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Mon March 19, 2018 - Northeast Edition #6
Located near the Appalachian Mountains and a national forest, Boxley Materials Company's Rich Patch Quarry in Covington, Va., is a little more picturesque than a typical limestone quarry.
“We live and work in a beautiful part of the country here,” said Steve Robertson, superintendent at Boxley Materials Company's Rich Patch Quarry. “The quarry is very close to George Washington National Forest. I tell people in the company that I've got the office with the best view!”
Established in 1892, Boxley Materials Company, a division of Summit Materials, purchased its first quarry 58 miles west of Roanoke, Va., in 1908. Today, the company operates several sites selling aggregate, asphalt and paving services, hardscapes and concrete throughout Roanoke and Lynchburg, Va. The company acquired Rich Patch Quarry from Vulcan Materials Company in 2002.
The newest addition to the Rich Patch Quarry site is a ZX350LC-6, and it's Boxley Materials' primary workhorse, transforming massive limestone rocks into a crusher-friendly size.
“We're pulling limestone out and producing anywhere from 25,000-35,000 tons a month through the crusher,” Robertson said. “We're operating and crushing nine months a year so we keep a rock breaker on the Hitachi 350 for 90 percent of the time. The material we have here is very blocky and we wind up with a lot of big rock. There's just no way to shoot it to get it down to crusher size so we use the Hitachi.”
The ZX350LC-6 keeps the quarry crushing eight hours a day.
“We've got a jaw crusher, two impact crushers and two screens making six products: crusher run, #57, #8, #9, lime and sand,” Robertson said. “The products that we make are being used in concrete, asphalt and road bases.“
While crushing is the norm, Boxley Materials also adjusts its operations as needed, for example, to help with the aftermath of Mother Nature's wrath.
“In June 2016, we had a 500-year flood just to the west of us,” Robertson said. “The flood washed a railroad out and we worked 12- to 14-hour days shipping material to get that up and running. We sent a lot of Class III rock, which is 500 lbs. and bigger!”
Although quarry production runs for only nine months, Boxley Materials keeps its ZX350LC-6 working year-round. The machine is equipped with a quick coupler so operators can easily switch from the breaker to a bucket for other applications.
“In the winter months when it's cold up here in the mountains, we try to do our stripping and overburden removal,” Robertson said. “So we'll use the Hitachi with a bucket to take care of it.”
As a lifelong heavy equipment fan, Robertson is a hands-on superintendent and enjoys operating the Hitachi excavator. He admitted the new machine took a little getting used to.
“The hydraulics on the 350 are a little bit faster than what I was operating before,” he said. “It took me a week or two to get used to them, and now I like them. No going back now!”
Boxley Materials has owned and operated Hitachi equipment since 1996 — starting with an EX700 shovel — and continues to add to its fleet.
“The reason we continue to use Hitachi equipment is that they're cost-effective,” Robertson said. “The Hitachi 350 for us has been fuel-efficient. Serviceability has been great. It seems to be very smooth operating.”
Even the local wildlife seems to be fans of the new excavator at the quarry.
“We're in bear country and we found a footprint on the Hitachi where a bear crawled up on it!” Robertson laughed. “I guess he was curious and wanted to check it out.”
Along with reliable equipment, Robertson said the company appreciates its dependable dealer support as well.
“Any time we need service, James River Equipment is spot on,” he said. “We're very pleased with the service we're getting from them. Parts and service are a big part of why we buy Hitachi.”
As for Robertson, he continues to enjoy his office view — and the equipment.
“I love this work,” he said. “I get to run equipment every day, and not all superintendents get to do that!”
When it came to ordering its ZX350LC-6, Boxley Materials got the opportunity to see its new excavator fresh off the production line at a Gold Key event held at Deere-Hitachi Construction Machinery Corp. in Kernersville, N.C.
Each Hitachi excavator produced at the Kernersville facility is built with pride, made to order and available for customization. Customers are invited to the facility to experience their machines firsthand through Gold Key Events.
The Boxley Materials team met with Deere-Hitachi management and toured the facility for a behind-the-scenes look at the heart of their machine and the hands that crafted it.
“I was extremely impressed with how clean the facility was,” Robertson said. “I was also impressed with the process that if a weld didn't meet the standard, the employee who welded it was required to come down to the inspection point to repair it. It was really cool, too, that I was allowed to tram the machine off the assembly line.”
(This story was reprinted with permission from Hitachi's BREAKOUT magazine, Spring issue, 2018.)
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