A PC400-5HD at a Victorian metal recycling yard has clocked up a striking number of heavy duty hours, showing no signs of slowing.

D2E-Unbreakable-(1).jpgThere are many factors that can affect an excavator's longevity, including heat, operator use, exposure to the elements, maintenance and constant heavy workloads.

OneSteel's Komatsu PC400-5HD has been through it all, and refuses to miss a beat.

Leased by Smorgon Steel in 1995, purchased in 2000 and given hell since day one, the Laverton-based metal recycling yard excavator has had a long, hard life.

Smorgon was acquired by OneSteel in 2007, meaning the excavator has survived two businesses, two decades of different operators and tough conditions. Despite these challenges the excavator has logged an astounding 35,000 hours equivalent to over 1,458 full days, or nearly four years, of non-stop operation.

Exposed to the elements in the metal recycling yard of OneSteel's Laverton steel works, the excavator has spent 20 years cementing Komatsu's reputation for reliability and versatility. With the exception of faded paint, the machine remains in perfect working order.

Laverton has a reputation for summer heat. Despite only being 17km from the city centre, it and neighbouring Altona regularly record the hottest temperatures in Melbourne.

Maintained internally, with major tasks performed by Komatsu technicians, the recycling yard makes harsh demands of plant equipment. Few of the scrap yard's jobs fall outside the wide remit of the excavator.

Depending on the day, the adaptable excavator can be seen moving steel while fitted with a grab, or a magnet with a secondary diesel motor, and occasionally a sieving bucket or flip screen. At other times it will be severing steel with its rail snapper, chopping steel reinforcement with the deformed bar cutter, or moving loads with its dirt bucket.

Operations Manager for Onesteel Recycling Laverton Terry Nicholls leased the PC400 for the Laverton Steel Mill Recycling business in 1995. It is one of a number of Komatsu machines in his fleet.

"Some gear doesn't have the same longevity. The difference is that it's still here, where others have come and gone. It's been going flat strap since 1995," Mr Nicholls says.

"It looks a little worse for wear paint-wise. We have purchased newer equipment as the need arose, but the Komatsu has found its niche. It's built like a fair dinkum scrap machine, it's got a wide body, and it's high and has good clearance.

"Others haven't had the grunt or the wherewithal it's the right machine for the job. It's been a good news story as far as we're concerned."

While heat, dust and heavy work are a challenge for any machine, Mr. Nicholls says the rotation of operators is the excavator's biggest challenge.

"It's used by different operators day in, day out, which gives it a bit of a test to tell you the truth. If you get somebody who treats it as though they own the machine then it assures a long life. Having different operators using it though, the machine has stood up to the task extremely well".

Despite the PC400-5HD's age, there are no plans to replace the excavator at this stage.

"It's certainly going strong, and we don't have any plans to get rid of it, that's for sure." Says Mr. Nicholls.

Komatsu Australia Account Manager Geoff Killury said while he isn't shocked at the longevity of the PC400, he is impressed by the integrity of the machine.

"Komatsu machines are built right the first time. They are engineered to last, and they do. The boys at the Laverton scrap yard have put this machine to the test. I am trying to encourage Terry to go for a hundred thousand hours. With the proper maintenance and servicing there is no reason it won't go the distance."