Case Study: Floating excavator and Telebelt clear the way

By: Ron Horner

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

How the clever use of a floating excavator and a Telebelt telescopic conveyor boom made a Gold Coast canal excavation job both efficient and cost effective.

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The old days of excavators with chain drive motors, no quick hitch, no radio and definitely no air conditioning are thankfully long gone.

Today we’re seeing the earthmoving industry driven by new ideas and technologies far surpassing anything we could have imagined just a few years ago, let alone a generation back.

A bit of lateral thinking led to an interesting approach to a very difficult job on a canal subdivision located on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Queensland-based Floating Excavators was commissioned to extract a 1000-cubic-metre sandbar which had developed over a 100m-long section in the middle of a canal at Broadbeach.

The sandbar, which lay in 2.5 meters of water, reduced the water cover to a mere 800mm at low tide — not good news for boats.

Access to the material was an issue as the embankments had all been landscaped and rock faced, the batters had all been grassed or turfed and they were very sensitive to any environmental damage.

After sourcing an access point to the canal from another location and affecting the appropriate environmental controls, the Heking floating excavator was able to float through the waterways to the affected area.

By double-handling the material from the sandbar to create a reasonably solid base to work from and then handling the material multiple times closer to the shoreline, they were able to create a new island within the confines of the waterway without causing any damage to the landscaped embankments.


The Heking HK150SD floating excavator perched on the island it made.


But with a four-day working window an efficient and cost-effective plan to remove the sand from the island had to be urgently found and implemented.

A quick phone call to Graeme Cooney from Mobile Conveying Services on the Sunshine Coast provided the answer — a mobile truck-mounted conveyor with a Telebelt telescopic conveyor boom.

Cooney had the equipment on site and ready to execute within a day, during which time Floating Excavators completed the sand bar excavation from the middle of the canal and placed the materials in close proximity for the conveyor to access.

The MCS crew extended the 30m boom onto the island where the Heking excavator was positioned. By reversing the conveyor direction the material was loaded into a hopper located at the end of the belt feed and transported up and over the landscaped embankments and discharged into waiting 25-tonne Volvo articulated dump trucks for onsite relocation.

A point worthy of note is that this material was moved in a one-stop operation from this point — from the bottom of the canal, into the hopper, 36m along the conveyor and into the Volvo artics.

Total distance travelled for the material was almost 50m in six seconds at an elevation of 15m. This was a very cost effective and extremely efficient operation, to say the least.

This particular conveyor has the capabilities to discharge over 1000 cubic metres in a shift (subject to loading/removal) and is only one of many types of mobile conveyors and Telebelts available from the boys from the Sunshine Coast.

The US-made Putzmeister Telebelt is a telescopic belt conveyor which is mounted on a truck, carrier, trailer or tower. It has independent slewing feed and discharge conveyors, which provide great flexibility.

Most are mounted on trucks as they provide fast mobilisation and demobilisation of short-term projects. Mobile Conveying Services has in its fleet a five-axle crane carrier mounted Telebelt capable of reaching 61m and suitable for projects requiring high volumes of material to be placed at long reach.

A Telebelt can handle most bulk materials such as sand, soil, bark, landscape mixes, drainage gravel and much more. Bulk minerals can be handled for applications such as ship loading or stockpiling all the way down to small rocks such as those filling Gabion Baskets.

A Telebelt can be used to handle concrete, particularly difficult mixes that cannot be handled with a concrete pump. It can also be used for bulk concrete pours where large volumes need to be handled quickly and where reliability is critical.

The Telebelt depends on continuous motion of a conveyor belt and can move very large volumes of materials quickly in comparison to the cyclical operations of a wheel loader or a dump truck shuttling back and forth.

Minimal damage to the environment is also a bonus as the requirement for the Telebelt to access the site is a firm footing to set the support legs and a solid access track to the set up point. 


Ron Horner with Mobile Conveying Service’s truck-mounted Putzmeister Telebelt.


Mobile Conveying Services has an extensive fleet of conveyor systems in stock for hire to the mining, construction, pipeline, marine and government sectors. The boys are always prepared to look outside of the box — as they have on this occasion — and have a proven track record as long as your arm.

This Gold Coast canal project showed the efficiencies achieved when two competent contractors work together to offer a cost effective solution to a difficult, seemingly costly exercise.

The four-day window of opportunity and the budget set aside for this project worked in the client’s favour and, once again, proved that in this industry we must not become tunnel-visioned or blinkered.

In this day and age, successful contractors should always be aware of what other sectors of the industry have on offer and communicate with them.

After witnessing this very professionally executed, cost-effective and efficient job on the Gold Coast I can visualise both Floating Excavators and Mobile Conveying Services working together on many similar projects for a long while yet.

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