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Quality Fabrication and Engineering: Changing the game

Rich River Asphalt’s Road Ant unit in action.

Since acquiring two ‘Road Ant’ forward moving aggregate spreaders, Rich River Asphalt has seen previously closed doors and opportunities open up. Rich River Asphalt General Manager Darren Wilson explains how the machines have revolutionised the company’s offerings.

Like many other spray seal and asphalt manufacturers, Rich River Asphalt faced the challenge of acquiring forward moving spreader equipment in order to adhere to impending changes from VicRoads.

These changes (concerning VicRoads Standard 408.11) also provided a new opportunity to distinguish Rich River Asphalt’s services from other providers, all of whom were faced with the same task.

As Rich River Asphalt General Manager Darren Wilson recalls, after a thorough search, Quality Fabrication & Engineering’s offerings caught the company’s eye.

“We did quite a bit of research on the different options that were available to us,” he says. “We needed a product that could meet all of our needs and requirements. The Road Ant was a relatively new design at the time, and we had no prior relationship with Quality Fabrication & Engineering.

“They were fantastic throughout the whole process.”

Following initial discussions with Quality Fabrication & Engineering in January 2022, Rich River Asphalt acquired its first two Road Ant units in July and August 2022 respectively.

Prior to receiving the forward moving aggregate spreader units, Rich River Asphalt had previously required a larger crew to complete jobs. The Road Ant(s) not only helped Rich River Asphalt to immediately save costs, but also de-risk its jobs sites.

“When you have Cover Runners and pedestrians near a tipper there’s always a risk of that person being hurt, colliding with the truck for example. This obviously got to a stage where VicRoads said that enough was enough,” Wilson says.

“Despite the initial investment required to buy the truck, you’re technically saving money straight away because you save using two crew members, there’s no need for them to run cover anymore. You save money in the long run and the impacts on risk and safety outweigh the cost as well.”

 The Road Ant can now spread material to a width of 3.4 metres.
The Road Ant can now spread material to a width of 3.4 metres.

Pushing project productivity 

Formed in 2015, Rich River Asphalt specialises in asphalt production and supply, as well as spray sealing. This includes asphalt laying, with the Victorian based company placing an emphasis on supporting local contractors and suppliers.

Wilson says both Road Ant units have allowed Rich River Asphalt to complete works in both rural and urban applications, aided by the units considerable manoeuvrability despite its size. Both machines are now used on a daily basis and are usually the first on-site. 

Thanks to the versatility of the Road Ant design, Rich River Asphalt is also able to use both machines year-round. Wilson explains.

“We’re able to remove the spreader box on both machines and turn them into just asphalt trucks,” he says. “We were amongst the first to do that as well.”


 

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The Road Ant unit provides plenty of options to develop a machine that can meet the requirements of a variety of applications.

On top of offering independent driving control from both ends of the machine, the Road Ant can be fitted to a variety of cab chassis, including Iveco, Isuzu, DAF, Volvo and Hino Trucks. 

Quality Fabrication and Engineering General Manager Glenn Hardiman says the business has been busy expanding the offerings of its Road Ant units.

“We have just completed and delivered our first of four Road Ants fitted to Volvo Cab Chassis, the preferred truck of our customer Primal Surfacing/InRoads. A lot has been learnt in the build of these units, with the help of Charles Bunker-Smith, Volvo Sales Manager, Derrimut – CMV Truck & Bus and his team of engineers,” he says.

The Road Ant supports a variety of attachments, allowing it to be configured to best suit specific works such as road shoulders and the spreading of materials such as crushed rock and asphalting.

Hardiman says more work is being done to increase the potential capacity for these materials in the Road Ant unit.

“We have been able to control accelerator, transmission shift and other communications via the Volvo system. We’ve also made modifications to the Trout River chip spreader, increasing its holding capacity and enabling us to comfortably spread to a width of 3.4 meters,” he says.

This also includes upgrades to the machines internal systems.

“Our custom hydraulic control system now has been updated to include tachometer and speedometer on the rear cabin screen, enabling the operator to easily regulate and maintain road speed,” Hardiman says.

“The system has also been upgraded to automatically lubricate and record duration of cycle, greatly reducing conveyor chain maintenance and increasing chain life.”

Quality Fabrication & Engineering can also assist with the installation of the initial setup of the machine, a service that Rich River Asphalt happily accepted.

“The process with those guys was really seamless. Their backup service is fantastic,” Wilson says.

Rich River Asphalt has had great success with both units, using them on projects of all sizes for stakeholders such as VicRoads, BildGroup, RECivil and Coburns Earthmoving.

“Since receiving both machines, we’ve used them on all our projects. We haven’t used the tippers since,” he says.

“We’ve been using them on our smaller jobs, which we didn’t think was possible before our operators were trained and caught up to speed. It’s amazing what they can do now with these units.”

Wilson says Rich River Asphalt has been able to better compete for larger contracts, many of which state the use of forward moving aggregate spreaders as a requirement.

“It’s definitely helped us, while also increasing the quality of our jobs. The quality of our seals has increased while using these machines,” he says.

“Investing in these machines is absolutely worth it in the long run.” 

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

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