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By Mark S. Kuhar

It’s a question that crosses every operations manager’s mind on a daily basis: How do we increase productivity and efficiency?34 NBI1 400

For Rick Bailey, senior vice president of operations for New Birmingham Inc. (NBI), and his team, the answer is a Hitachi ZX670LC-5 Excavator.

Decreased Cycle Times

NBI has been operating in East Texas since 2005 and has developed quickly into a leading integrated industrial minerals and logistics company. NBI’s Tyler, Texas, plant and 1,400-acre mine produces sand primarily used for fracking; however, the plant’s process of mining sand and loading 40-ton trucks was not as efficient as it could be.

“We were using a different brand of excavator; it was taking seven to eight loads per truck, and we were running five trucks,” Bailey said.
With a plant expansion underway, the company became interested in a ZX670LC-5 to boost efficiency and help meet an expected sand production demand of 2.4 million tons. NBI took delivery of the ZX670LC-5 from ROMCO Equipment Co. in October 2014, and immediately began seeing results.

“Now we’re doing about four passes to load the trucks,” Bailey said. “The 670 cuts the turnaround time and increases production. You can’t beat that.”

Tackling Production Demands

35 NBI2 400Once the sand is loaded, it’s trucked to NBI’s on-site plant where it is washed to remove clay particles and other minerals, sorted and sized. Different grades of sand are then distributed to fracking operations throughout the country.

The plant runs 24/7, and the ZX670LC-5 operates on12-hour shifts at the mine, six or seven days a week. Bailey said the size of the ZX670LC-5 was a perfect match for mine operations.
“We needed something that wasn’t too big but could handle the production demands,” Bailey said. “The 670 can handle it. We’re doing 20-ft. lifts, and it has plenty of weight so we don’t worry about it tilting.”

Michael Paye, mine manager for NBI, said the ZX670LC-5 is exceeding operators’ expectations.

“Our operators say the 670 is smoother than other machines we’ve had in the past; it has faster cycle times, and production’s increased tenfold,” he said.

NBI keeps the ZX670LC-5 running at optimum performance by making preventative maintenance a priority.

“Sand is an abrasive element that contributes to machine wear,” Bailey said. “So we stay on top of greasing and do pre- and post-shift maintenance exams.”

The Hitachi Experience

The ZX670LC-5 isn’t the first Hitachi machine NBI has put to work. The company also uses a ZX350LC-5 at its Tyler, Texas, plant and has previously used a ZX330LC-3 at its iron ore plant. Bailey said these positive machine experiences supported NBI’s decision to purchase the ZX670LC-5.35 NBI3 400

“We had experience with Hitachi and knew they made good machines,” Bailey said. “So we were confident in our decision to get the 670.”

It also doesn’t hurt to have strong dealer support behind your investment. NBI continues to partner with its longtime Hitachi dealer, ROMCO Equipment Co.

“We’ve worked with ROMCO for about 10 years, and they’ve always provided very active support to keep us running,” Bailey said. “We haven’t always had good experiences with other brands when it comes to maintenance. ROMCO takes care of us, though, and we’re really pleased with the 670.”

New Birmingham Inc. is serviced by ROMCO Equipment Co. of Longview, Texas.

This article first appeared in Hitachi’s BREAKOUT magazine, 2nd issue, 2015.