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SRE: No limits

SRE’s six metre telescopic sprayer exhibits the latest in machinery technology for both New Zealand and Australia. Image: SRE.

Roads & Infrastructure Magazine speaks with Specialised Roading Equipment’s Chris Kaelin to learn more about the company’s latest technological innovations regarding its six metre telescopic sprayer.

Chris Kaelin, Specialised Roading Equipment (SRE) Technical Manager, is as passionate as they come when it comes to the development of equipment, hardware and software in the road construction machinery sector.

His long-term employer – SRE – has made a name for itself, thanks to its design, manufacturing and distribution of road construction equipment, particularly telescopic bitumen sprayers across Australia and New Zealand.

SRE’s six-metre telescopic bitumen sprayer is one of the most technologically advanced sprayers currently available in the market. Designed specifically for both emulsion and bitumen use, including crumb rubber for Australian applications, it’s the “sprayer that’s got everything”.

“Our six-metre sprayers have been around since 2000 and have been constantly updated since then,” Kaelin says. “The main goal was to be able to provide a locally built sprayer that gives enhanced functionality when it comes to automation. That’s really where it started and additional features have been put on it ever since.”

When it comes to the many technological milestones reached throughout the life of the sprayer, Kaelin says SRE’s real time job data transfer system comes close to taking the cake.

“A big change for us about eight years ago was the introduction of our web-based job management system. When the spray run is complete, all the key metrics about the spray run can be sent back to the cloud and the supervisor or facility manager can download that data and view that information online or physically, almost instantly,” he says.

“It helps to streamline that documentation and required recording of information around aspects such as binder types, application rates, coats, chip sizes, additives and more. We’ve been able to tailor that system to work in conjunction with existing software that companies may be already using.”

Feedback from operators and fleet managers, as well as modern in industry requirements, have kept the SRE team on its toes. One example has been the implementation of systems that make it possible and easier to use crumb rubber, now a must for many operators in the Australian market.


 

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“In Australia many still used fix-wing spraying, so we’ve created a fix-wing function,” Kaelin says.  

“When you go between a crumb rubber product and an emulsion product there can sometimes be a bit of product that is stuck and leftover. That’s why we introduced a function where the end of the jet helps to suck that product out of the nozzle.”

SRE welcomes such changes, instead of viewing differing requirements as a hassle.

“We’re very open to what the customer wants and the dynamic of the business makes it very easy to implement some of these changes, especially when you’ve got a PLC-based control system. It’s very easy to add functionality. You don’t need to run wires and switches and that tends to be straight forward,” Kaelin says.

Support and servicing 

A factor in the success of SRE’s equipment and growth throughout the past 10 years, in particular in Australia, has been the company’s devotion to taking care of the customer.

How does the company do this? It uses the latest technology, as well as dedicated staff to minimise downtime.

As Kaelin explains, the company uses a proven process to first assess and diagnose the seriousness of a mechanical or electrical issue. 

“We can look remotely from the office, tap in, and see if the issue is related to the control system, if it’s a sensor issue or if there’s more to it,” he says. “If it’s a mechanical issue, the next steps will usually see us call a local support contact. If we need to change a part, depending on where it is, we can ship in parts. The advantage of being in New Zealand is that we’re only a two-hour flight away.”

Customers can also request additional training and guidance for their SRE machinery. This service is frequented by companies with newer operators and also a useful reminder of how to optimise certain features.

Kaelin says this training and guidance usually takes between two to three days. The same goes for an initial machine handover. 

This support is available nationwide across both New Zealand and Australia, with SRE targeting the latter for greater growth, as well as the potential establishment of a dedicated site for local support services.

“Continuing to push in the Australian market is a really exciting prospect. I’ve been travelling out to Australia quite a bit recently, bringing a more advanced product into the Australian market that’s tailored to the industry’s needs and seeing the results have been great,” Kaelin says. 

“That, I’m very proud of.” 

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

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