Quarry Cat, The Legacy Continues
Alan Rae has been operating heavy machinery up and down the South Island since the late 1970’s, and is now only months away from achieving 25 years of service for Fulton Hogan Canterbury at their Pound Road and Miners Road alluvial stone quarries on the outskirts of Christchurch.
Since coming on-board in 1987, Alan has been at the helm of five Caterpillar mid-size Wheel Loaders at Fulton Hogan including the 966B, 980C, 980G, 980G Series II, and currently a 980H delivered by Goughs in February 2011.
The Cat 980H is utilised by Fulton Hogan as its front line machine at the quarry to load and stockpile a mixture of high quality aggregates including concrete aggregate, chip and sand. While Alan has seen great improvement in the technology and features in the Cat wheel loaders through each series, the tried and proven base design of the 980GII and its predecessors are still in use today for the new 980H.
The ‘legendary Cat platform’ which these Cat loaders are built on includes a near ‘bullet-proof’ planetary powershift transmission, outstanding operator cab, separated cooling system, integrated braking system, free wheel stator torque converter, and the industry’s strongest frame. All this contributes to a machine that operators love and provides proven reliability and resale value.
The Cat 980H offers further improvements. These include a load sensing hydraulic implement system that automatically adjusts to operating conditions to provide only the hydraulic flow required by the application for improved fuel efficiency. This ensures greater system efficiencies are achieved with less horsepower and less fuel.
Add in more lift force and faster cycle times working together with the new ACERT technology of the C15 engine, and the 980H is also more productive and fuel efficient over the previous model. The cab and comfort it provides the operator are one of the significant advantage points the Cat has over competitive machines. Unmatched operator visibility at front and rear and reduced cab sound levels provide for quiet operation and less fatigue through the long work day.
Daily maintenance and serviceability of the loader come more easily on the 980H. Ground level access points for routine maintenance and improved access to the engine compartment underneath a single hydraulically-driven panel have all saved Alan much time in keeping the machine operating at its full capability.
With Alan’s experience and long history working with Caterpillar machinery, he is well respected in the industry particularly by staff at Goughs. He was invited by Goughs along with other customers to attend the launch of the first G-Series wheel loaders in Melbourne in the 1990’s, and again for the G-Series II in 2005. “I was honoured and very thankful to be involved,” he said.
“And, it was from these opportunities to get the feel for the new machines first hand that [Fulton Hogan] opted to remain with the Cat 980 for the replacement program.”
Alan is a shining example to the up and coming operators in the industry for his attention to detail, his high regard for the machines he is operating and respect for the company’s image.
He can recall several occasions when his Cat 980’s have been mistaken for much newer than they actually are.“I like to keep the loader looking immaculate, it reflects well on Fulton Hogan, and once Terry Lock came for a site visit at Pound Road and thought the machine was only two years old when it was already passed five.
”“When the 980G reached 18,000 hours, we were having the machine serviced at Goughs and the mechanics found the brake pads to be in very good condition, like the loader had only done a fraction of those hours.“My boss Allan McDowell took me into the shop to see for myself. He was pretty chuffed with it.”
Quarry Manager at Miners Road, Andrew Royfee, has worked with Alan since he began at Fulton Hogan and he holds his colleague in the greatest esteem.“For one thing [Alan] is machine-mad, and he has so much enthusiasm for his work. His services at Fulton Hogan are invaluable.”
Never shy of helping others, Alan lends his skills to up and coming operators in the industry. As a qualified operator-trainer, he works with the trainees to give them the foundations to make a good start in the job.
“I like to monitor the young guys’ progress and I’m happy to give them advice when they need it. It could be operating the loaders, working the scales, whatever the task, they need to get the best start they can to building their skills.”