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Liebherr adds to the mix

Jan 20, 2024

A Liebherr batching plant has revolutionised a company's working methods and helped it win more customers...

Headquartered in Lockerbie, Grange Quarry entered the ready-mixed concrete market more than a decade ago and expansion has been relentless since. To help cope with continuing high demand, it has invested in a technologically advanced batching plant from Liebherr.

Founded in 2000 by Stuart and Lynn Dodd with a single site, Grange has grown to become one of the largest suppliers of aggregates and ready-mix in a territory encompassing Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Borders and Cumbria.

Its first venture into the ready-mixed business came with the opening of a plant at Kirkburn and the success of that facility gave the company the confidence to set up others at Dalbeattie and Lockerbie. The latest addition to the network, its Borders Concrete depot at Earlston, opened in 2020 and is home to a new Mobilmix 2.5F, one of Liebherr's most popular batching plants.

Earlston's original plant had a capacity of around 1m3 and was soon becoming overwhelmed with the volume of business the company was winning. ‘We quickly realised that we needed to increase our capacity,’ explained Managing Director Stuart Dodd. ‘The area in and around the Borders is seeing a large amount of investment from local authorities and the private sector with flood defence schemes, wind farm projects and several new housing developments underway.’

Research into a replacement plant was wide-ranging but Dodd and his team were drawn to the Liebherr Mobilmix 2.5F package which offered not only an increase in production but a reduction in batching time per mix.

Speed of delivery and set-up was another attraction; the entire plant ships from Liebherr's Bad Schussenried factory in Germany in just seven loads and can be erected in only two days on pre-installed pads. Once completed and commissioned, concrete can be produced in less than a month and the compact modular design means the plant can be quickly relocated to other sites.

At the heart of the Mobilmix is Liebherr's 2.5m3 twin-shaft mixer housed in a pre-wired module. With a potential output of 115m3 per hour, Grange's module is fitted with 50mm insulated panels to reduce airborne noise from the mixing unit and ensure that water in the pipework continues to flow freely in the coldest of Scottish winters.

To one side of the elevated mixer module sit three, 100t capacity silos containing cement and additive that are auger-fed directly into the mixer. On the other side are five elevated aggregate bins with a combined capacity of more than 175m3. The bins sit above another pre-built module containing the heavy-duty conveyor system which in turn leads to the elevator taking material into the mixer. The final module is the batching plant control room, pre-wired and installed on the main framework and which slides into place once the legs of the mixing module are raised.

The control room houses the ‘brains’ of the plant and is where plant foreman David Hodgens spends much of his shift. 'I’ve spent more years than I care to remember working with concrete and this Liebherr batching plant has to be the best I’ve worked with. There are so many features compared to other plants I’ve worked on that it takes a bit of getting used to, but once I did, the process is so quick and simple."

The entire operation is computer-controlled and shown on screens, allowing David to adjust the batching process quickly and easily. ‘The speed of batching has almost halved with the Liebherr unit and we are able to batch almost double the amount at any single time. This plant has revolutionised the way we work and has allowed us to service far more clients.’

To enable the plant to supply small quantities of material directly into trailers and pick-ups, a secondary, heavy-duty trunk has been fitted and swings into use hydraulically when needed. To keep trucks and the plant clean, a pressure washing system was specified and mounted to the frame of the plant to the side of the loading area.

The increased capacity of the plant also demanded an increase in loader capability and again, Liebherr was the choice. Already familiar with the manufacturer's wheeled loader range, Grange specified a new L566 XPower to ensure bins are kept fully stocked throughout the working day.

The L566 XPower is one of six models in a wheeled loader range combining class-leading fuel efficiency and power and with a bucket capacity of 4.7m3 makes light work of managing the material stockpiles. James Mains is the regular operator and says the Liebherr is a huge improvement over the smaller machine he sat in when servicing the older plant. ‘If we had a wind farm pour, I could spend almost an entire 14-hour shift moving material. The Liebherr makes the job easier and less demanding on me and ultimately uses less fuel.’

Meanwhile, David Hodgens has been impressed with the manufacturer's service ethic. ‘From the installation through commissioning and now into our few weeks of operation, Liebherr have been able to answer our questions and give us detailed training and instruction on the best operating methods to get the best out of the mixing plant. The same goes for the wheeled loader and the instruction they have given us on that.’

Stuart Dodd - Managing Director is similarly impressed: ‘Since the first loader arrived on the fleet, we have seen improvements in our fuel usage, a major plus point for any operator these days. The reliability and build quality of the Liebherr products has impressed us, our plant managers and our operators and we are hoping the new batching plant will meet our expectations on those fronts too. The reliability and build quality of the Liebherr products has impressed us, our plant managers and our operators’

'I’ve spent more years than I care to remember working with concrete and this Liebherr batching plant has to be the best I’ve worked with’ – Plant Foreman David Hodge