Skillings invest in four Liebherr Generation 8 excavators
Skillings is one of the early UK customers for Liebherr’s new Generation 8 excavators, placing an order for four machines from the factory in Colmar, France. An R 934 with straight demolition boom and an R 945 have already arrived with a pair of R 930s pencilled in for delivery later this year.
The ‘8’ package quickly follows recent delivery of R 926 and R 960 models to the Lancashire business, which operates nationwide on contract crushing and demolition as well as groundworks and enabling after dismantling. Its excavator fleet is dominated by Liebherrs.
‘We have taken the latest machines from Liebherr because they are simply the best for the job,’ said David Skillings, while Site Manager Peter Lees cited the support from the manufacturer as another key selling point. ‘We have been using another manufacturer alongside Liebherr but the back-up we get from Liebherr has been very impressive,” said Peter. ‘We know things break down but when you call Liebherr, there’s no issues or arguments, you just get a fitter turning up and sorting the problem out. I feel a lot of manufacturers should take note. We did have AdBlue issues on some of the earlier Tier 4 machines but Liebherr were honest with us, looked after us and resolved the issues with no complaints. That says a lot for the company and the way they respect their customers.’
The R 934G8 with straight boom joined the Liebherr line-up as a replacement for a five-year-old R 936 which had been operated by long-term employee David Marsden who, while impressed by the newcomer, was quick to praise its predecessor. ‘It’s still early days for the new machine but if it performs as my older one did, I’ll be very happy.’
CONNECT met David and Peter – pre Covid-19 – on a couple of company projects near Selby in North Yorkshire. The first is for a long-term client and involves a range of demolition and enabling works on a large processing site. ‘We have been undertaking a wide variety of work on this site, from demolition of redundant parts of the processing plant to developing land so that the client can undertake a large plan of expansion works,” Peter explained.
The arrival on site of the R 934 was timely given that Skillings had reached a point in the contract calling for demolition of a large storage tank that had been craned out from the bunded area where it had been sitting for a number of years. With the tank drained and cleaned, David tackled the 5m diameter, 7m tall structure with a new Fortress 25R rotating shear on the business end of the 38.1 tonne host machine.
The 7m straight mono boom coupled to a 2.9m dipper allows a potential pin height of almost 11m, making it an ideal configuration where a small, high-reach excavator can operate in a restricted footprint.
SCC’s entire excavator fleet is fitted with OilQuick hydraulic couplers for fast attachment changeovers and the combination of excavator and shear saw the tank cut in half in less than 15 minutes. Protected from falling debris by a substantial cage to the front and top of the cab, David then cut each half into smaller sections.
The R 934 is smaller than the machine it replaced but wasn’t found lacking, easily picking up and manoeuvring the tank and remaining stable when carrying the 2.5 tonne shear at full reach. ‘I’m very pleased with the power of the excavator,” said David.
Elsewhere, the largest of the current Generation 8 line up, the R 945, was making its presence felt breaking out the foundations of a former civic centre. With an operating weight of up to 47 tonnes and supplied with the heavy-duty LC-V undercarriage (a standard HD version is available) it replaced a similar-sized R 950 from the previous generation.
The huge undercarriage is fitted with double grouser pads and three top rollers with the bottom rollers protected by a set of substantial guards. The LV-V version allows the undercarriage to be expanded from a travelling width of 2.39m to a working width of 2.89m and because the upper structure is more than 120mm higher than the standard version, four large galvanised steps are bolted to the track frames for easier access to cab and upper body.
Both of Skillings’ new excavators have four rebar deflectors fitted to the undercarriages to prevent rebar being caught in the pads and dragged up to cause costly damage to the body and components. Those solid additions, along with substantial upper body side-impact protection, were fabricated by JJ Bullen of Ormskirk in Lancashire, a company held in high esteem by Skillings.
Unlike the smaller R 934, the R 945 carries a standard 6.45m boom with a 2.6m stick and is similarly equipped with an OilQuick coupler. In its fighting weight of 46.8t, it was used with a 3.5t Epiroc HB3600 hammer to quickly break up the slab for crushing. Traditionally offering a below-ground demolition service, the SCC team and its equipment were well prepared for removing and processing large areas of heavily reinforced concrete before moving on to the removal of the large concrete footings.
Both new Generation 8 excavators have the same cab design from previous models. One of the largest on the market, it has plenty of room fore and aft of the air-suspended and heated seat while large areas of glass mean the operator’s outlook is always uncluttered, even with the heavy-duty protection screen in place. A new foldable armrest makes access and exit easier while the latest 7-inch touchscreen relays important system information to the operator. Up to 10 settings can be stored, allowing various attachment flows and pressures to be easily recalled as needed.
Generation 8 excavators also get an upgraded LED lighting system to front, rear and sides of the upper structure, to the cab roof and boom, with the two lower upper structure lights protected by grilles. A full auto greasing system is also standard covering all points other than the bucket linkage.
Meeting the latest Stage 5 engine emissions regulations by way of a straightforward DOC (diesel oxidation catalyst) and SCR (selective catalytic reduction) system along with passive regeneration, the two excavators carry the same 8-litre, 4-cylinder Liebherr engine, the R 934 pushing out 272hp while its bigger brother delivers 27hp more. Torque ratings are the same, 1415Nm at just 1350rpm. The hydraulic system is supplied by a pair of 315l/m variable displacement pumps.
Peter and David agree that the latest excavators are by far ‘the nicest’ machines they’ve operated and they’re equally in agreement that equipment utilisation is vital for a successful business. Downtime occasionally causes disruption but the service from Liebherr’s depots at Bathgate, Weston-super-Mare and Wigan comes in for high praise. ‘We know we are going to have issues with any machine,’ said Peter. ‘It all hinges on the way a manufacturer deals with those problems and I have to say Liebherr have been excellent. We make a phone call and the engineer is out. We don’t have to chase or shout at people. Dealing with them is easy and that’s how it should be.’