Putting in the groundwork with Wirtgen

Roadwork Industries has purchased one of the new Wirtgen WR240 soil stabilisers for work on a plane storage facility expansion project in Alice Springs. The machine was chosen by the company for its strength and reliability, given the remote nature of the works.

In February 2020, the Northern Territory Government announced it would provide $1 million under the Local Jobs Fund to create more jobs at the Alice Springs Asia Pacific Airport Storage and Maintenance Facility.

This investment was set to see the expansion of the facility to increase storage capacity from 20 to 50 aircraft. Then the full effects of COVID-19 spread across the globe.

With international travel at reduced levels like never seen before the demand for aircraft storage became sky high.

To keep up with such demand the Territory Government invested a further $3.5 million to the Alice Springs Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) Maintenance Facility, with a $3 million concessional loan and a $500,000 grant.

These funds were matched by the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage Group, allowing the storage facility to increase capacity to 200+ aircraft. Stages 2 and 3 have already been completed, with Stage 4 due for completion by mid-December 2020.

The company has also significantly expanded its workforce to employ nearly 100 staff in Alice Springs to support the aircraft maintenance demands for aircraft in storage.

To prepare the ground for some of the worlds heaviest transport machinery, major stabilisation works were required.

New South Wales based company Roadwork Industries are participating in the stabilisation works at the site, which require gravel pavement and a three-coat bitumen seal to create the aircraft pads.

Brian Crowe, Managing Director of Roadwork Industries says the temperature and remote location of Alice Springs means access to water can be challenging.

“When you’re preparing subgrade you would normally blade mix the soil with a grader but because water can be costly in remote locations, we bought the Wirtgen WR240 to mix and moisture condition the subgrade,” Crowe says.

The first stage of the APAS storage facility was constructed around eight years ago, before which aircraft storage services were largely undertaken in America.

“We did Stage one eight years ago and since the pandemic we are now up to nearly finishing Stage four, we’ve done Stages 1, 2A and 2B, 3 and we are now onto Stage four which is expected to be finished by Christmas 2020,” Crowe says.

“We chose to take the Wirtgen WR240 machine to Alice because we know they are good reliable machines. We’ve got a two-metre Wirtgen machine and we’ve had no issues, so if we’re going to send something out into the middle of Australia we need something that is going to be reliable.”

The Wirtgen WR240 has a working width of 2.4 metres and a maximum working depth of 510 millimetres, enabling the machine to work on a wide range of soil stabilising or cold recycling operations.

With a powerful diesel engine, the WR240 is suited for long-lasting high-performance applications.

Soil stabilisation can be easily achieved with the WR240 by incorporating pre-spread binding agents in the pavement material through the machine’s purpose designed and built milling and mixing rotor. This helps to prepare the soil as a strong foundation for building, or in this case for aircraft pavements.

For soil stabilisation, on projects such as this one the ideal performance range sits between 4000 and 8000 square metres daily.

Heavy-duty, microprocessor-controlled spraying systems are featured in Wirtgen cold recyclers to help ensure that any binding agent, or water, is sprayed into soil according to exact specifications.

“It really is a strong, reliable machine and you can’t really beat that. If you do then get a problem Wirtgen are good at trying to solve that for you which is important when you are operating remotely,” Crowe says.

To make work simple and consistent for the operators, the WR240 has a precise metering system for binder addition and automated features in the cabin so the operator can set and forget some important measures. These functions can be saved and recalled through a touch screen monitor for frequently repeated work processes.

And a new feature to the WR240 series is the VARIO spraybar option, which maintains the spraying pattern of liquid binders or water across the spray bar at a range of pump speeds and pressures. This greatly improves the consistency and range of operating parameters the machine can work in, whilst maintaining material quality.

Visibility has also been considered to ensure the operator is supported with wide vision around the cabin and an intelligent camera system for the difficult to see places.

“When we found out there was a WR240 available we jumped on the chance to have one. With Wirtgen we sorted the commissioning process out quickly and got it taken straight up to Alice Springs,” Crowe says.

“Wirtgen sent a commissioning person to the site and commissioned the machine while it was up there working. My workers are well experienced in stabilisation, but Wirtgen helped them to get familiar with the machine.”

He says that is one of the reasons the company went with a Wirtgen machine, because he knows you can always speak to the technicians. Crowe says if there is a problem, he has confidence Wirtgen would send someone to site, even if it’s remote.

“We’ve now been using the machine for five weeks and have had no issues at all,” Crowe says.
Wirtgen take pride in having an accessible support team, regardless of the time of day or night they can always be on hand to get projects up and running again if necessary.

Following the completion of the plane storage facility in Alice Springs, Roadwork Industries plans to get the WR240 back to Tamworth in New South Wales for major patching works on the New England Highway.

“It’ll do smaller council type works for us and also highway work to stabilise new construction, so it’s well-rounded and suited to a lot of the type of works we do,” Crowe says.

“I’m happy with the purchase and if I was going to buy another one, it would have to be an exceptional unit to go away from Wirtgen.”

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