With a deeper, taller bucket, material is more likely to stick, causing the operator to bang the bucket in its full open position in order to dislodge the material.
Working in extreme conditions
RE Janes Gravel Co. is one of the largest suppliers of sand and gravel in Texas. The U.S. Geological Survey lists the company in its national directory of the principal suppliers of sand and gravel. While the company operates three mining operations in Texas, it is the Merkel facility that has the most extreme digging conditions.
"It's very densely packed sand and gravel. Its a fairly dirty deposit, so it's got a lot of clay in it," Etchison said. "There's some conglomerate. As far as abrasiveness, in the pits we have throughout the company, we go through a lot of scraper teeth and things like that just getting down to the deposit. When you get down to the material you can process, it's very abrasive. You go through teeth very quickly."
The Volvo EC460B operates at least 10 hours per day loading the haulers and also maintaining the pit. "The excavator is loading trucks that bring the material to the plant. That's the primary function of the excavator," Etchison said. "The excavator's a useful tool to be used in other places for repair days. It might dig a ditch or two, but its primary function is in hard digging. It is the central machine to the operation, so Janes Gravel cannot afford downtime from damaged buckets.
"You'll see on the Volvo bucket where it kind of wraps around, it has a wear plate that's actually a part of the bucket that's kind of a shoulder down the sides," Etchison said. "Where a lot of other buckets are put together right there at that corner, and all that is is stick weld. Once you get to that weld it's going to crack apart. Volvo's just seems to be a better design in that position.
"I think it's a good bucket. Overall it's performing well. It's the right shape bucket. They are going in the right direction."
Brian Etchison likes Volvo bucket performance.
'We have something here'
The way Rick Leaverton sees it, RE Janes Gravel Co. is really onto something with the new Volvo excavator bucket. "We have something here with this Volvo bucket," said Leaverton, sales manager with Associated Supply Co. (ASCO), the local Volvo dealer in West Texas. "It's a good bucket. It has great features. It's exciting to see it work so well for a key customer."
Volvo's new line of excavator buckets includes general purpose models for soft to medium materials, heavy duty versions for gravel or clay, rock buckets for sharp, fractured materials, ditch-cleaning buckets and extra performance (XP) buckets with a unique curved floor and self-filling design.
Walter Reeves, attachments manager for Volvo Construction Equipment, said one of the keys to the buckets is how the teeth penetrate the material without over-stressing the bucket lip. "If you eat a sandwich, you eat it with your teeth, not with your lips."
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