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Two Rokbak RA30s for ‘Quarry of the Year’

Gill Mill quarry manager Jeff Murphy
Gill Mill quarry manager Jeff Murphy

Torque, manoeuvrability, and low fuel consumption impress at award-winning Gill Mill Quarry

SMITH & Sons (Bletchington) have added two Rokbak RA30 articulated haulers to their fleet at the award-winning Gill Mill Quarry, in Oxfordshire, where the trucks impressing with their torque, manoeuvrability, and low fuel consumption.

Since October 2022, the two RA30s have shifted nearly 500,000 tonnes of primary ballast between them at the quarry. The Gill Mill aggregate processing plant is the flagship site for Smith & Sons (Bletchington) and was declared ‘Quarry of the Year’ by the British Aggregates Association for its operating standards at the end of 2020.


‘The Rokbaks are integral to our operation insofar as their suitability to the site – they’re not too small and they’re not too big,’ said Gill Mill quarry manager Jeff Murphy. ‘With the constraints that we’ve got on some of the roads, they suit our needs, and we find them efficient and easy to operate. They’re very operator friendly.’

Operations at Gill Mill start at 6.30am with a standard maintenance check on equipment, and run until 5pm, five days a week. Daily checks including damage inspection and fuel level monitoring are conducted from a maintenance sheet.

The RA30 articulated haulers, each with a 28-tonne maximum payload and a 17.5m3 heaped capacity, currently work on load-and-carry operations, dumping material into a hopper, with the material then fed to the main plant through a conveyer system. The distance travelled by each RA30 is approximately one mile per load, with each truck making between 25 and 30 round trips a day.

The two Rokbak RA30s currently work on load-and-carry operations, dumping material into a hopper
The two Rokbak RA30s currently work on load-and-carry operations, dumping material into a hopper

‘We’ve got two dedicated Rokbak dumper operators on site,’ explained Mr Murphy. ‘The feedback we’ve received from them is very positive, with the trucks being very manoeuvrable, easy to operate and very user-friendly.’

Each Rokbak cab has pressurized capabilities and a premium performance HVAC and air-flow system. Clear instrumentation and an LCD display for operational and service feedback, including fuel consumption, is intended for simple operation and service data extraction.

‘My personal pick is the rear-view camera, with a very big, clear screen ideal for all weather conditions, day and night,’ said operator Warren Mobey. ‘If we didn’t have it, it would make things harder for us. Relying on just mirrors is not a way we could probably operate at Gill Mill.

‘However, the mirrors easily defrost in the morning,’ he added. ‘In summertime it’s essential that you have good air-con, which in the Rokbak is excellent. It’s like a whirlwind going at you.’

The two units were purchased from Molson Equipment, one of the UK's largest independent new and used equipment dealers, with a 6,000h fixed-price service contract and a three-year/5,000h powertrain warranty. The trucks arrived following an initial recommendation from another Molson customer, a longstanding supplier of plant and services to Smith & Sons (Bletchington).

‘The positive feedback about our after-sales service and the quality of the Rokbak trucks that customer ran played a big part in creating this partnership,’ explained Dan Guibarra, sales manager for Molson Equipment.

‘Now, at Gill Mill, the durability and build quality of the Rokbak haulers shines through on this well-run site. Smith & Sons feedback has been very positive on the fuel consumption, with a saving of around 7% compared with its previous machines.

‘The versatility of these machines means that Smith & Sons can move them around site. The trucks have the grip and torque to keep operations running smoothly, even during the wet and slippery winter months.’

The RA30 has a maximum torque of 1,880Nm at 1,400 rev/min, which proves particularly useful when operating across difficult ground and provides good traction in wet conditions.

Rokbak regional sales manager EMEA Kenny Price
Rokbak regional sales manager EMEA Kenny Price

‘Torque and rim pull are areas we focus on when it comes to the design of the trucks,’ said Kenny Price, Rokbak regional sales manager EMEA. ‘They need to have that torque and pull when they’re fully loaded to move in an efficient manner.’

‘Beneath our depot is Oxford Blue Clay, which is often utilized for restoration purposes but difficult to traverse,’ added Jeff Murphy. ‘’However, the Rokbak trucks have been fantastic with that great torque when moving through clay. We find them a real benefit.’

Gill Mill Quarry opened in 1989 and has planned reserves until 2035. Lying next to the river Windrush at Ducklington, a village near the West Oxfordshire town of Witney, the 135-acre plant produces a wide range of washed sands and gravels.

The Gill Mill operation extracts around 450,000 tonnes of oolitic limestone sand and gravel per year, with 80% of all sales delivered within 20 miles of the quarry, which has won numerous awards for achievements in sustainable development, restoration, and commitment to biodiversity and nature conservation.

Reducing environmental impact is a key tenet of the Rokbak brand. As part of the Volvo Group, Rokbak are aligned to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for significant improvements to carbon emissions, with specific aims including a 30% reduction in CO2 by 2030, a 50% factory operations emission reduction by the same year, and becoming net zero by 2040.

These commitments have influenced the design of the Rokbak trucks, the daily operation of the company’s Motherwell factory, and the Rokbak sustainability roadmap. Reducing the company’s impact on the environment has seen Rokbak employ strategies stemming from fuel consumption analysis, examining alternative fuels, extending maintenance cycles, and lessening maintenance consumables. This has also led to a reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO) for Rokbak customers.


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