SOUTHERN AFRICA’S FIRST SDLG WHEEL LOADER CONTINUES TO HEAD OPERATIONS AT SOUTH AFRICAN BULK TERMINALS
The very first SDLG wheel loader, an LG958L, to be sold in Southern Africa by regional dealer Babcock International, has now amassed some 5,000 operating hours in extreme conditions at South African Bulk Terminals in Durban, South Africa. Despite the workload already under its belt the machine continues to front operations around the clock at the portside facility where some 2.4 million tonnes of dry bulk is loaded/off-loaded per annum.
At SABT Diesel Workshop - the company’s in-house repair and maintenance operation - Workshop Foreman, Wentzel Nel says: “SABT’s investment in the SDLG LG958L wheel loader has proved to be a master stroke. In all the time we’ve run this machine we’ve not encountered a single leaking hose or cylinder. I would say SDLG is far and away the best Chinese brand without question and the reliability and productivity is equal to anything else on the market.”
SABT operates twin storage facilities with a combined capacity of 120,000 tonnes, handling a mixture of products including soya, maize, wheat, sunflower seeds and pellets, rice, fertilisers, sorghum malt for beer production and fluorspar – the mineral form of calcium fluoride.
“Fluorspar is by far the most demanding product we handle,” explains Wentzel. “It is very aggressive as well as weighing approximately 1.4 tonnes/m3 because it has to be stored and handled while moist. In this respect, the performance of SDLG LG958L really comes into its own. With the support of Babcock International, we extended the bucket to a capacity of 4.9m3 and in this configuration the single SDLG machine matches the productivity of two alternative 9.5 tonne loaders.”
SABT trialled various wheel loaders before making its purchase decision and the SDLG LG958L impressed from the outset. “We even tested this machine in the hull of a ship and it outperformed all the other machines in the trial,” says Wentzel. “Unfortunately, at 16-tonnes operating weight it was just too heavy for the ship cranes so regular operations are limited to portside.”
Subsequent to the first SDLG wheel loader, SABT now operates a second unit, a 6-tonne class LG918, at its 9-line rail yard where it is used to shunt freight wagons.
While the original SDLG LG958L is in relatively standard specification, Wentzel and his team have fitted LED working lights and mounted the oil cooler on swivels so that it can quickly and easily be swung out for cleaning. “It’s an incredibly dusty environment in the storage bunkers, so regular maintenance and cleaning is crucial,” says Wentzel. “To this end we clean the radiators and filters with compressed air very day and every 250-hours we pressure wash them and then blow them out with compressed air. With fluorspar in particular, it is essential to keep all critical components clean because if this material is left to dry it becomes rock solid and would trash such as a radiator instantly.”
Another key to reliability has been the company’s dedicated use of original SDLG parts according to Wentzel. “I’ve made the use of original OEM parts standard practice here at SABT,” he says. “I firmly believe this policy helps us to avoid problems and prevents a snowball effect towards greater issues at a later date. We run our own spares store and while spares were originally a bit of an issue in relation to SDLG, the situation has improved greatly over the last couple of years.”
Throughout the company’s ownership of the SDLG wheel loaders, Wentzel says the service and support provided by dealer, Babcock International has been exceptional. “I think it’s fair to say that Babcock has mastered the art of looking after customers,” he says.
In port, SABT is a round-the-clock operation at which the SDLG LG958L and its two supporting 9 .5 tonne wheel loaders can load 18,000 tonnes of fluorspar onto a vessel in just 3-days. Similarly, when it comes to loading trucks for road transport from the port, the three machines are capable of loading 55-60 trucks in a single 12-hour shift.
“Through a combination of our experience, our ownership of the entire process and the use of highly productive equipment such as the SDLG LG958L wheel loader, we have achieved a market leading position in this business,” enthuses Wentzel.