Equipment focus: Volvo CE L120H wheel loader

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

The first Volvo Construction Equipment H-series wheel loaders to land in New Zealand have started work at quarries owned by sand and aggregates producer Road Metals.

Equipment focus: Volvo CE L120H wheel loader
Road Metals' Volvo CE L120H wheel loader.

The Christchurch-based company bought its first BM 4400 wheel loader in 1979, and now owns a fleet of 53 Volvo CE wheel loaders, excavators and articulated haulers that operate across the country’s South Island.

The 20-tonne L120 wheel loader makes up the largest proportion of the fleet.

"The L120 is the perfect fit for our operation in terms of size, bucket size, speed and ease of transport," Road Metals managing director Murray Francis says. "When the first L120 launched in 1994, I went to Volvo CE’s factory in Sweden to see where the machines were built and see a live demonstration.

"I was impressed with the professionalism of the staff and the manufacturing process. That year, we purchased a B-series model – and since then we’ve been the first company in New Zealand to take delivery of the L120C, the L120D, the L120E the L120F and, most recently, the L120H."

Volvo says the new H-series earthmovers have an all-Volvo D8J Tier 4 final engine and powertrain plus a variety of technologies designed to enhance safety and fuel economy.

Chief among these are: OptiShift technology that aims to lower fuel consumption by up to 18 percent; Reverse By Braking (RBB) technology slows the loader when the operator wants to change direction by sensing its direction and automatically reducing engine rpm and applying the service brakes; and an Eco pedal that applies mechanical push-back force when the accelerator is used excessively and engine rpm is about to exceed the economic operating range.

The Volvos’ comfortable cab and ride have been instrumental in keeping Road Metals’ machine operators happy, Francis says, and also influenced the company’s decision to stay with the brand.

"We are very proud that many of our operators who were using the B-series loaders are still with us today," he says. "The operators love Volvos."

Road Metals mobile crushing manager Don Parker says he started operating an L120C in 1995 and was given two weeks to try it out.

"If I didn’t like it, the loader was going to be returned, but instead I ended up doing 10,000 hours in it," he says. "It was very comfortable and quiet, great to operate and good visibility."

The company owns a variety of heavy machinery, producing a wide variety of sand and aggregate products using mobile jaw, cone, impact and Barmac crushers, aggregate wash plants, sand watering plants and multi-deck screening plants. The heaviest loads are shifted using Volvo CE excavators, such as the EC300DL, and transported with a fleet of Volvo CE articulated haulers, including A40Ds.

Its fleet of 33 Volvo CE wheel loaders includes L250Gs, L180Gs, L150Gs and older generations of the L120.

Volvo CE equipment is distributed in New Zealand by TransDiesel and in Australia by CJD Equipment.

Click here to find Volvo wheel loaders for sale.

Click here to look up Volvo CE wheel loader specifications.


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