Hire equipment and service vital to contractor’s business

February 26, 2016,

In the cut-throat world of contracting and hiring, it is not just the quality of the mobile plant and equipment but the servicing that counts in a contractor’s business.

Supply chains are most often considered in terms of the way a product gets from its basic roots to market. A pumpkin grown on a farm is picked, packed, stored, then delivered to the supermarket and sold.

That’s probably one of the simplest scenarios but it’s not the only scenario. Think about a different type of supply chain, like the one that exists between Tenkate and Finlay Screening & Crushing. Both are hire companies but one hires from the other and then on-hires both the hired equipment plus its services.

So, in this scenario the supply chain is a bit more intricate, and Tenkate must rely on Finlay to provide the right equipment and expertise as this can have a serious impact on how Tenkate can do its job.

Tenkate supplies its services and personnel to quarries in Queensland to perform tasks such as bulk earthworks programs to remove overburden. It loads, hauls, spreads, compacts, strips and generally makes a quarry site ready for blasting.

“We started off as stripping, bulk earthworks, stripping the quarries back to the hard rock for the quarries to do their blasting. We also work sand mines, stripping off the overburden down to sand,” explained Graham Byers, Tenkate’s quarry services manager.

Tenkate hires out people with a wide range of its own equipment. “At Tenkate, we have 160 machines we use, such as excavators and dozers, and we also have the biggest fleet of six-wheel-drive dump trucks in Australia owned by a private operator,” Byers continued.

“We don’t own much of our own plant at the moment, but we are just playing with machines to see what machines are suitable to purchase. We own our own scalp screens, stacker and conveyors. In the last 18 months, we’ve been hiring major crushing gear, a full crushing circuit to do aggregates and road bases.”

Tenkate works for a whole gamut of companies, from the very large like Boral and Hanson all the way down to small family owned quarries.

“We’ve done the Narangba quarry on the north side of Brisbane for Boral, stripping the overburden off the top of their hill for them,” Byers said. “For Boral at Coolum, we did a major stripping job for them there. For Boral at Lawnton, we‘ve been doing major stuff there for the last couple of years, stripping overburden down to the sand floor. We also had our own 70-tonne excavators and 40-tonne rigid trucks on a load and haul contract for Earth Commodities at Gladstone. We also shifted our whole screening plant to Mackay to do 100,000 tonnes of road base up there.”

According to Ronnie Bustard, the hire and technical manager for Finlay Screening and Crushing, Tenkate had other mobile plant on the Gladstone and Mackay sites but approached him to supply the specialised equipment.

Between Bustard and Byers they came up with the specification of machines needed to do the job properly.

“We set the machines up and on the second test, we were meeting spec and had them running at 325 tonnes per hour,” Bustard said.

“Tenkate’s requirements were 300 tph and they wanted to make the material that wasn’t meeting spec, we had to make spec. So just through experience, from working with this type of material, we selected these machines.

The selected machines were the C-1550 cone crusher, the 984 horizontal screen, the J-1175 jaw crusher and the AC210 TwisterTrac VSI. Bustard added that Finlay updates its fleet every year. About 95 per cent of the hire fleet is less than a year old and has completed less than 2000 hours of work.

Finlay was given a set of instructions regarding what was expected from the machinery and they delivered.

“There were very little fines in the raw feed and Tenkate were actually blending fines into the raw feed material. So they were having to import the fines and by doing that, when blending, they were buying it from an outside source. It was bringing up the tonnage by cost per tonne,” said Bustard.

“So what we’ve done is put in the J-1175. It has the independent pre-screen that helped the material bypass the chamber and it gave us better tonnage through that jaw crusher.

“We then put the J-1175 onto the 984 20’ x 6’ horizontal screen and we split it off with a 40mm top deck mesh. A 20mm mesh was put into the bottom deck and we put 40-28mm into the VSI, and the VSI was then crushing that and generating the fines.”

Byers confirmed that Finlay had met Tenkate’s requirements. “Their production rate has been what they said they will do, the production rate has been really good,” he said. “We had some teething problems with the TwisterTrac but Finlay has been very thorough with maintenance for the whole plant – the cone, the jaw, the screen.”

Tenkate has plenty of work and it is not a small company, so it has the infrastructure, experience and the financial resources to choose whether it buys or hires its equipment.

“At the moment, we’re hiring. We have other projects where we are looking at hiring to buy. On long term projects, we prefer to hire to buy,” Byers said.

Apart from being able to solve Tenkate’s problems by specifying and supplying the right machinery, Byers said that one of other major reasons they use Finlay is the service.

“The back-up service from Finlay has been excellent,” he said. “If you don’t have the service from the company you hire the stuff off, you may as well not have it. That’s why we went to Finlay. Most of Finlay’s gear I’ve used before, when I was with other companies. But it’s mainly due to the service, the service is the priority.”

Byers has spent more than 20 years in the quarry industry and he is well aware of the machinery and suppliers, and even more aware of the trouble that ensues if you don’t have good back-up. He is adamant that it is the service aspect that Finlay provides that secures his business.

“Their back-up service cannot be faulted,” Byers declared. “We had to change jaw plates, so Finlay organised for fitters to put new jaw plates in for us. The service was excellent. That’s what we rely on, especially when we’re working away at some of these places. You have to rely on service.”

Many of the locations where Tenkate operates are far from major towns or cities so access to engineering workshops and skilled tradesmen can be problematic. If you don’t have good back up you could end up losing quite a few days of work waiting for a machine to be repaired.

That’s not just a dilemma as if the machine isn’t working then money is being lost, but as a contractor, Tenkate’s reputation is at stake. The next job from Boral may not go their way and in such a close industry word spreads fast if a company becomes unreliable.

“The back-up service is the most important thing out,” Byers emphasised. “Some suppliers, all they want to do is hire the gear and then when it breaks down, they’re not interested,” said Byers. “Finlay has never let us down in that department.”