On The Cover

Fully loaded 

This article first appeared in Contractor February 2017.

As thousands of logs are slung onto a ship for export at C3’s operation at Lyttelton Port, a new, purpose-built Hyundai R140LC-9 excavator is hard at work in the hull of the vessel, stacking them into place. By MARY SEARLE BELL.

LEADERS IN PRODUCT-HANDLING solutions, C3 looks after up to 30 million logs each year at 15 different ports throughout New Zealand and Australia. Lyttelton Port of Christchurch is one of the smaller ports the company operates in, nevertheless, each month, its diggers are kept busy with regular vessels getting loaded with exports logs.

C3 recently purchased a new Hyundai R140LC-9 excavator from Porter Group to work in its Lyttelton operation. The new machine works inside the ship, handling logs once they’re lifted aboard by crane. As well as ensuring the optimum number of logs can be loaded by stacking them tidily, the machine is necessary to get logs stacked in under the hatch of the vessel.

C3 southern regional manager Neil Mythen says the company opted for a Hyundai as it has been using this brand of machine for the past three years. Neil says they’re a good machine – the operators are used to them and like them – and Porters ensured the company got a good deal.

“We have three Hyundais already, and the new one is really good,” he told Contractor. “We put our most experienced operator on it and he was very happy with it – lots of power and easy to use.

“It’s easy to manoeuvre and sits nicely too. Some excavators can be top heavy but this one is nicely balanced.”

The excavator has been fitted with a Rotobec grapple which allows it to pick up two to three logs at a time.

The machine was also given a full forestry fitout – PFS Engineering in Hamilton adding extra guarding to protect the machine and its operator in the event it is accidentally hit with a log.

Another key addition to this new machine is the shackle fitted to the top of its boom. This enables it to be quickly and easily picked up by a crane’s hook and lifted into a ship. Excavators are usually slung aboard by means of wire rope around their tracks – this is time consuming to fit and has the potential to become unbalanced.

Darren Andersen, fleet maintenance manager at C3, says, by using the hook and shackle set up, the machine has a single lifting point and hangs directly under the crane’s hook, which is much safer.

“All our machines will have this going forward,” he says.

The new Hyundai has been fitted with a staircase, rather than a ladder, to give access to the shackle on the boom. This increases the safety to the operator when attaching the hook.

The machine also features a second fuel tank. This gives the machine around 500 litres of fuel in one go. Without it, the excavator would have to be lifted out of the ship mid-job for refuelling on land as it can’t be refuelled inside the hull.

Darren says with the second tank, the new Hyundai can work for two full days loading the ship – that’s 48 hours, non-stop. Efficiencies such as not having to stop to refuel save valuable time, and money.

Extra lighting on the excavator – on the rear, sides and along the boom – make it easier for the operator to see working in the gloom of the hull and at night, and ensures the crane operator clearly sees the machine in the hole while heaving in logs.

C3 operator Brent Ericksen got behind the controls of the new excavator for a few hours at C3’s operation in Mount Maunganui before it was put on a vessel and shipped down to Lyttelton. He says he found it a good machine, “nice and comfortable, and easy to operate”.

“I’d rate it up there with the best of them,” he says. “I later spoke to [operator] Matt down at Lyttelton and he tells me he couldn’t fault it.”

Along with the machine’s ease of use and manoeuvrability, inside the cab it’s quiet, making it pleasant for the operator and easy for communications.

Operator comfort is paramount for this machine as the operators work 12-hour shifts inside a vessel. And, as Neil says, “you need a good machine – it’s their office”.

“Our operators finish their shift feeling much more relaxed – it doesn’t feel like they’ve just spent 12 hours in an excavator.”

It’s early days for the Hyundai R140LC-9, but the team at C3 say they are very pleased with their newest machine.

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