Fulton Hogan’s Canterbury operation is all set for ever-larger projects with Wirtgen’s W210 joining its fleet. Ease-of-use, world class technology and huge reserves of power make it a machine suitably matched to any large scale task.
There’s very little about the Christchurch rebuild that is small in scale. For that matter, there’s very little about many of the key civil infrastructure projects taking place further afield in New Zealand that are small in scale either.
So when Fulton Hogan needs to shift damaged pavement in need of rehabilitation, the Wirtgen line of large milling machines has already proven their worth.
Not only is the W210 the largest milling machine Fulton Hogan owns, it’s the largest in the country. And as if to illustrate just how much work the milling team at Fulton Hogan has on around New Zealand at present, this is the fourth W210 to join their national fleet.
“Our Auckland operation has three W210s already, and for the last two or three years we’ve been transporting one down here whenever it has been required,” says Steve Scott, milling and grooving manager for Fulton Hogan Canterbury.
“Thing is, since the earthquakes every time we’ve brought one of those machines down to Christchurch on secondment, it has ended up staying longer and longer. What with the rebuild work now on in the province, along with the continuation of our long association with Christchurch International Airport, we’ve made the decision to put an extra W210 on the fleet to be based here permanently.”
Steve says the company’s newest W210 will be used across the whole of the South Island. In fact, after its first duties working on a lane extension project between the rebuilt Ferrymead Bridge and the recently-completed Christchurch Causeway, it could be off to any of the many jobs already priced to be completed with this machine anywhere between Nelson and Invercargill.
“Clearly a lot of its work will be in Christchurch though. We have good relationships with most of the local contractors here and currently undertake milling work for both City Care and HEB, as well as our current city contract with NZTA.
“Add to this the potential of ripping out fractured road networks in red zone districts where it makes much more sense to use a milling machine than an excavator and the W210 will be extremely busy.”
Fulton Hogan’s Christchurch yard already boasts another two Wirtgen milling machines – a 1200mm wide W1200 and a 1000mm wide W100 rear load machine.
While Steve says that these machines have proven to be reliable over the past few years, the changing nature of work in the city means that, rather than replace a machine, they needed to have bigger capabilities. By running the three machines out of the same yard, Steve says Fulton Hogan now has a machine to fit any size job whether it be a small key-in or patching job that would suit the W100, a medium-sized one for the W1200 or a large task for the new W210.
“We can now use the best machine for the best fit for any client’s requirements,” he says.
So the W1200 has been a good tool of trade for Fulton Hogan, but the big difference in power between the older machine and the new W210 – 227kW versus 500kW – means the Christchurch team can use the new profiler on projects where time is of the essence, such as rehabilitation work on airport runways and taxiways, or on arterial roads where the available work window is framed by strict start and finish times.
“On deep lift rehab projects along main roads like Brougham Street we’re in at 7.30pm at night and have to be back out – with everything filled in – by 5.00am as morning traffic starts to build. “The work at Christchurch Airport needs to happen within even tighter time frames; sometimes we only get a four or five hour window. Everything has to be timed to perfection and you can’t afford to have any hold ups or breakdowns.
That extra grunt the W210 possesses comes from the intelligent use of power when it is required most; it’s all down to two Cummins diesel engines.
In a set-up pioneered by Wirtgen, the first engine is only in operation when a desired result can be achieved with lower power levels. The second engine automatically kicks in when full milling power is needed (it can also be switched on manually, depending on the application).
This system benefits both the machine and operations crew, with lower noise levels, fewer emissions, less vibration on the operator platform, more economic use of fuel and less wear and tear on the machine itself.
“The flexibility of the twin engine system in particular suits us,” Steve continues.
“We can be milling at 250mm to 300mm deep and utilising the machine’s full power reserve. Or we can operate with just one engine if we’re skimming a surface or working in a particular environment where noise could be an issue, such as during residential night work.
“But when we’re milling at around a depth of 300mm, we’re loading trucks in 25 seconds flat. You can’t get much more efficient than that; it’s the trucks that are trying to keep up with the mill, not the other way ‘round.”
Steve points to the machine’s overall ease-of-use, its efficient dual engine set-up and clever LED signal system enabling clear, safe communication between operator and truck driver as examples of why the Wirtgen works for him and his team.
Fulton Hogan runs the Christchurch-based machine with a full 2.2m wide milling drum assembly. Smaller drum widths and fine milling drums can be adapted to this machine although the need hasn’t arisen for these as yet; they can be supplied in the future if the need arises.
Steve says the heavy duty drum can be replaced by a fine milling drum pretty simply when required as well, thanks to the machine’s Flexible Cutter System which supports the drum on a mounting carriage, allowing for removal and replacement by a technician in no more than a couple of hours.
The W210 features three selectable milling speeds, ensuring either large-scale surface pavement removal or finer milling can be performed quickly and precisely. The entire machine tracks across any surface with level precision thanks to its PTS (Parallel To Surface) system, which automatically aligns the mill to the road surface.
The PTS system utilises the machine’s four-fold full-floating axle in conjunction with the front and rear lifting columns to continually balance out the chassis, essentially governing the alignment of the machine transverse to the direction of travel.
At the heart of the machine is Wirtgen’s intelligent WIDRIVE software. This total machine management system controls the interaction between the W210’s key components in order to automate certain functions, leaving the operator to concentrate on the task at hand without needing to make continual manual adjustments.
WIDRIVE manages aspects of power delivery, travel, the milling drum, the conveyor drives to ensure consistent belt speed, the water spray system (the W210 boasts 3350-litre onboard tank capacity) and operating height adjustments.
Individual specifications aside, Steve reveals that Fulton Hogan has been putting its faith in Wirtgen’s milling technology for some time, suggesting that as far as they’re concerned, the company’s reputation for precision engineering and mechanical reliability is peerless.
“We’re running around 18 different Wirtgen machines across the group, so that gives you some idea of the investment we’ve made in the hardware. Wirtgen’s German engineering is incredible, as are many of the technical solutions these machines offer.”
Steve says that Wirtgen New Zealand’s back-up support offering is very effective and getting better all the time.
“With Gary Payne from Wirtgen New Zealand now based in Christchurch and looking after the South Island, that gives us confidence that any technical issue can be resolved quickly.
“New Zealand is a long way from Germany, but increasingly – with what’s going on here in terms of major infrastructure projects – we’re seeing a lot of interest from the likes of Wirtgen in our market and how we work to achieve what we’re achieving.
“Wirtgen has a proven reputation with our company and, to be honest when it comes to profilers we simply don’t look at any other brand of machine. We’ve run Wirtgen gear for many years; they’re the market leader so why would we go with anything else?”