Out on the prairie

Out on the prairie

In the flat Canadian prairie, 22 Volvo motor graders are keeping roads passable through inhospitable weather conditions.

In east-central Alberta, Canada, the County of Two Hills and the neighbouring Flagstaff County have over 3,320 miles (5,343 km) of roads to be maintained, of which less than ten percent are paved. The challenge is to keep these roads passable through the snow in winter, the mud in spring, the rain in summer and the frost in autumn for the 8,000 residents.

Local weather conditions can be fairly inhospitable. Temperatures range from minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (-46 C) in January - accompanied by a chilling winter wind - to over 95 degrees Fahrenheit (+37 C) in the summer - with a harsh dry wind. And precipitation, both rain and snow, can reach as high at 74 inches (187 cm) annually.

Out on the prairie

The County of Two Hills
Public Works Manager Raymond Bouchard is responsible for maintaining the roads in the County of Two Hills.

"We purchased our first Volvo G976 motor grader a few months ago and we are pretty impressed so far. The operators like its performance, the maintenance staff are pleased with its reliability and it's terrific for snow ploughing - it's a great machine," he says

Bouchard's biggest problem was convincing senior operator Willy Derda, who has 18 years experience operating motor graders, to try the Volvo. "He didn't want to leave his usual motor grader," says Bouchard. "But when I convinced him to try the Volvo he became a big fan and now he won't go back."

When asked about the Volvo G976 All Wheel Drive motor grader, Willy says: "I like this grader. It's got lots of power. I love its short turning radius, especially on some of these narrow roads. The cab has great visibility and it's quiet and comfortable in both summer and winter!"

The Volvo G976 motor grader has a blade down force of 21,574 lb. (9,776 kg) and a maximum blade pull of 36,679 lb. (16,635 kg). The low-emission, turbocharged Volvo diesel engine provides a maximum power output of 265 hp (198 kW). When coupled with the optional Volvo HTE1160 transmission, with 11 forward and six reverse speeds, it is economical and versatile with precision control at low-speed, efficient travel at high speed and greater accuracy in the working range.

The All Wheel Drive mode provides more traction and control for an extra 8,500 lb. (3,855 kg) of blade pull and high-speed capability for operation in heavy snow or unstable footing.

Bouchard and his operators are pleased with the power and performance of the All Wheel Drive mode when working on heavy-duty road repairs or road re-construction. "It really holds the slope when cutting," says Bouchard. "It's got a good weight and it's a strong machine."

Out on the prairie

 

 

Flagstaff County
A few miles further south is Flagstaff County. The county has 1,800 miles (3000 km.) of road which is a mix of gravel, bladed dirt roads, all-weather roads, oiled roads and a few miles of asphalt paved roads.

Out on the prairie

To simplify the maintenance of the roads, Darrell Szott, Public Works Superintendent for the county, has broken the county into ten maintenance areas. "We have assigned graders to each area and they have a minimum of 160 miles (257 kms) of road each, to maintain," he says.

Darrell explains that he chose Volvo because it offers value for money. "We were familiar with the quality of Volvo equipment, we have been using a Volvo wheel loader for some time and a Volvo tracked excavator, but we have used a competitor brand of grader for a long time.

"We replace our graders every five years and Flagstaff County recently purchased two new Volvos, a G940 motor grader for maintenance and a Volvo G976 All Wheel Drive for the oiling crew," he continues.

When asked about fuel consumption, Murray Moulder, Public Works Foreman, points out that, "Fuel consumption on the Volvo grader is good but it is also dependent on the operator and the type of roads they are working on. We have sand roads where a cutting edge will last for two weeks. Then we have roads where the surface is a combination of gravel and bentonite clay and it takes three times more blade pressure so we have to change the edge twice a day. So our fuel consumption can vary. But we are very pleased with the performance of our Volvo graders."

Veteran heavy equipment professional Gates Morin has been working with the Volvo G940 for a few weeks. "I have worked with almost every kind of heavy equipment made but I have never worked with a machine like this Volvo. It definitely has my seal of approval."

Ends.

September, 2010

Text: Clare Gittins

Photo 1: The Volvo G940 motor grader in action.
Photo 2: Machine operator Willy Derda at the controls of the Volvo G976 All Wheel Drive motor grader.
Photo 3: The Volvo G976 All Wheel Drive motor grader provides more traction and control.
Photo 4: Murray Moulder, Public Works Foreman, is pleased with the performance of the graders.

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