It says a lot about Elphinstone’s reputation when a dealer halfway around the world orders its machines off the plan.
But that’s exactly what happened when Toromont (Authorised Caterpillar and Elphinstone Dealer) in Ontario, Canada, learned about Elphinstone’s WR810 Tier 4 Underground Support Vehicles.
Toromont secured two of these brand-new machines – one with a flat deck and crane, the other with water sprays and water cannon – for its dealership in Sudbury, Ontario, and they have just been delivered. A third WR810 will be on its way next year.
Designed and manufactured in Burnie, the WR810 is a highly configurable, 10-tonne nominal base platform, comprising a scissor-lift, agitator (6m3), fuel and lube truck, delivery with crane and innovative water cannon.
“This is a machine built to thrive in the harshest underground hard-rock mining environments,” says Larry Widdifield, Sales & Product Support Representative for Elphinstone in North America. “In terms of operator comfort, speed and productivity, the WR810 is hard to beat.”
A 30-year relationship
Among Ontario’s mining community, the Elphinstone name has long been synonymous with quality and innovation. This eastern region is the site of some of the world’s most productive mines, containing vast quantities of nickel, platinum and palladium, and Elphinstone machines have been underground here since 1990.
Larry was involved right from the start, and has some fascinating tales about the early days of the North American business.
“I was working for a company called Crothers – which was later bought by Toromont – when we heard about Elphinstone’s products, and flew to Tasmania to see them,” recalls Larry. “Bob Calvert, and one of the dealers took us out to one of the mines and said, ‘Here, have fun, I’ll see you at the end of the shift,’ and just kinda dumped us there. But we were in great hands, because the customer just loved his machine, and we ordered one.”
That machine – an R1500 loader, serial number 106 – marked the start of Elphinstone’s incursion into Canada, and the beginning of Larry’s relationship with Elphinstone. A year later, he’d left Toromont to become Elphinstone’s first employee for Canada, the US and Mexico.
“Dale gave me a credit card and said, ‘I hope you like travelling – I want you to see what you can do to start the business here.’ Pretty soon, we were delivering 100 machines a year across North America.”
Leading on productivity
Elphinstone’s success came from the quality of its loaders and the company’s ability to address customer requirements with good solutions, says Larry.
“One of the key factors was machine productivity,” he says. “We were faster and more reliable than anybody, and we prioritised operator comfort in our cabs – they were so comfortable, operators were eating their lunch in there instead of going to the lunch room. Managers couldn’t believe the uptake of acceptance by the operators.”
Larry predicts that the WR810 will be just as popular with operators and owners. The operator station is designed to seat three people in comfort with exceptional visibility, which is ideal for training purposes as well as allowing the complete crew to travel collectively, rather than deploying an additional light vehicle for personnel transport.
Meanwhile, the oscillating hitch provides superior operator comfort, four-wheel ground contact and reduced wear on the hitch and steering components.
WR810 Tier 4 Water Cannon
In terms of functionality, the WR810 Tier 4 Water Cannon is a dual application machine, providing both production and support capabilities. “It’s pretty unique,” says Larry.
As a production machine, the water cannon uses high pressure water to blast and wash valuable ore fines from difficult to access areas of the mine. A wireless controller and base station allows the operator to position the 8m telescopic boom for high-pressure blasting of material blockages from a safe remote location.
As a support machine, the high pressure water cannon is used to unblock open stopes by blasting the fines and smaller rocks away, and dislodging the remaining material. Water Spray valves mounted at the rear and sides of the tank suppress dust from the haul roads improving the operating conditions and resulting in improved health and safety.
WR810 Tier 4 Delivery with crane
With a payload of 11,130 kilograms, the WR810 Delivery with crane ensures parts, components and maintenance personnel are transported safely throughout the mine.
The fully integrated Hiab X-HiDuo 092 ‘optimal performance’ loader crane features a rated lifting capacity of 8.8 tonne metre (TM) and a 7.7-metre outreach, providing a reliable solution for day-to-day heavy lifting.
“Our plan is to have these machines in operation in early 2022,” says Larry, adding that there’s already considerable customer interest in these new assets. “The market over here is huge and once these machines get rolling I can see considerable demand for them.”