Hydraulic shovel operators at O’Neal Quarry in Calera, Alabama, USA, have one primary job: Remove overburden to expose the mineral reserves underneath. These reserves are used by owner Lhoist North America to provide aggregates and heavy building materials that are used to build the infrastructure on which we depend every day.
The more productively these operators work, the more quickly these reserves become available. And in the last year, shovel operators at O’Neal Quarry have been uncovering more than ever before – thanks in part to a new Cat® 6015B Hydraulic Shovel.
“We’ve had the Cat 6015B on site since December of 2014 and have seen about a 20 percent increase in production, which for us is a significant step up,” says Rob Massengale, operation supervisor at O’Neal.
O’Neal Quarry was one of four sites selected to validate the power, efficiency and capacity of the new 6015B. “We placed them in the subarctic and we’ve placed them in semi-tropical locations,” says Arthur Milkowski, Caterpillar platform manager for the new shovel model. “We have seen this machine in temperatures from 100 degrees to minus 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) and we’ve had very harsh conditions. We also chose customers that essentially have very high duty applications, running 20-plus hours a day.”
Building on the robust and productive Cat 5110B, the 6015B delivers a productivity advantage over other 100-tonne shovels thanks to the most powerful engine in its class, a large standard bucket and payload capacity of 14.6 tonnes (16 tons). The shovel delivers a pass match advantage over leading standard-equipped shovels in its class when loading trucks of 55-, 65- and 90-tonne capacities.
The 6015B has been designed to fill a Cat 773 mining truck in four passes, a 775 in five passes and a 777 in seven passes using an 8.1 cubic-meter (10.6 cubic-yard) bucket.
“We’ve been able to go from a five- and six-pass down to a four-pass with the 6015B with the increased bucket size,” says Massengale. “The machine seems to handle a little bit faster as well.”
To keep up with the shovel’s productivity, an additional truck was added to the cycle. “They had to put a fifth truck on us to keep up with the machine,” says shovel operator Dale Riffe. “I don’t see a problem keeping up with five trucks. I mean, that’s just total production digging right there.”
Increased power and performance
The 6015B is equipped with a single Cat C27 ACERT™ engine that provides 606 kW of rated power. As with all hydraulic shovels, the greater the engine power, the greater the digging power and the faster the digging cycles. The large, 8.1 cubic-meter (10.6 cubic-yard) standard bucket, outfitted with Cat C70 hammerless GET, further boosts production capability.
“It’s got plenty of power,” says John Harris, shovel operator. “It’s loading four or five passes on the 775—and they’re (fully) loaded.”
The 6015B front is sturdy and strong, yet light enough to enable fast cycle times. It’s built upon the robust 5110B platform, which is proven durable and reliable, and the entire machine benefits from extensive use of proven Cat components. An improved filtration system ensures consistent oil cleanliness and hydraulic system performance.
“It’s like a mule. It never quits,” says Riffe. “It’s always productive. (For) a 10-, 12-hour shift; it’s awesome. You couldn’t ask for a better machine.”
Caterpillar’s proprietary integrated engine control technologies, a boom float feature that regenerates boom oil for reduced engine demand, an oil cooling system that’s independent of engine cooling, and regeneration of swing energy via its closed-loop swing system, all increase fuel efficiency.
“This machine is able to run two shifts on a tank of fuel,” says Brandon Davis, a service technician for Cat dealer Thompson Tractor, which supports O’Neal Quarry’s Cat equipment fleet. “It burns about half a tank per shift.”
In addition, Cat automatic flow proportioning technology creates more efficient hydraulic pump utilization, reduced energy losses and increased fuel savings.
The 6015B has also proven to be easy to service for improved machine availability. Easy access to parts and systems, an improved filtration system, logically located components and ground-level grease and fuel access make maintenance faster and easier.
“Everything is easy to get to,” says Davis. “You can walk all around the engine, except the front – but you can get through a couple of doors and actually access the whole engine. As far as fueling and filling the autolube system, you’re able to do it from the ground.”
Davis says he also appreciates fastfill and autolube fastfill on the 6015B. “The autolube system doesn’t have to be filled up every week. You can actually watch your grease level. And it has a built-in hose reel so instead of having a lube truck, you can manually grease the bucket with the machine.”
Safe and comfortable
Operators at O’Neal Quarry agree that the 6015B is a comfortable machine to operate. The cab is pressurized to keep dust out, and the climate control system is fully automatic, allowing for consistent in-cab temperature and operator comfort in any weather conditions. The controls are ergonomic with adjustable joystick console height, independent of the seat, to suit operator preference. And the electro-hydraulic controls provide smooth and precise maneuvering.
Harris enjoys the improved operator environment. “Overall, to me, it’s better for the operator because the cab is bigger. And the controls are very easy. You can operate them with three fingers.”
Riffe also appreciates the controls. “My favorite thing in the cab is the smaller controls. I love the joysticks.”
The cab offers large, wide windows, which provide excellent all-around visibility of the work environment. The 6015B features well-engineered access and egress with walkways for safe movement around the machine and an optional powered access stairway.
A better machine
The new Cat 6015B Hydraulic Shovel is helping O’Neal Quarry achieve its production targets and load more material at a lower cost. And it’s making life easier for the shovel operators.
“It’s a big difference. On a scale of one to 10, coming to this one here, it’s a 10,” says Riffe, who has been operating hydraulic shovels for nearly 30 years. “I like what I’m doing. I love running Cat machines. And I enjoy this machine. You just can’t beat it.”
Harris agreed. “It’s just a better machine overall. How come they didn’t come out with this sooner?”
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