Allen Briegel is plant manager of Dyno-Noble Inc., an international mining services company, at its Gillette, Wyo., facility.
When it came time to replace his old Bobcat skid steer, he purchased a 56-hp (41.8 kW) turbocharged Bobcat S185 skid steer loader with a 1,850-lb. (839 kg) rated operating capacity. Its primary use is to stem bore holes at surface coal mines.
The 9-in. (22.9 cm) diameter holes are bored 20 to 70 ft. (6 to 21 m) deep into a coal seam or overburden for explosives, which are placed at the bottom. Cuttings from the drilling process, which ring the hole, are then pushed back in to force the energy of the blast down and to the sides when the explosives are ignited. This breaks up the material for easier removal by large front-end loaders, shovels or draglines.
“Typically, we stem the bore with about 15 to 20 feet of material,” Briegel said. “We may stem 80 or more holes a day.”
At one time, backfilling the holes was done by hand. The S185 and bucket offers an easier, safer and faster alternative.
“In the past, we could get by with one or two guys using hand shovels,” he said. “But with the increased production demands these days, they couldn’t keep up. Besides, our workforce is getting older and the S185 helps prevent the back injuries involved with hand labor.”
The S185’s enclosed, air conditioned and heated cab keeps the operators clean and comfortable, especially when working in the searing summer heat and the bitter winter cold of northeastern Wyoming.
The renowned reliability of Bobcat equipment was another reason Briegel chose the S185.
“We go out in the morning, do our walk-around inspection, check the oil and filters, start it up and we’re good to go for the rest of the day.”
The S185 also has proved useful for other jobs, such as filling in low spots in parking lots or placing rock around newly installed coal storage towers.
“We use our S185 any time we need to move rock or dirt,” Briegel said. “It’s very handy. Sometimes we run it all day long.”
This article was reprinted with permission from Bobcat WorkSaver magazine.