IS THIS AUSTRALIA'S HARDEST-WORKING EXCAVATOR/OPERATOR TEAM?
"basically, we didn't turn the machine off at all..."
Pilbara-based excavation contractor Yuleworks probably has some of the hardest-working Komatsu excavators in Australia with its first machine, a PC300-8, having logged 17,000 hours in very tough conditions and no major component failures.
Yuleworks co-owners John Yule and his father Alistair decided to go into business together in 2008.
"He's been driving excavators pretty much his whole life, and I was very new to the industry, so when we started, he had to teach me the ropes," John said.
They bought the PC300-8 new in 2008 when they picked up a hire agreement with a supplier to a major resources project in the Pilbara region of north Western Australia.
The demanding nature of the work meant that the machine worked literally almost non-stop for its first two years with Alistair working one 12-hour shift, and John the other.
"In the first two years, we were working 24 hours a day; dad would work through the day and I would work through the night then, every month or so we would swap over," said John.
"So basically, we didn't turn the machine off at all: only when we had to service it."
Once they were established, one project would end and another would start.
"We went out on a limb and bought a second machine and now it's all coming together," said John.
"Today, we have nine employees and five diggers built up basically from just me and him at the start, with the one machine between us for the first few years."
Yuleworks' original Komatsu machine is still with them, and John expects it to keep performing for some years to come.
The excavator is oil sampled regularly to ensure there are no major component issues coming up and the samples indicate plenty of life to come.
"We sample every component when we get it serviced, and we've had no indication of the machine becoming tired.
"We've had a couple of queries on oil samples, but we've had pretty much no bad oil samples.
"It is still in great working condition. It's still tight to operate and we get comments and compliments on it all the time," he said.
"Today it's got 17,700 hours on it at the moment and it's been working with hard rock, granite, its whole life.
"At about 10,000 to 11,000 hours, we started using a rock breaker on the machine, so the last 5000 hours at least, it's been fairly solid with the rock breaker," he said.
"It's served us really, really well and we are extremely happy with the machine; it has had no major component failures and in fact has been the cornerstone of our whole business.
"We based our business around that machine and have relied on it 24 hours a day and it has provided for us," John said.
Since the initial PC300-8, Yuleworks has purchased a PC350-8 and three PC450-8s and all are giving the same outstanding levels of performance and reliability, backed by excellent support from Komatsu Australia.
"One of our PC450s has 11,750 hours on it, and we've had a pretty good run with that machine as well," said John.
"It did have the stick crack at 6000 hours. It actually started a shift under warranty at 5995 hours and finished the shift at about 6007 hours with the crack; Komatsu came to the party and warranted the stick and we were obviously really pleased with that.
"Other than that, we've had no other problems with the machine," he said.
"It's the same as the first one: no major component failures, and it has spent its whole life in hard rock granite work as well."
John's and Alistair's other machines have performed equally well.
"Our PC350 was machine number three and that's now got 8800 hours on it and has had absolutely nothing wrong with it; in fact, it still looks like new, that machine.
"Then the PC450 that we bought last year has 4300 hours on it and it hasn't broken down at all, not once," he said.
Their most recent machine is the third PC450-8, bought for a recent contract, and delivered in September.
"We needed to be reliable, because we are actually working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, loading material out.
"So we bought an another PC450 to allow for extra servicing commitments; that's now got about 500 hours on it and is working just as well as all the other ones.
"I would also like to mention how much help salesman Dean Jones, from Komatsu's branch in Perth, has given us over the past five years.
"Every time I need something I call him directly and he consistently responds with a great attitude. We have bought every machine from Dean and hopefully we can continue our great relationship we have with him," said John.
This most recent machine was financed through Komatsu Australia Corporate Finance, who John described as "more than helpful".
"We dealt with John Meakins from Komatsu Finance, and he was very easy to deal with, very helpful, and always available to chat when we needed him to.
"He actually flew up here to sign the agreement and have a look at our machines; it is really good to see the people you deal with face-to-face and shake hands with them," he said.
John and Alistair take a lot of pride in their fleet, and put a lot of work into ensuring it is well maintained and immaculately presented.
"We rely on the machines and so we put a lot of effort into maintaining them and cleaning them and keeping them in good condition, because they basically run 24 hours a day," John said.
"All the machines, up to the 6000 hours warranty, are serviced by Komatsu and after that, we tend to use an external contractor but all major works, we get Komatsu to come out and do.
"We have the Komatsu fitters coming out from Karratha or sometimes they travel down from the Port Hedland branch, and they are always available, willing and helpful.
"We have received great service from Matt Bryant and Aaron Bryant over the past five years, really helping our business to thrive," he said.
"Our operators really appreciate this as well.
"We get lots and lots of comments from our guys, especially when they first come to work for us they always comment on the machines, how good they are, the condition," John said.