A combination of proven performance, reliability, efficiency and operator comfort ensure recycling materials specialist Alex Fraser Group keeps purchasing Komatsu equipment for its operations in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Alex Fraser is Australia's leading recycler of construction and demolition materials. In November last year, it completed the $45 million upgrading of its Laverton operation in Melbourne, where ten Komatsu machines are playing a key role: 2 x PC400-6, 2 x PC300-6, 2 x PC300-7 and a PC350-7 excavators, plus a WA500-6 and WA600-6 wheel loaders and a D85A-21.
The company is in the middle of a major upgrading of its Melbourne and Brisbane facilities, a process which will continue over the next few years.
In Melbourne in addition to the Laverton upgrade it has just opened a new site at Clayton, and work has started on an upgrade of its Epping site, to be completed in 2012, while in Brisbane its Nudgee and Archerfield operations were upgraded in 2009.
According to Laverton Site Manager Brent Alford, key reasons Alex Fraser Group purchases Komatsu machinery are reliability and operator comfort.
"We have used other brands and the WA500 size machine has been tried and proven as a face loader at all of our sites," he said. "Two of our sites use WA500-6's and three use WA500-3's."
The WA480 has also proven to be a good sales loader for the operations at Nudgee and Archerfield.
Brent said that operator comfort and efficiency of operation were important elements with excavators.
Brent also recognises the ability of the HydauMind hydraulic system "The ability of Komatsu excavators to carry out dual functions simultaneously when operating is very advantageous to us," he said.
"For example we're able to track the machine while operating the boom at the same time.
"We use a hydraulic pulveriser on the excavators, which we can operate at the same time as the arm. This gives us quicker cycle times which leads to more tonnes of production per hour."
Alex Fraser's operators are also involved in new equipment purchases, said Brent.
"Before we buy a piece of equipment we make sure it's been test driven by some of our operators. We're making sure it's fit for the job and that it provides good operator comfort, and our operators are more than happy with the Komatsu range," he said.
Peter Murphy, Alex Fraser's Chief Operating Officer, said regular dialogue was an important part of the company's operational relationship with key suppliers like Komatsu.
Our team constantly review the operational aspects of our plants" he said. "Komatsu makes up a major part of our fleet, with 34 pieces of Komatsu equipment.
"We find we get good backup, when there's an issue Komatsu will try and work through it with us. The machines are a good fit for our operations and there's good long-term consistency between models of the machines.
This is important in Melbourne where we do most of our own maintenance, some of our gear is brand new and some of it is 15 years old so some parts interchangability is an advantage.
In Brisbane and on our demolition sites we use Komatsu field service regularly and the feedback from our operations people is good.
Our Demolition crew do very specialised demolition in locations around Australia and New Zealand, so reliability of equipment and good field service support is critical.
Alex Fraser's upgrading and expansion is in part being made possible through the involvement of the Swire Group, based in Hong Kong, which purchased a majority share of the company some years ago.
"This is allowing us to grow our business in a secure way, with the additional resources available to us.
"Alex Fraser has always been an innovative business, run successfully with a strong degree of forward thinking and we are looking to see the business grow further," he said.
"Our major upgrade process is focussed on two key drivers for our customers: consistent quality of our products, and fast truck turnaround time. Any piece of gear that helps us turn our customer's trucks around quickly is supporting a crucial part of our business.
Alex Fraser's plant upgrade process also includes a three-year equipment purchasing program to meet the requirements of its plants.
To put it all into perspective, at the opening of the company's upgraded Laverton facility, Jamie McKellar, Alex Fraser Group's Managing Director told the assembled guests who included Victorian Premier John Brumby and John Swire and Sons Australia Chairman Bill Rothery that over the past 20 years, the company had recycled about 22 million tonnes of material.
"That represents 22 million tonnes of quarried material that's still available to be used, and 22 million tonnes of material that didn't go to landfill," said Jamie.