From a bare job site, Volvo Construction Equipment machines helped to build the Brisbane West Wellcamp Airport in Australia.
Toowoomba, also known as the 'The Garden City’ because of its flourishing flower population and 150 parks and gardens, lies in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, located 79 miles west of Queensland’s capital city, Brisbane. Toowoomba’s population of 165,000 makes it Australia’s second-most populous inland city.
Brisbane’s West Wellcamp Airport, 17 km west of Toowoomba in east Australia, was completed at the end of last year by Wagners, an Australian family-owned construction company. The company specialises in transport, logistics, cement, pre-cast concrete, contract crushing and mining – locally and internationally. The company employs more than 1,000 staff.
The airport was built from scratch in just 18 months, from churning up the turf to the first aircraft landing. It’s the first greenfield public airport to be built in the country since Tullamarine in Melbourne, more than 45 years ago.
“Construction equipment was very important to this project,” says Denis Wagner, managing director of Wagners, based in Toowoomba. “We built a 2.87 km runway and it was critical that we had reliable equipment. We used a lot of mid-sized Volvo machines up to 50 tons, which were reliable and fuel efficient. We worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week in two 12-hour shifts. All of the construction materials for the project came from the site. We crushed the gravel and aggregate for the concrete and asphalt. To do this, we needed 350,000 truckloads, travelling in and out of the site. Commercially, it would be less attractive if we didn’t have that material already available to use.”
Rock was blasted, excavated and moved to make way for a 45 meter-wide runway. In the center of the site a concrete plant produced the estimated 26,000m3 of material needed for the project.
“All the concrete used for the aircraft pavement was the company’s own product called Earth Friendly Concrete or EFC,” says Wagner. “It’s concrete with no cement in it. This is the first airport in the world to be built using EFC. On this project alone, our carbon emissions were reduced by 6,600 tons – simply through the use of EFC.”
The Volvo L90F-Series wheel loader deposited the EFC into the concrete batching plant, where it was then discharged. The site also used 46-tonne Volvo excavators, as well as wheel loaders – from L90s up to L220s – and A40F-Series articulated haulers on a daily basis.
Brisbane West Wellcamp will service passengers from Toowoomba and the Darling Downs. There are 334,000 people living in the airport’s catchment area and the airport expects to welcome 500,000 passengers a year. There are only 13 houses within a 3 km radius of the runway, so the impact on the local community is minimal.
Privately funded by Wagners, Brisbane West Wellcamp will be Australia’s first public airport constructed without government assistance. The company was founded in 1989 by the four Wagner brothers and their father, Henry. Wagners mainly specialises in construction materials and mining services and has completed work in Russia, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands.
Prior to its redevelopment as a ‘Code E’ airfield capable of accommodating up to 747 aircrafts or jumbo-jets, the 2,000 hectare property at Wellcamp was used for cattle-grazing. Adjoining the new airport will be Wellcamp Business Park, which will accommodate commercial office space, retail, hotels and manufacturing sites. About 150 Wagners employees worked on the project and an estimated 10 million tons of earth was moved in total.
Picture 1: Volvo’s wheel loader and excavator work as a team
Picture 2: The L220G-Series loads overburden earth