SOUTH KOREA: Safety is the bedrock of quarry performance
by Emilee Jennings
As the sun rises on a winter’s day in the east of South Korea, operators at the Gunwi plant sandstone quarry are already hard at work. Volvo EC700C crawler excavators and A40F articulated haulers can be spotted buzzing around the site as they go about their daily activities.
Run by Bo-kwang Industry, the Gunwi quarry in South Korea’s North Gyeongsang Province operates 11 hours a day, six days a week, extracting sandstone. Once the sedimentary rock has been broken up into smaller stones, the EC700C excavators gather them up and load them on to the A40F haulers. These stones are then transported for crushing into even smaller particles and sandy powder before being shipped off to a ready-mix concrete plant.
A couple of years ago this bustling and industrious site witnessed a potentially fatal accident unfold. Bo-kwang Industry CEO Byung-youn Park, who oversees the day-to-day running of the business, says: “We put a lot of emphasis on safety for our employees here.” Park clearly recalls the incident when an operator suddenly crashed his machine while carrying out routine tasks. “Thanks to the Volvo machine the operator was unharmed.”
Safety is the number-one priority for this family-owned quarry business. “I think safety is the most important thing above all else, so we are continually training our employees about it. I make a lot of effort to inform each employee about safety issues so that they can avert dangerous situations while they are working on site.”
The sandstone quarry stretches more than 430,000m2, employing 30 production staff and nine office personnel on site, ably supported by seven Volvo machines – three A40Fs and four EC700Cs.
Park, 42, has managed the site since it opened in 2004. “My father started the quarry business 30 years ago and my brother runs the same type of business in another location which is our affiliate company.”
Sandstone production at Bo-kwang Industry involves two general phases of quarrying and processing. The first step is accessing the sandstone deposits that are then excavated by the operators who locate or create small cracks in the stone. Kyoo-sung Cho, an EC700C operator explains his role: “Before the stones go into the crusher I have to sort the larger ones out.”
The A40F haulers then deliver the material to a grinder to be processed into the required size before being transported to its final location.
It is important for Park to maintain productivity and cost-effectiveness on such a busy site, and he says one of his main reasons for choosing Volvo was for fuel efficiency. “We started using Volvo equipment in May 2012 in an effort to save on fuel costs. I had heard on many occasions that Volvo is very fuel-efficient compared to other companies. In addition, the EC700C excavator is a very good, strong and powerful machine.”
From a managerial point of view, safety and efficiency are important contributions to the smooth running of the quarry, but for the operators, comfort is high up on the wish list. Cho appreciates the comfort the cab offers when he is at the controls each working day. “The operating lever is very smooth and easy to control, and because it is quieter than other machines it is less tiring to use.”
After four years of working at the quarry, this is one operator who has been won over by the Volvo machines, finding them roomy, safe and comfortable – desirable features for operators facing the daily challenges presented by the potentially dangerous environments they work in.