Scratching the surface

The Cat PM620’s capabilities are going past face value after one Australian firm has found a suitable application deep underground as part of Sydney’s WestConnex project.As a heavy earth moving firm specialising in underground tunnel and shaft works, SU Tunnel and Civil Services requires a range of specifically designed plant and tunnelling equipment to undertake these complex projects beneath the Earth’s surface.

Working on projects such as the Lane Cove Tunnel in Sydney, the Burnley Tunnel in Melbourne, and more recently tunnelling works on the M4 East section of Sydney’s $16.8 billion WestConnex project, high-end, customised equipment has always been a must for the company.

Mark Moore, SU Tunnel and Civil Services General Manager, says the company needed to purchase a compact road profiler that could be modified to operate safely in a tunnel environment and could run almost 24 hours a day.

“We’ve always bought Komatsu or Hitachi Construction machinery, but the recent developments in Cat products and the conversations we had with Hastings Deering guided us towards the PM620,” says Mr. Moore.

Launched late last year, news of the new PM620 has spread quickly, with Cat equipment dealer Hastings Deering showcasing the new model through a range of demonstrations, one of which Mr. Moore attended.

“We also held our own trial in New South Wales and tested the machine in a quarry under different working conditions, and it was just so good,” he says.

SU Tunnel and Civil Services investigated different profiling machines available on the Australian market and Mr. Moore says the PM620 stood out, primarily because of its dust suppression system.

“We shopped around extensively for a machine, but the dust suppression systems and the single engine, rather than double, was a winner as it helps reduce emissions,” he says.

“We’ve had all sorts of different machines. Cat has obviously invested the time and money into this new model making it a worthwhile product.”

Seeing the machine in action helped SU Tunnel and Civil Services decide that the PM620 was the right machine for them. In April, it purchased its first Cat PM620 – the first of the new profilers to be sold in Australia.

The company’s PM620 was commissioned and commenced on site that same month.

While Mr. Moore asserts that profilers such as the PM620 are better known in the road and asphalt space, this particular machine proved an asset to the SU Tunnel and Civil Services crew working on the WestConnex project.

“The modified dust suppression system is very good. Hastings Deering assisted in building in extra spray capabilities, which has made it a lot safer, but has also given us the ability to work the machine 24 hours a day,” says Mr. Moore.

The integrated Cat Grade Control on the machine automatically controls the rotor depth and cross slope to a preset cutting depth, which also proved a major benefit for the project team.

“The 3D grade and slope control guidance system works well in the tunnel environment, which is another safety benefit as it takes operators on the ground out of the equation,” explains Mr. Moore.

“It’s very operator friendly and easily serviceable for maintenance. It’s definitely got that ease of service and Cat has definitely done its homework with these machines.

“It’s also 40 per cent quieter than other profilers out there,” he adds.

SU Tunnel and Civil Services is investigating other tunnel projects in Sydney and Melbourne where its PM620 can make an impact, and is looking at purchasing more profilers in the future.

Mr. Moore says the relationship between SU Tunnel and Civil Services and Hastings Deering is relatively new, but it’s the beginning of a fruitful partnership.

“Hastings Deering has backed and provided us with great support. The upfront effort that they’ve made to modify the machine to suit our requirements has been fantastic,” he says.

“They spent about three days in the tunnel commissioning the machine and WesTrac [another Cat dealership] has been providing back up service and support.

“The PM620 is proven in the European and US markets, but not yet in Australia. Typically, our industry sees this machine as suitable for asphalt and road, but for us, it’s proved an appropriate and efficient machine for a tunnel environment.”

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