Business Feature, Crushers & Screens, Earthmoving Industry Insight, Machinery News, Screens

Screening is sorted for Country Improvements with the Portafill MR-6

With Porter Group now offering a range of screens, crushers and scalpers from Portafill, we speak with NSW family business Country Improvements, which is putting a new Portafill MR-6 scalping screen through its paces

It was the need for a machinery upgrade that brought together family business Country Improvements and Porter Group recently, with Porter Group delivering its first Portafill MR-6 scalping screen to an Australian client.

Country Improvements, and associated family business Jones Quarries Group, is based in the suburb of Glenorie in northern Sydney, offering a variety of sandstone products.

Operating in the area for nearly 50 years, Country Improvements spans three generations of the Jones family. Earthmovers & Excavators caught up with Dan Jones, who recently established Jones Quarries Group, to discuss how the two businesses have evolved over the years and the arrival of the new Portafill scalper on site.

“My grandparents, Len and Pam, started their company back in the ‘70s in the earthmoving game. Pa would be building dams and carrying out rural property works, whilst Grandma was the backbone of the business, taking care of the office work and the family,” Jones says.

“In the ’80s he then purchased our quarry, which was a shale quarry at the time. Over the years, with shale no longer a hot commodity, sandstone became more viable, so he moved into selling boulders and crushed products over the years.

“More recently, we’ve starting to expand our range of screened and sawn products, to offer a range of building products, aggregates, roadbases, gravel, river pebbles and granite.

“Through the Country Improvements business, we do our own contracting projects that use the materials out of our quarry. We also sell our products to the general public, as well as other contractors and government organisations.”

Servicing the Greater Sydney region, Country Improvements and Jones Quarries Group produce several hundred tonnes of product a day, with a mixed fleet of excavators ranging from five to 110 tonnes, wheel loaders, a grader, D8 dozer, crushers and screens.

“We have pretty much one of everything,” Jones says.

“It’s not a big operation, we’re a small family business, but as we can supply our own products and we have our own equipment, everything is essentially in-house. The fact that we’ve incorporated everything within the business model gives us an advantage.”

Porter Group is now offering a wide range of Portafill products, including this MR-6 scalping screen

New offering from Porter Group

With the Jones family looking to increase its operation’s efficiency and continue to diversify its offering, a new Portafill MR-6 scalper screen was delivered in May.

Based in Northern Ireland, Portafill began back in 1993 with the creation of a trench filling machine. The company has now expanded into offering everything from washing systems to conveyors, screens and crushers.

Country Improvements is the first client to receive an MR-6 scalper from Porter Group, which is offering an extensive range of Portafill screens, crushers and scalpers to its Australian client base.

“Portafill have been pioneers in the compact crushing and screening field and they’re one of the most reputable brands out there,” Porter Group national screening and crushing manager Jimmy Murphy says.

“This is a new thing for us as a business and we’re bringing in a range of crushing and screening gear from 10-tonne to 120-tonne that will meet most clients’ needs.”

Murphy says Portafill equipment is designed to be compact and mobile, suiting small to medium-sized businesses like Country Improvements.

“A scalper screen is a lot more versatile than an incline or a sizing screen as it can handle a wider range of material,” he adds as to why the MR-6 was suggested.

“In the case of this MR-6, it can handle a feed size of up to 300 or 400mm and it’s got an aggressive screen box that can be adjusted by fractions, so we can put it into a wider range of applications than other screens.

“We would offer this for gravel pits, sand and soil yards, compost, bin waste and quarry applications.”

The MR-6 is the largest Portafill scalper being offered by Porter Group, with a 3,900mm x 1,300mm screen box, seven cubic metre heaped hopper volume, a 1,000mm-wide feed conveyor, transfer belt and oversize conveyor, 800mm-wide wing conveyor and 74 horsepower (55kW) Deutz engine.

“Feature-wise, all it’s down to operator ease of maintenance, with the access points being particularly strong,” Murphy says.

“It’s also got a transfer conveyor that can raise and lower the screen box, so it makes adjustments and mesh changes very simple.”

The Jones family have been running the quarry since 1975

MR-6 in action

The versatility and ease of access are highlights for Dan Jones. The day that we spoke with him, the Portafill MR-6 scalper was screening turf underlay from the quarry’s overburden material.

“The overburden is very soily, so we put that through the screener to get a 5mm minus turf underlay,” Jones says.

“On days that we’re screening sandstone, we’ll have the crusher feeding into it or an excavator feeding the screen directly. We crush and screen all particle sizes with it, from sand up to large 150mm rocks for drainage and so forth.

“We have another property that has gravels on it, so in the future we may send it up there to screen that too.”

Jones says it has been the flexibility and ease of use that has stood out.

“The changing of the screens was a big thing for us,” he says.

“We wanted something where it didn’t take hours to change the screens or piano wires inside it.

“That’s been the biggest thing so far. The bottom belt can be moved hydraulically, with just the push of one lever, so somebody can actually fit underneath and get screens out, as well as in the screens when you’re changing from one product to another.”

Depending on the material being worked with, Jones says the business can screen anywhere from 90 to 120 tonnes an hour using the MR-6 – adding it has settled in well on site.

“It’s been going really well. We haven’t put a crazy amount of hours on it yet, but the access to the screens is super and it’s been straightforward to run.”

The MR-6’s ability to screen overfill means nothing goes to waste

Porter Group

“This is the first time we’ve bought something from Porter Group,” Jones says.

“The day that we took delivery of the machine, they sent out a crew of guys to train people, help set the scalper up and make sure everything was running smoothly, which we found to be pretty impressive overall.

“The backup service is also great. Whenever we call up, if they don’t answer immediately, we will get a return call quickly. It’s been fantastic service.”

Jones says that, when working with machinery dealers, the backup service is a key aspect for him and his business.

“We can’t afford to have too much downtime or spend a lot of time having to follow things up and look for things yourself,” he says.

“With Porter, we get an answer straight away. It certainly keeps to help the operation moving along.”

Looking ahead for the rest of the year, Jones says his family will continue to look for ways to increase operational efficiency and output from the quarry. Recycling is a major aspect of this, with Jones Quarries making use of the overburden rather than burying it, as well as the Country Improvements business handling waste bricks and concrete and turning them back into useful products.

“This is where the Portafill is helping – we take as much out of the quarry as we can to make sure that there’s no waste products,” he says.

“We also recycle concrete and tiles, which we turn into aggregates and roadbases. This is another area that we may use the Portafill scalper for.

“Based on the service that Porter has offered so far, and the new loaders that they’re offering, more machinery is something we will definitely look at in the future.”

For more details on equipment available from Porter Group visit

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