Equipment and Machinery

Make plant your money tree

Making smart decisions with plant purchasing can mean the difference between sink or swim in the competitive world of contract earthmoving.

Stay safe and you will have the same bit of kit as everyone else, but if you can think outside the square, just maybe there are other opportunities to be seized upon.

Case in point is the family owned O’loughlin Excavations earthmoving business based out of Cobram in the north east of Victoria. Owner operator Dwane O’loughlin is successfully running the business with wife Donna, picking up a variety of general earthmoving contracts from jobs at Puckapunyal Army base to tennis courts, and everything in between. Being part of a rural community, it can pay to be a generalist and consequently they have the plant to cater for most jobs in the district. The Federal Government’s ‘Building our Future’ road and rail initiative sparked Dwane’s interest, and he started investigating the opportunity to contract for local council and highways departments in his region.

“I guess I just like to read the papers, and I saw that maybe there was some work coming to the district through this scheme,” said the always positive Dwane. When Moira Shire Council tendered for the maintenance grading contract, O’loughlin Excavations was soon gearing up for the work.

Already armed with a modern water truck and his trusty CAT 12H grader, the missing link in his plant was a suitable towed compaction roller for gravel road maintenance. Running a profitable earthmoving business means staying nimble is key. Self-propelled rollers, while heavy and effective, really fall down at being able to hop daily to different gravel roads. The idea of floating these machines twice a day isn’t conceivable. That’s why Dwane opted for the Broons eCombi smooth drum multi-tyre drawn roller. The compactor tyres have a dual purpose, both as a highway transport mode and once on the gravel road to perform essential compaction work. The 1600mm smooth steel drum performs the extra compactive effort while also splintering small stones and rocks – crucial in forming long lasting pavement construction. Once the stone is broken it has angular edges that lock into other stones, while the fines form a bonding paste to lock them in. Essentially this creates bricks and mortar construction, but on a horizontal wall instead of a vertical one.

With the constant burden of road train activity during harvest or stock movement, the gravel roads are punished almost as much as the bitumen roads on the highway. Without this regular ‘repaving’ maintenance work, roads would simply fall apart and strand the communities that rely on them for not only transport, but also their income.

The second group that Dwane and Donna contract for is VicRoads who are responsible for highway network upkeep. When first discussing rollers, VicRoads had actually mentioned the Broons eCombi as an option themselves. With a ballasted weight nearing 7 tonne, it was also suitable for some road base compaction on highway construction. The VicRoads were also fairly vigorous about the roller being towed behind a grader, which the eCombi can accommodate as easily as a tractor. The fact that one operator can be using the grader and the roller is putting a wage and fuel back in the bank – something that can’t be said for a self-propelled unit.

Keeping both of these government agencies happy has meant O’loughlin Excavations has had to jump through a number of hoops – most significantly compliance to braking for towed rollers. As one of the many options for a Broons eCombi roller, electric over hydraulic disc brakes make these units compliant to Victorian road laws for towed rollers. Fully engineered in house, these symmetrical disc and calliper sets are adjusted via a small easy access control compartment hidden away from dust and moisture on the eCombi main chassis. All of these purchases were an investment that Dwane was prepared to make in the pursuit of what may end up being a 3-year contract.

“There are probably cheaper contractor options for the council, but when you invest in your plant they can see the quality and reliability it brings to their road upkeep. At first the council weren’t convinced the eCombi could get the compaction they were after, but have been pretty impressed with what we have been able to deliver.”

The eCombi comes with the all-important back-up that Broons is renowned for, meaning you aren’t left on your own after purchase. It’s a reality of the industry that normal wear and tear has to be expected, and the Cobram crew will sleep easy knowing that all parts are in stock and that daily maintenance has been engineered to an absolute minimum.

Broons has been manufacturers of towed and ripper mounted rollers for more than 40 years. Based in Gillman South Australia, this family-owned business has rollers working all over Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

For a roller to accomplish your earthmoving outcomes, contact them on (08) 8268 1988 or

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