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Collins goes large to speed Mercia Park progress

Digger Blogger | 08:00, Thu August 20 2020

Derbyshire-based Collins Earthworks has taken delivery of the UK’s first Volvo EC950F – the largest excavator in the Volvo Construction Equipment range.

Weighing 104 tonnes in mass excavation trim, this heavyweight has gone to work at the Mercia Park project by junction 11 of the M42 in Leicestershire, along with a fleet of nine 60-tonne capacity A60H articulated dump trucks, four A40s and three A30s.

This 238-acre development site comprises one million cubes of cut and fill, with a 300,000-tonne top-soil strip in a project scheduled to last 27 weeks.

“The EC950F has been on our radar for some time,” says Collins Earthworks contracts manager Wayne Naylor. “We’ve enjoyed great productivity with our fleet of EC750s on previous projects, but the EC950 has now raised our performance another notch – or maybe two.”

The introduction of the EC950F at Mercia Park, alongside three EC750s and two EC700s, has enabled the Collins Earthworks team to hit a weekly target of 100,000 cubes of material moved by week two of the project.

The 16 trucks on the job is a third fewer than previously used during the similar East Midlands Gateway (EMG) project.

“This means fewer operators, fewer pieces of equipment and more material moved,” adds Wayne Naylor. “The efficiency gain is impressive, and we’re now looking to bring the earthmoving project to a close in fewer than 27 weeks. It’s unlikely this will be our last EC950.”

He says that it is all about better matching of larger equipment. “The EC950F’s 6.75 cubic metre bucket lets us fill an A60H in just four passes. When we were loading A60Hs at EMG with an EC750, it took five to six passes to move the same amount of material. And the EC950’s four passes are taking place in 45-50 seconds, generating consistent payloads of 60-62 tonnes,” he says.

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For Collins’ muck-shifting requirements, the EC950F is equipped with a 7.25-metre boom with boom float, and a 2.95-metre mass excavation arm. The mass excavation configuration also means a bigger bucket cylinder to generate more breakout – typically 43 tonnes-force of bucket tearout. The 6.75 cubic metre bucket gets floating pins that are sealed for life, while an auto-lube system takes care of the machine’s main points.

At the back end is a 14.5-tonne hydraulically removable counterweight, for which Collins Earthworks has built a cradle for one of its low-loader trailers, allowing the excavator to reverse up to the truck, and lower the weight directly into its transport cradle.

The machine’s undercarriage is adjustable too, from a 3.55-metres working width to a 2.79-metre transport width.

Operator Mark Oakley seems happy. “Having spent thousands of hours on an EC750, I can’t believe the speed and power of the EC950F,” he says. “The 750 was a good muck-shifter, but this is on another level. I didn’t expect such a big, heavy machine to feel this agile and this nimble. The overall machine balance is impressive, and it is so stable that I believe it could comfortably handle a bigger bucket on this material.”




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