Porter Press Extra: Dolan Civil

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Randall Johnston

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Excavators

[SPONSORED CONTENT] Darwin’s Dolan Civil possibly has one of the largest fleets of wheeled excavators in the business. Certainly in the Northern Territory anyway, where the often harsh working environments can test both man and machine.

The Hyundai 140W-9 with rockbreaker

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In business in the region since 2014, and with over 20 years’ experience in the civil industry, Kenneth Dolan and his company, Dolan Civil, undertakes a variety of contracting tasks including large scale and final trim earthworks, trenching, site excavations, road construction and a multitude of concrete work too, such as culvert formation, commercial pad building and footpath construction.

Dolan says diversity of service is key in a place like Darwin. And it’s certainly a place that provides diverse geographical and weather-related challenges too.

"Every job site is different up here and they all present their unique challenges, whether it be location, road conditions or which season we’re in," he says.

The 170W-9 wheeled excavator

"But I think it’s fair to say we have established a very good, solid client base and a reputation for getting quality work done quickly over the last five years."

Dolan Civil is currently working on three sizable work sites; each in very different settings. The wider team – which also incorporates Dolan’s brothers, Conor and Bob – are involved in a construction project in the Darwin CBD, another in the town of Tindal, around three hours’ drive south of Darwin in the Katherine area, and a third in the remote settlement of Wadeye. That last job site is a massive 10-hour haul from base, out towards the rugged northwest sea coast of the Northern Territory.

Wheels instead of tracks opens up the ability to use more attachments

Tough conditions

With both high temperatures and big wet spells a part of everyday life in the tropics at the top of the country, the mobile plant Dolan and his team utilise has to be robust and easily serviceable too. It also needs to offer good ventilation to the operators, so as to mitigate fatigue under the hot Northern Territory sun.

Dolan’s fleet features a fair few Hyundai machines, supplied and supported by Porter Equipment. If you know Dolan, then that’ll come as no surprise: he has been working with Hyundai equipment for the last 15 years now and first recognised the value of the brand when working in his home country of Ireland, where he says he had great service and support too.

The key difference between what you might see in other yards versus the Dolan Civil depot, though, is that all of the excavators on hand are of the wheeled variety; or ‘rubber ducks’ as Dolan calls them. In all, he has purchased six of them from Porter Equipment since Dolan Civil was established, ranging from the Hyundai R140W-9 to the Hyundai R170W-9.


"The biggest benefit they offer us is their mobility. Whether you’re travelling around a closed job site, or working on the roadside, you can get around the place a lot more quickly than a tracked digger can. This saved time adds up over the course of a project and it means we can accomplish various milestones that much quicker.

"The other big advantage with having wheels instead of tracks is that it opens up more opportunity to use attachments to really speed up the efficiency of how we work. We have a range of attachments we’re constantly using, such as palletforks, rockbreakers, hydraulic compaction plates, bucket brooms and grabs; I reckon the rubber ducks are the most versatile machines on any job site we’re working on."

Dolan’s Hyundai R140W-9 wheeled excavators have an operating weight of just under 14-ton, offering a good mix of grunt from the powerful and reliable Tier 3/EU Stage IIIa-compliant Cummins turbo diesel, as well as heavy-duty drive lines, axles and frames, all within a relatively compact footprint; as useful for roadside operations as in a busy worksite.

The Dolan brothers are proud of the work they do and the machines they use, which can stand up to the difficult NT conditions

Hyundai’s automatic cruise control system means operators can ‘creep’ at a set speed when undertaking more finessed work, which also helps with machine stability during tasks. Or the driver can utilise the wheeled set-up to travel from one location to the next at a faster rate.

The Hyundai R170W-9 features an operating weight of 18.5-ton with the optional outriggers and rear blade fitted. The larger machine offers the Dolan Civil team more power and a larger bucket capacity, but – like its 14-ton siblings in the Hyundai wheeled excavator range – arrives on-site with plenty of built-in systems designed to protect the machine and those around it.

These include features such as an automatic park brake, automatic engine overheat prevention and an anti-restart function. Hyundai excavators are also well-known for their clever panel access designs for easier servicing and anti-slip surfaces on their superstructures.

Tough enough to handle heavy duty work

Both models benefit from Hyundai’s extensive overhaul of the cab design for all 9-series machines. Thanks to stronger-yet-slimmer tubing in the cab frame, every Hyundai excavator cab offers drivers a roomy interior with plenty of outward vision and consistently good airflow from that all-important climate control system.

"It’s either very hot, or very humid; there isn’t much in between up here, so good A/C is a very necessary function on any closed-in machine we’re running. You need good ventilation to avoid ‘Mango Madness’ as the locals call weird heat-related behaviour," says Dolan.

Two of Dolan Civil’s rubber ducks are fitted with the latest in GPS technology. Dolan has opted for Trimble Earthworks’ 3D system which he says offers his operators a huge advantage when carrying out bulk and detailed earthworks.


"The GPS system completely removes the delay of setting out and level checking. It gives the operators a far better insight to the works on-site and it’s nice to have this option available for our clients. They know we are investing in good gear and good technology."

Looking after machinery components in such an environment is also crucial. That’s where the service offering of Hyundai distributor, Porter Equipment, comes into play.

"Compared with operators in other regions, we definitely go through components with more frequency in the Northern Territory."

Dolan says his machines have to be serviced more regularly, but all scheduled servicing is organised with Porter Equipment around machine movements and tasks.


"We’re changing oil more regularly because the machine oil burns much hotter here. We’re also changing air filters more frequently too, because dust is a big factor when we’re working beyond the city centre, especially in the dry season.

"The Porter guys come to us when we need them to. They provide a really good back-up service.

"We really couldn’t rely on the machines in the way we do without the dedicated support of guys like Darren Ralph and Garth Meineke from Porter Equipment. They are always at the other end of the phone when we need them.

"And the rubber ducks themselves make construction tasks fast and simple to complete. When you’re dealing with differing weather conditions and big distances between projects, making everything tick over as efficiently as possible is crucial to the bottom line."


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