Infrastructure and construction services companies ACCIONA and CPB Contractors have been extremely active in the Australian market recently, participating in key areas of the ongoing Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport (WSI) works. This includes bringing their expertise to the major earthworks project and construction of the WSI runway which they are delivering in a joint venture (JV).
ACCIONA’s Western Sydney Airport Bulk Earthworks Plant Manager Gary Steen points to the sheer scale of the earthworks, which will move over 25 million m3 of material.
“By pretty much any measure, it’s a massive undertaking,” said Gary, who draws on four decades of experience in the industry and was involved with the tender for the earthworks project.
“I’ve been on the job since day one, setting up the workshop, recruiting the plant team and managing the fleet,” he told EEM. “I’ve loved machinery since I was a boy, so for me this project has been an incredible experience: definitely the highlight of my career, and there will never be another job like it.
“It’s the biggest civil earthmoving project in Australia, with over 300 machines on the job at the peak of production, including the biggest fleet of scrapers ever assembled on one job at 78 units, along with a 25-member plant team working out of the onsite workshops to ensure excellent availability of the gear.”
Scheduled to open in late 2026, WSI will cater for up to 10 million domestic and international passengers annually and is poised to become one of the biggest gateways to Australia.
Massive project scale presents unique challenges
Gary pointed to the range of challenges associated with the scale of the major earthworks, which has required a strategic and highly-coordinated approach to meet deadlines. Environmental protection has also been a key component of the project.
“Having such a massive plant fleet spread over such a large area always has its challenges,” he said. “But with careful planning and a great support team, we’ve achieved excellent plant availability and reached our handover targets as planned.
“The wet weather has also been a major challenge, with the wettest period on record for the area having occurred at the peak of production on the job.”
The ACCIONA-CPB Contractors joint venture was recognised for its work earlier this year with the International Erosion Control Association’s Environmental Excellence Award. For Gary, the award stands as an endorsement of “not just following but leading the market through walking the walk.”
The ACCIONA-CPB Contractors joint venture navigated multiple environmental challenges associated with the earthworks, revolving largely around the project scale and the area and volume of material to be moved. The JV developed innovative tools and processes to manage the risks, including monthly sediment basin catchment mapping and volume reporting by aerial surveys.
This enabled monitoring of the effectiveness of controls as earthworks progressed at approximately 1 million cubic metres of dirt every month, while the project transitioned from 16 catchments to four.
Liebherr PR 756 G8 Dozers deliver all-round performance benefits
Of course, in undertaking a project of this scale, efficient and reliable equipment capable of getting the job done day in and day out is an absolute necessity, so the joint venture has been harnessing the capabilities of Liebherr earthmoving machines. Liebherr not only has a global presence like ACCIONA does, but both companies share histories as family businesses and a focus on leadership in innovation and sustainability. Saving the planet has proven to be a foundation for the relationship between the two companies.
Gary told EEM that the Liebherr PR 756 G8 dozers deployed across the project have been a critical part of its operations and “are among the most utilised plant items in our fleet.”
“The Liebherr product has a proven design with excellent back-up and support,” he commented. “The PR 756 G8 dozers are the perfect all-round machine that can be used to perform a number of different duties. Fitted with GPS and a multi-shank ripper, they’re extremely versatile.
“The performance to date has been great. We have been using the PR 756 G8 dozers for a variety of duties, including maintaining stockpiles, batter work, general site duties and also working with our twin-powered scraper fleet.”
Gary highlighted fuel economy, extended service intervals and cleaner exhaust emissions among key machine features. “Operators have observed that the machines are very user- friendly and extremely comfortable to operate. “Not only is the dozer quiet, it’s also very smooth and has excellent pushing power. The various systems on the machine can be set to accommodate different work duties and makes the machine easy to adapt to the work required, while it is also very stable on batters,” he said.
“Ultimately, our customers see that we are using the latest technology on the market, which provides reliability and productivity, along with lower fuel burn and reduced emissions, including noise emissions, which is good for overall business as well as for the community and environment.”
ACCIONA’s Plant EGM, Hamish MacCormick said that ACCIONA had invested “circa $20 million with Liebherr already, on dozers, loaders and piling rigs because Liebherr equipment simply reduces our Co2 emissions without compromising productivity, in fact improving it in most cases. We will continue our investment with Liebherr in a fully-electric Foundation fleet including piling rigs, cranes and excavators.”
Liebherr PR 756 G8 Dozer features
The Liebherr PR 756 G8 dozer weighs in at 35.4 to 43t, running a 260 kW Liebherr D 946 A7 Tier 4 Final engine, and decked out with a blade capacity of 8.92-11.8 m3.
Liebherr describes its new Generation 8 crawler dozers as “the perfect answer to the demands of the modern construction site.” Application preparation is easy and effective, with light and heavy applications supported by intelligence assistance systems, providing operators enhanced control over machine operations, and service logistics. There’s an ideal combination of speed and traction, so an operator can choose the highest possible speed for the operating conditions, and directly call up full thrust when required via the joystick, while the Liebherr hydrostatic drive automatically delivers correct traction when ripping.
Liebherr’s Operator Assistance Systems include three levels of driver support: Free Grade, for active blade stabilisation during fine grading; Definition Grade, for automatic blade positioning when creating simple 2D surfaces, and 3D Grade from Topcon as optional GNSS machine control for modelling complex terrain forms (factory-installed kits are also available, allowing for retrofitting of machine control systems in the field).
And that quietness that Gary referred to comes from Liebherr’s Silent Design, with hydro-elastic bearing mounts giving effective sound absorption and the lowest levels of acoustic noise, enhanced by the combination of the low speed of the Liebherr diesel engine, the demand-controlled hydrostatic fan and the standard drive.
The spacious cabin features an adjustable seat and joysticks, with a seat contact switch that detects the operator’s presence, while a 9-inch touch display provides access to all settings for the drive and operating hydraulics. The advanced lighting layout illuminates the outermost corners of the machine. These are all features that ensure the operator’s comfort with a strong safety focus.
Other innovative features include the Liebherr EVO Generation, high-torque engine with increased nominal power; a highly automated, stepless drive and electronically controlled operating hydraulics; an advanced machine interface and automated task movements; integrated 3D technology via Sitelink 3D, along with the classic 2D surface modelling.