Sandman Quarries is a family-owned and run company that has been operating a legacy fleet of Volvo construction equipment for more than 20 years — all of which are still providing sterling service.

Therefore, when director Hein Potgieter initiated a fleet renewal programme in 2008, he did not hesitate in again choosing Volvo construction equipment, acquiring three new units: an A30D articulated hauler, EC240BLC tracked excavator and L120F wheeled loader from local distributor Babcock Equipment.

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Babcock Equipment sales representative Rob Pringle (left) discusses the operation of the Volvo machines with Sandman Quarries director Hein Potgieter.

These new units have taken over the primary loading and haulage functions at the company’s operation in the Uitenhage district near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

Sandman Quarries was established in 1986 when Harry Potgieter, father of the current owner Hein, recognised a requirement existed to supply high grade building sand and stone aggregate to the region’s building contractors and building and manufacturing industries. “We had previously opened a small-scale quarry on the farm and this made us realise that a reliable supplier of high grade building sand and aggregate was in great demand in the region,” Hein explains.

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“Our aggregate and sand is of a very high quality as it is produced from crushed, not blasted rock. This results in a much lower super-fine content that in turn results in less cement being needed by the building contractors. This has obvious cost-saving implications in spite of them paying a premium price for our high quality material.”

“We own the farm on which we run the operation which is a tremendous advantage, especially to our cost of doing business. My father and I jointly managed the business until he decided to retire. I bought-out the company in 2007 and I’m now the sole proprietor, managing the operation myself,” he adds.

“When the decision was made to renew our plant fleet, we did not hesitate in choosing Volvo as our supplier of choice. The decision was an obvious one. I have operated a fleet of Volvo loaders and haulers which are still in operation. Volvo is an excellent machine and its reputation is borne-out by the excellent performance of my new machines.”

A hands-on manager, Hein ensures the entire operation runs smoothly and the machines are meticulously maintained and operated in accordance with prescribed environmental and safety guidelines. “We diversified our business but this quarry is still being run on an active commercial farm. We mine an area of just under three hectares in extent which does not impact on our farming operations.”

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Operations strip mine 25 metre length sandpits that are excavated to a maximum depth of 3m. No drilling or blasting is required as this is alluvial sedimentary material.

“I have a staff complement of 25 including machine operators, labourers and two administrative staff. This is a daylight only operation; we work a five day, 45 hour week with nine hour long shifts.”

Hein points out that the company is are extracting some 15,000 tonnes of sand and stone a month. “We are fortunate that there is very little waste (only some five percent) including clay and organic matter such as vegetation and tree roots that requires removal.”

The quarry has a life expectancy of at least 10 years. Sand extraction is done using our new Volvo EC240BLC excavator. “No drilling or blasting is required as this is alluvial sedimentary material. We strip mine 25 metre length sandpits to a maximum depth of three metres. Working adjacent to a river poses certain operational challenges, not least of which the ever-present threat of flooding of the pit,” he adds.

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A true blue Volvo company. Sandman quarries’ fleet of Volvo construction equipment including older legacy models right up to the most modern Volvo wheeled loaders.

“We stockpile sand on sites away from the river during dry periods which allows us to continue operations when we have rainfall episodes which would otherwise have precluded sand removal. This also prevents any of the loose sand in the pit adjacent to the river being swept downstream when the river’s in full spate,” Hein explains.

“The Volvo A30D is our primary haulage unit. The haulage distance to the processing plant is 5.0 km along a well maintained gravel road. The single A30D has proven to be adequate for the scale of our operations, being used about 75% of the working day. The unit is also used to haul sand to our stockpiles when the plant is not being fed.”

He adds that the articulated hauler is operated in all-wheel drive mode which negates any tractions problems we may have in the very sandy underfoot conditions in the pit. During rainy periods the unit also performs faultlessly in wet clay, continuing operations without interruption.

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A contractor provides transport for smaller quantities of stone aggregate and sand for delivery to home users or small contractors

A screening, washing and crushing plant is located on site. Soil is dumped on a stockpile adjacent to the screening plant which is fed using a Volvo L120E wheeled loader. This removes any organic matter such as vegetation matter and roots while also screening out clay, larger rocks and pebbles. This plant screens to -50 mm and the sand is sent to the nearby washing plant. Should finer grade sand be required it is taken to the crushing plant and crushed and screened to -5 mm.

Vegetation matter is removed manually by laboureres while the rocks and pebbles are sorted by size and stockpiled prior to being fed into the crusher plant. These are crushed to produce various grades of aggregate. The L120F wheeled loader is used in a load-and-carry application to move the screened aggregate to stockpiles and is also the primary loading unit for the on-highway delivery trucks moving the sand and aggregate from the yard.

“I chose Volvo due to my experience with using them in the company. It is a superior machine with advanced design features and returning low fuel consumption figures.”

The Sandman Quarry fleet comprises 10 units of which nine are Volvos. These include one each L120C, L120E, L120F and 4500 wheeled loaders, a Volvo A30D articulated hauler, three Volvo 861 articulated haulers and a Volvo EC240BLC tracked excavator.

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Old faithful. One of the three Volvo Model 861 articulated haulers used to haul waste material from the plant to the quarries. These machines continue to offer sterling service having accumulated some 40,000 hours each and having been rebuilt a number of times.

The wheeled loaders are fitted with 3.5 m3 general purpose buckets while the excavator has a 1.5 m3 bucket. The ADT has a bin liner fitted to reduce damage from rocks and the abrasion from the sand. The wheeled loaders are used to load the trucks and hoppers of the crushing and screening plants. The old Model 861 articulated haulers are used to haul waste material from the plant to the quarries while the A30D hauls material from the sandpits and stockpiles to the processing plant. The excavators are used to load the articulated haulers.

“I have my own fully equipped workshop on-site with a qualified diesel mechanic on the payroll. We do our own maintenance and have extensively rebuilt the older wheeled loaders and articulated haulers.”

“Our major clients provide their own transport for their stone aggregate and sand while a contractor provides transport for smaller quantities for home use or small contractors,” he points out.

“Our three Volvo 861 articulated haulers were re-engined with Deutz motors, while the 4500 wheel loader has been re-engined with a Mercedes 407 motor as sourcing spares was becoming a problem for these ageing machines. These machines continue to offer sterling service having accumulated some 40,000 hours each and having been rebuilt a number of times in our own workshop. Our machines have performed very well. Availability has been in excess of 95% while the wheeled loaders are busy all day and the ADT about 75% of the day,” Hein concludes.