Far-Reaching Versatility

The ZX350LC-3 makes deep impact in Bordeaux

ZX225-5 Model Hitachi Excavators

Alain Lafon has been an operator for 43 years.

Colas Sud Ouest is a French subsidiary of the Colas Group, one of the world’s leading road construction and maintenance companies. It specialises in civil engineering and road construction, and in 1992 took over Sarrazy as an important link in its supply chain.

With 40 staff working over one shift, Sarrazy T.P. is able to extract 70,000 tonnes of material per year at its 50 hectare Naujac-sur-Mer site. In addition, 15,000 tonnes of concrete are recycled from local demolition sites and 30,000 tonnes of aggregates are processed from its other 15 hectare site at Queyrac.

In 2009, Sarrazy T.P. purchased an 18m super long front ZX350LC-3 from its local authorised dealer, DB Equipment, to extract the raw materials. The medium super long front excavator was selected specifically with the characteristics of Sarrazy’s natural deposits in mind.

The machine’s 18m front attachment is ideal for dredging the sand and gravel from the man-made lake. It is required to dig to a depth of 5m at Naujacsur- Mer and 9m at Queyrac.

“The versatility of the machine is important to us,” says Christian Bell, Sarrazy T.P.’s Area Manager. “In addition, reliability is vital to the productivity of this operation. We are delighted with the ZX350LC-3 on both counts. It works efficiently on both of our sites and of course its long reach means that it can dig deep into the water.”

The Naujac-sur-Mer site was originally a pine forest, but a huge storm destroyed the plantation in 1989. The first metre (in depth) of the remaining landscape is earth, which is moved to expose the different grades of gravel.

As the materials are excavated, they are placed in large piles to dry around the side of the pit. This process has created the lake, which attracts an array of wildlife, such as herons and gulls, creating a positive impact on the area’s biodiversity.

The super long front ZX350LC-3 also loads Sarrazy’s fleet of articulated dump trucks for the short journey to the company’s processing plant across the other side of the main road. However, a Hitachi ZW220 wheel loader has been ordered to carry out this task.

“We decided to buy the ZW220 because of the success of the ZX350LC-3,” adds Christian. “We are delighted with the support provided by DB Equipment and the Managing Director, Alain Delfot and have established an excellent working relationship together.”

The super long front ZX350LC-3's 18m front attachment is ideal for dredging sand and gravel.

A special application machine needs an experienced operator and Alain Lafon fits the bill. He has an incredible 43 years’ operating experience and has worked with Sarrazy since 2008. Although he has operated other super long front excavators for foundations and ports, this is the first Hitachi machine that he has worked with.

“It is important that an excavator operates smoothly for such an application,” says Alain, “and this is the best feature of the Hitachi super long front machine. It is precise, user-friendly and the controls are fast and responsive. In addition, the cab is spacious, with a comfortable seat and air conditioning.”

The final 0-2mm and 2-10mm aggregates are ready for delivery to Sarrazy’s concrete and road construction customers after the separation and washing processes have been carried out. There are 20 more hectares left to exploit at Naujac-sur-Mer, with the authorisation to extract materials until 2028.

“Our aim is to be able to process the aggregates within a close proximity of the source for the raw materials,” explains Christian. “The Naujac-sur-Mer site is a good example and we are investigating other possible locations on a continuous basis.”

The biggest challenge facing Colas Sud Ouest appears to be acquiring new sites with an abundance of natural deposits and then securing the right to extract the raw materials from the local authorities. However, with a clear strategy of how to acquire and process the materials using sustainable production methods, it is set to be the toast of the construction industry in the Bordeaux region for many vintages to come.

Images and story courtesy of Hitachi Construction Machinery (Europe).

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