CJD Equipment has allowed a family-owned transport and landscaping business to make the leap into quarrying, with a reliable wheel loader and the service to match.
Blue Ridge Quarries was purchased by the Millikin family just a few years ago, having worked in and around the operation for more than a decade. Quarry manager Aaron Millikin found his first job out of school at the hard rock quarry before he followed father Jeff’s footsteps into the family transport and landscaping business – Greenlands Garden Centre.
Now a thriving business along New South Wales’ south coast, the Millikin’s decided they’d become a one stop shop for construction aggregates and bought the fully operational Blue Ridge Quarry to accompany Greenlands. Of course, producing up to 150,000 tonnes of material every year can be quite the task, for which Blue Ridge called on its relationship with CJD Equipment.
The companies first worked together when Blue Ridge ordered several yard loaders for the landscaping business, before moving into the quarry and selecting a second-hand, 38-tonne Volvo excavator from CJD. That was almost three years ago, and Aaron Millikin told Quarry the excavator had barely skipped a beat.
“That digger has been a great asset for the team, and it’s never let us down,” he said. “Since then, we were in the market for a newer, bigger loader which ended up being the Volvo L220H and we haven’t looked back since.”
The 31-tonne L220H is one of the largest in CJD’s Volvo wheel loaders range, with a 273-kilowatt engine and a breakout force of 244.5 kilonewtons. Such power is what has allowed Blue Ridge to sign some household names as customers, according to Millikin.
“The proudest part of our business has been improving some of our materials that previously hadn’t met spec and getting them over the line,” Millikin said.
“Some of our aggregates are passed through a hot mix plant, we have quite a few concrete plants receiving our aggregates and our DGB (densely graded base) is now meeting an RMS (Roads & Maritime Services) spec.
“They were all quite proud goals we’ve been able to achieve and this has allowed us to pick up some bigger customers such as Boral and Holcim.”
Despite keeping the fuel economy to a reasonable level, according to Millikin, the L220H has still been able to accomplish the work of two of his old loaders, thanks to a well-designed bucket.
Volvo offers several bucket options on this wheel loader range – which also includes the L150H and the L180H – to suit applications in rehandling, general purpose, rock and light material.
Millikin said the team at CJD had been able to understand his application and offer the best size and weight for Blue Ridge.
“The bucket fits in the truck bodies well, it’s not too wide, while still being able to load the trailer in two buckets for most material,” he said. “Sometimes, with the old loaders, we used to be loading a truck and trailer in three to five buckets, but the new model has saved us those extra trips.”
Other features Millikin has enjoyed include the joystick, part of the Comfort Drive Control steering, and the hydraulic system which both allow for one of the smoothest loaders he or his operators have ever used.
“I drove the loader for the first three months and the joystick has to be one of my favourite features. It’s just well positioned and perfectly smooth, I’d never buy another loader without it,” Millikin said. “I have a driver in it right now who came from working with other brands and he rates it quite highly among machines he’s operated in the past.”
And if ever there’s an issue with Volvo equipment at Blue Ridge Quarry, the CJD team are well prepared to respond in a crisis or provide some simple advice.
Millikin said he’s developed a strong relationship with his local CJD mechanic Richard which generally allows for same day repairs.
“We had a very minor hiccup once and within 24 hours Richard from CJD was straight down to sort it out,” Millikin concluded.
“There’s never an issue with him, we can talk to him over the phone and he can normally sort something out for us on the day.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as him explaining something over the phone for us to work on ourselves, but there’s really been minimal problems for us to call him about.”