Industry News, Latest News, New South Wales

Astec: A crucial component

Astec’s SB3000 Shuttle Buggy is the result of both industry insight and internal innovation, as exemplified by the machine’s works on the Western Sydney Airport. Image: Boral.

Astec Industries’ Roadtec SB-3000 Shuttle Buggy is being used as part of recent works on the Western Sydney Airport. Roads & Infrastructure Magazine hears from Astec and preferred project proponent Boral on what makes this iteration so special.

According to the Parliament of New South Wales, Western Sydney represented Australia’s third largest economy while also housing close to half of Sydney’s total population in 2015.

This region of Western Sydney has experienced exponential growth over the past decade. 

As a result, the demand for flights in Sydney is also expected to double over the next two decades. 

This forecasted growth necessitated improvements and expansion to the region’s current aviation and transport infrastructure – a key factor in the development of the new Western Sydney Airport.

The Western Sydney Airport will deliver services for around five million people annually when complete in 2026, with this number expected to reach 10 million passengers by around 2031.

Construction materials company Boral was selected as the supply partner responsible for producing, delivering, and laying the asphalt for the runways, taxiways, and airside roads and pavements at Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport (WSI), in conjunction with the CPB Contractors and ACCIONA Joint Venture.

 Boral used Astec equipment, among others, to deliver works on the Western Sydney Airport. Image: Boral.
Boral used Astec equipment, among others, to deliver works on the Western Sydney Airport. Image: Boral.

Andrew de Villiers, Senior Projects Manager, Asphalt (NSW/ACT) – Boral, says the works on the Western Sydney Airport resulted in coordination being a major requirement.

“The project has been running for quite some time. There’s a lot of different components that had to be brought together to deliver the whole package. We did a lot of design review early on with the client which helped to finalise what was going to be built, based on previous experience,” he says.

To deliver on so many moving parts, Boral utilised multiple internal divisions to complete these works.

“We then had to mobilise an asphalt plant, which was from Astec. We shipped that plant to site in about March 2023,” he says. “Then April through to August we delivered a fully integrated solution. Boral Logistics helped to move all the components to site. De Martin and Gasparini, which is a Boral division, did the concrete footings. Our Boral Asphalt Asset and Maintenance team oversaw the contractors putting the plant together.” 

Machinery and equipment also played an essential role in what is a highly scrutinised project.

“With a project like this, there’s a huge amount of publicity as it’s a very highly visible project. It’s getting a lot of airtime and rightfully so,” de Villiers says. “It’s a huge infrastructure project that fits a gap that’s been sitting in Australia’s infrastructure for decades. So now that it’s here, everyone wants to make sure it’s going well.”

“A key [machinery] requirement for us was reliability. We needed gear that would work as intended, day in and day out.”

Surpassing requirements

Boral has long used Astec equipment and machinery as part of its works Australia-wide. Previous experience, particularly in Perth, with Astec’s Roadtec SB-3000 Shuttle Buggy, indicated the machine could be an ideal fit for the Western Sydney Airport Project.

Jorge Boil, Business Line Manager, Infrastructure – Astec, says the company’s history of manufacturing quality and robust equipment, as well as the track record of that equipment on major infrastructure projects, placed it in the box seat for the Western Sydney Airport Project.

“When this project came along, one of the reasons why they came to Astec was the reliability. They needed a strong and dependable machine for such an important job as this one,” he says.


 

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With increased capacity within the hopper/conveyors, Astec’s Roadtec SB-3000 Shuttle Buggy is capable of storing more than 30 tonnes once fully laden. 

That storage capacity, combined with ‘Four Wheel Steering’, including crab steering, ensures operators can complete medium-to large-scale projects, while retaining the manoeuvrability of a smaller machine.

The SB-3000’s dual hydraulically-controlled platform stations also deliver a range of safety benefits, such as a clear line of sight to the sides, back and front hopper of the machine and nearby personnel working on-site.

Similar to much of Astec’s range, the SB-3000 is also the beneficiary of the Stage Five, Cummins B6.7 engine, a much quieter and environmentally friendly engine design.

Over the years, Astec has sought to constantly improve on its Shuttle Buggy concept, taking in feedback from designers as well as operators across the sector. 

Industry insight highlighted potential improvements to operator comfort and accessibility for both maintenance and operation.

Fine tuning the overall balance of the machine was also a key focus during the development and following improvements to the SB-3000.

“We had some feedback that previous iterations felt a little ‘top heavy’ as it was a taller and slimmer design. That’s why we went with a wider and lower profile design. The tyres, for example, are designed to be thicker and wider. This, along with the lower profile, helps to increase the balance and the visibility,” Boil says.

“The other thing that customers noted was that to maintain previous machines you needed to reach the top of the machine. That’s the reason Astec decided to put major components at ground level, so it’s much easier to carry out the required servicing and maintenance.”

A generational impact 

Astec’s RP195 Asphalt Paver, as well as its Mobile Asphalt Plant, are just some of the other pieces of Astec machinery being used on the project at present.

Astec’s equipment, along with Boral’s expertise, are helping to deliver a project that de Villiers says will benefit the wider region for decades to come.

“Being a part of such a significant infrastructure project is really a once in a lifetime opportunity. You can build new runways, you can build runway re-sheets. Very rarely do you build an entirely new metropolitan airport,” he says.

“It’s great to be a part of something like this. We are also using a lot of people who live in Western Sydney. Lots of our crews are based locally so it’s a real matter of pride for them as well. To be a part of such an enthusiastic and highly skilled team has been a real privilege”.

Jorge Boil agrees. 

“Western Sydney Airport is one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country and we’re proud that Astec equipment is helping to deliver it,” he says. 

This article was originally published in the March edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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