Astec Industries’ RX600ex cold planer has been chosen by Civil Independence Industries to carry out profiling works in some of Australia’s harshest conditions. Roads & Infrastructure learns more from director Dean Millane and Astec’s Garry van den Beld.
Civil Independence Industries, like many in the flexible pavements industry, is making the most of one of Australia’s fastest growing sectors.
Working from depots in Toowoomba, Queensland and Parkes in New South Wales, Civil Independence Industries’ scope of services includes road profiling, spray sealing, crack sealing, asphalt manufacturing and asphalt placement.
Director Rod Martino and Operations Manager Dean Millane share over 50 years of combined industry experience. The pair pride themselves on identifying the best machinery the sector has to offer, which is why the company acquired an RX600ex cold planer from Astec. Though – as Millane explains – that was not the original intention.
The company was looking for a new batching system for its asphalt plant in Parkes, but Astec proposed a deal that included the RX600ex profiler as an added bonus.
As Millane explains, the offer was too good to turn down.
“Astec put together a great deal that included the batching system for our Parkes asphalt plant and the two-metre profiler. We weren’t looking at purchasing a profiler, but this machine was of interest to us. We do a lot of ‘mill and fill’ asphalt projects,” he says.
The nitty gritty
The Roadtec RX600ex is a 630-horsepower four tracked cold planer, capable of achieving cuts up to 330 millimetres deep and 2.184 metres maximum width.
As Garry van den Beld, Astec National Account Manager – Mobile Asphalt explains, the RX600ex has been designed to deliver optimal balance between weight and power, and that results in excellent cutting capability.
“The RX600ex achieves great traction while maintaining the desired depth of cut. If the machine was too light, it would be bouncing around, affecting the depth. If it was too heavy, all the weight would be in the wrong places. This machine’s balance is ideal.
“And the two-metre option provided by the RX600ex is very popular here in Australia,” he says.
Like the majority of Astec’s equipment range, the RX600ex is powered by a Cummins engine. Here it’s the Cummins QSX15 Tier III diesel engine, a sustainable alternative to conventional engines and one which satisfies EPA Tier III and EU Stage 3 emission standards.
According to van den Beld, the high compliance standards of the RX600ex are a key feature for customers, with the machine’s low exhaust emission and operating noise levels making it ideal for working in inner city areas. He says that having advanced engine technologies in-built means the RX600ex is equally at home operating in tunnels or on major highway projects.
“It’s also very good when it comes to fuel economy,” says van den Beld. “If a machine is using less fuel each day, the accumulated cost savings can be significant.”
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A marquee feature of the RX600ex is the machine’s ‘AUTO CUT’ mode.
As Millane explains, this feature helps to simplify operation for users, while also increasing the accuracy of cut depth.
“The new ‘AUTO CUT’ mode allows the RX600ex to self-level all four legs, before automatically adjusting the rear leg height as the rear tracks enter the cut,” he says.
And the RX600ex’s intuitive control panel has been well received by operators. The simplified system enables the machine to be controlled from either side of the operating platform, a feature that also increases line of sight visibility and enhances job site safety.
Bystander safety was another priority during the development of the RX600ex. In addition to an efficient extraction system that removes dust and debris from the vicinity of the milling operation, the RX600ex also incorporates rear object detection.
This feature can stop the machine if an object or person is detected while in reverse mode. A set of E-Stop mechanical buttons at ground level can also be used to disable or stop the machine if necessary, further reducing the chances of accidental collisions with other workers or objects.
“Vibration was also a focus during development,” van den Beld says.
“Operators working long hours can experience sustained body vibration. But rubber vibration isolators on the RX600ex minimise the impact of that for operators.”
The drum philosophy
The RX600ex features an intuitive drum design which supports the quick and efficient changing of drum types.
The Astec QX1 Quick Change cutter tooling system gives users better access to worn parts located on the cutter drum. This unique system was designed to provide increased access for part replacement, which in turn helps to drive down overall maintenance and running costs.
“Time is money,” van den Beld says, “so the quicker you can replace these cutting heads and get back to work, the better.”
Millane says he’s seen the advantages of Astec’s new drum design first-hand.
“The cutting drum doesn’t seem to have as much drag on the machine, even while cutting deep solid asphalt,” he says. “And even when working on soft terrain, the machine is very stable.”
Millane says the RX600ex has accumulated more than 1600 hours of operation in often difficult terrain and conditions, but the machine’s only real downtime has been for routine maintenance.
“Currently the machine is being used on emergency flood work in Central West NSW. We can’t fault it. It’s straight-forward to set up, easy to use and very reliable,” he says.
The company has also been impressed by Astec’s on-going after sales support for repairs and spare parts.
“We’re a small business,” Millane says, “but they treat us as if we’re one of the big players in the industry. Their service has been great and overall, it’s fair to say, we’re very impressed.”
This article was originally published in the February edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.