Case excavator at work in the marble quarries of Italy
Botticino marble is one of Italy’s outstanding resources and renowned worldwide. The La Scala Theatre in Milano, Grand Central Station in New York, the Altare della Patria in Roma, Harrods department store in London and the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, are just a few of the world’s famous landmark buildings that incorporate Botticino Classico Marble (Marmo Botticino Classico). The history of the use of this precious stone (formed between some 190 and 60 million years ago) began with the ancient Romans in the mountains east of Brescia.
It was between these mountains and more precisely in the municipality of Botticino Mattina, where the Valverde Co-operative is located. The Co-operative comprises 36 partners specializing in the sector of production, extraction and transformation of Botticino Classico Marble.
The Valverde Co-operative operates a concession in a quarry located in the centre of the production of the prized stone. It extends over 35,000m2 and produces in excess of 30,000 tonnes of marble annually. From the quarry to the worksite, Valverde transforms the rough stone into polished slabs using processing techniques that are a combination of the latest industrial techniques and timeless craftsmanship.
Maurizio Fraboni, purchasing manager at the cooperative in Brescia, commented: ‘We enjoy our work, that’s why we give it everything we’ve got. We don’t just sell blocks of marble, we sell Botticino Classico, finished and transformed. We have also created a mark of origin that certifies the physical and technical characteristics of the material, typically found only in the stone extracted in the municipality of Botticino. The mark is a guarantee of the quality found in the local production, and of the work process that respects the unique and inimitable characteristics of this marble.’
Fraboni goes on to explain how Valverde, together with two other local companies, conceived the ‘Marbo’ project for enhancing the on-site processing of Botticino Classico Marble, promoting the brand and reducing the environmental impact of the operations related to processing. The unparalleled merit of the ‘Marbo’ project was also officially recognized by the region of Lombardy, awarding it the Ergon Prize for co-operation among enterprises.
The Co-operative works on a commission basis for architects and designers worldwide. To meet its ongoing commitments, it recently purchased a new excavator from Case, the CX470C. This machine joined Valverde Co-operative’s existing fleet of six tracked excavators and three tracked loaders.
‘We needed an excavator that is safe, robust and stable as we carry a lot of loads on steep slopes,’ Maurizio Fraboni said. ‘We were also looking for an excavator with optimum visibility, since visibility means safety, especially in our mountains.’
According to Case, excellent visibility is one of the main features of the cab on the CX470C excavator. It features narrower crossbars that leave more space for the broad windscreen and four side mirrors, in addition to a camera monitor for rear-view vision, and a second standard side camera monitor linked to a large colour monitor installed in the cab. The monitor also provides an on-board diagnostic service that allows the operator to pre-programme the power, and the carrying capacity of the auxiliary hydraulic circuit, to a maximum of 10 settings, thereby enhancing productivity.
The dimensions of the CX470C excavator make it suitable for use in the Botticino quarries, as the excavators must be able to move about easily in tight spaces, as well as being powerful and robust enough to handle heavy-duty tasks.
The Valverde Co-operative is also developing a policy for reducing the environmental impact resulting from their processes, preferring the Case excavator over the equipment offered by competitors because of its low noise and exhaust emissions.
The Maren-CMO dealer in di Curno-Treviolo, Bergamo, who is a long-time supplier to the Valverde Co-operative, helped the co-operative in selecting the most suitable vehicle.
Paolo Entrade, in charge of the Maren-CMO dealership together with his brother Marco, commented: ‘We provide our clients with support step-by-step during the purchasing decision process, so they find the vehicle best suited to their requirements. In this case, the CX470C excavator purchased by Valverde was equipped with track rollers with two ribs for ensuring greater friction when approaching the sharp slopes found in the quarry. The arm barely measures 2.9m, shorter than the standard arm, to provide a better grip when moving blocks of marble. It is also better adapted to the confined spaces of the working areas.’
The operators working inside the Brescia quarry are quick to point out that the machine is stable, very well balanced and capable of lifting up to 27 tonnes.
Explosives are used to open the formation, a portion of rock isolated from the mountain, for cultivation of the quarry. The single blocks are stacked one after the other by using diamond wire and then transported by the excavators to the work areas for the subsequent phase of squaring of the blocks. Finally, the blocks are transferred into the storage areas, where they continue their journey to the processing site on trucks.
The CX470C is successfully used in various operations: ground work, handling blocks detached from the mountain by explosives, and keeping the work area tidy.
‘Prior to purchasing, Maren-CMO offered to let us try it for a while so we could test the stability of the unit, and its ability to get over any slope effortlessly,’ said Maurizio Fraboni. ‘Our co-operative only purchases new units if our operators give us their vote of confidence for the machines. They need to feel secure about the units that they are asked to operate and the CX470C excavator offers the technology, the robustness and the stability necessary to put our extraction operators totally at ease.
‘The dealer relationship was a significant factor in the decision to purchase. The relationship with Maren-CMO is one of total and absolute trust. The dealership, which is a family-owned business, has a great understanding of the problems of working in these type of sites. That’s why they can offer tailor made solutions, and provide support in selecting the most suitable equipment. Not only that, they provide reliable service when you need it.’
In order to ensure that the machines are always operational and productive for their customers, Maren have specialized technicians and 15 equipped trucks, on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With this team, Maren are able to respond to any request and rapidly solve any emergency.