, but this one is smooth as silk."

Of the cab, Jeremy says it’s nice to have a new machine, yet one that feels familiar to operate and is supremely comfortable.

"There’s no real difference between the two machines as far the cab goes. All the controls are where you’d expect them. It’s just this one is a lot cleaner," he laughs.

Value for money

The 12T machine is fit for a wide range of applications

The combination of good products priced fairly is why Hyundai construction equipment is a mainstay across the multiple sites Atlas Concrete runs around the Auckland and Northland regions. It’s also why the familiar Atlas red livery has been featured in plenty of editions of Deals On Wheels. Company director Graham Collie and his son, concrete division manager Andrew Collie, have been buying Hyundai hardware from Porter Equipment for more than 20 years.

"The scale of the Porter Equipment operation just makes them such a great resource to have behind you," says Andrew. "They react quickly if you need anything, they have a reliable parts supply, and their honest pricing and ability to deliver machines quickly are all key factors why we enjoy the relationship. Paul Gorrie, Northern region sales manager, and the other people we deal with there are all fantastic."

Across a dozen sites specialising in quarrying, concrete production, recycling, sand mining, and precast, Atlas Concrete runs a comprehensive line-up of Hyundai wheel loaders, including an HL760-9, HL757-9, HL770-7A, and HL770-7. Multiple Hyundai crawler excavators also feature in the well-known company’s wider machine fleet, undertaking a variety of disciplines across the working week.

"The value for money we get out of our Hyundai equipment is really good," Andrew continues. "It’s not only that we believe the gear is priced fairly when new, but as a business, we get good life out of our machines."

He says that Atlas Concrete will usually look to trade a machine at between 15,000 and 20,000 hours, and they extract as much value as possible out of each one.

"We push the machines around various parts of the business, depending upon what the production requirements we have are. We have frontline and backline machines and, generally, an older machine will go to a part of the business that doesn’t require as many hours on the clock.

"For example, we always want newer machinery in the quarry because of the demands of that sort of operation. Whereas the recycling operation requires fewer hours for the machine to work. It’s a bit of a cruisier life for an older machine," says Andrew.

The Porter connection

The HL740-9 has a bucket capacity of 2.3m3

While Atlas Concrete maintains a large fleet workshop at Riverhead, northwest of Auckland, the company relies on Porter Equipment’s after-sales servicing and support while each new machine is under warranty.

"That’s another part of the value-for-money we feel we get from Porters: they offer a very good warranty that gives us peace of mind. They’ll work with our various sites to ensure the 100- and 500-hour services can be scheduled when the machine isn’t required, and that works smoothly.

"Our team will generally handle any other mechanical issue as they arise, but Hyundai equipment is very reliable. And because Porter’s network is so large, obtaining replacement parts isn’t a problem."

Behind the wheel

Atlas Concrete runs a comprehensive line-up of Hyundai wheel loaders

Before the need for any remedial mechanical work is required, Atlas Concrete’s Hyundai HL740-9 features plenty of technology designed to protect itself and maintain that well-regarded reliability.

The wheel loader features a self-diagnostic and monitoring system in the cab, giving Jeremy an active display of engine, hydraulic system, transmission, and electrical component info on the go. An integrated load weight system — viewable through the monitor as well — helps prevent overload.

Under the rugged bodywork, the Hyundai boasts a long-life cooling system designed for additional durability, which has proven resistant to thermal shock and day-to-day vibration. The Korean manufacturer’s Series 9 wheel loaders also feature a redesigned steering cylinder lug and bucket link, which is now made from cast steel for additional strength, while a long-life hydraulic filter and oil is used in an effort to reduce operating costs. It all adds up to a machine that can be relied upon day in, day out and for many hours ahead.

"I think Porters deliver good machines and good people to back them up," concludes Andrew. "That’s the complete package in our minds."

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