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Much More Than Earthmovers

Earthline switch to Komatsu for their expanding recycling operations

Wiltshire-based Earthline recognize the importance of plant and machinery to the success of their operation. Having originally specialized in earthmoving when Rod Coplestone set up the company in the early 1980s, Earthline have expanded to incorporate recycling, landfill and quarrying, extending their range of equipment along the way.

The company remains a family concern with Rod’s sons, Phillip and Matthew, joining him in the business as directors. Now with 109 employees operating across sites in Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire, plant is one of the most important factors within the business and Earthline have recently made the decision to switch to Komatsu for their excavator, bulldozer and wheel loader requirements.

Shellingford Quarry

Earthline’s 80-acre quarry in Shellingford, acquired as part of the purchase of aggregates company Multi-Agg in 2002, is typical of their approach. The site is a mix of recycled material, natural sand (primarily from the adjacent Hatford Sand Quarry) and soft limestone. Having been quarried for some 14 years, at greater depths Hatford also provides MoT-grade hard limestone for use in road construction. 

The recycling element of the business is certainly one of the growth areas, particularly in light of the aggregates levy. Shellingford takes in large quantities of material each week — a mix of concrete- and soil-based waste. The former is put through one of the quarry’s 10 screening plants and one of two direct washing plants, while the soil-based material is washed, with the resulting recycled aggregates produced to a wide range of different specifications for use in a variety of construction applications.

With the quarry being handed back to the landowner on a ‘cell-by-cell’ basis, Komatsu D65PX-15 bulldozers fill in and level the exhausted areas of the quarry to return the cells for agricultural use. Earthline are currently operating four D65PX dozers at their sites, with the drivers benefiting from Komatsu’s ‘Spacecab’ concept, with its hexagonal design providing a spacious interior and excellent visibility.

Earthline also have four Komatsu excavators — a PC450LC-7 and three PC340LC-7s — all of which are used in quarrying and loading applications across the company’s sites. 

Completing the Komatsu line-up at present are two WA470-5 wheel loaders, with another currently on order. Tony Scott has been driving wheel loaders for Earthline for five years and has experience in a number of different machines.  He sees significant benefits in moving to Komatsu: ‘The suspension is excellent. It’s a very comfortable drive and the 4.5-tonne capacity bucket certainly speeds up loading.’ The wheel loaders are used to load Earthline’s fleet of 44 Scania and DAF tippers (a mix of eight-, six- and four-wheelers), alongside four articulated units (a 150-tonne and three 80-tonne trucks) that are also run by the company.

Replacement policy

Earthline operate a policy of replacing their plant on a three-yearly cycle (five years for the bulldozers) so residual values are important. Paul Carpenter, general manager, commented: ‘It is not just the original price of the equipment that is important to us. We needed to have a supplier that was prepared to do sensible deals on used equipment, backed by good warranty packages with a sales representative that understands our business, and Marubeni-Komatsu met this criteria on all counts.’

As in all plant equipment, there is an increasing focus on fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Both are significantly reduced in all the new Komatsu machines operated by Earthline, thanks to the highly efficient ECOT3 engine that meets EU Stage IIIA emissions regulations, a full year ahead of European legislation. 
Reasons for change

The fuel consumption is a benefit already recognized by Earthline director Phillip Coplestone, who commented: ‘The fuel economy from the Komatsu machines is at least 15% better on the shovels, loaders and large excavators. We had a number of Komatsu machines on test when we were looking to change our plant supplier and every one performed well. We had the dozers first and were particularly impressed by the spacious cab – important to the operators who spend so much time in them. For us it is vital that the plant representative we deal with understands the business. David Hanley, our representative from Marubeni-Komatsu was knowledgeable, straight talking and very easy to deal with — exactly what we were looking for. The service back up has also been excellent so far.

‘We have bought some £1.4 million of Komatsu machines since Christmas and have used the Komatsu Finance Package, which has been very easy. It allows us to do the next deal on the back of the previous one, with everything already set up.’  


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