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Custom Stone Slinger Solution For Wind Farm Project

Nov 28, 2012 - 7 years ago

By Supply Post

In Jack Kottelenberg’s mind, the last hurdle would be to deliver more sand into the cut quickly, without wasting material.

With that piece in place, Kottelenberg would have what he was looking for: a faster, more cost-effective solution for laying down power and ground cables on his customers’ wind farms.

His family run firm, AVERTEX Utility Solutions Inc., was already established as one of Canada’s top specialists in underground cable contracting for electrical and communications utilities.

AVERTEX is known as an innovator in horizontal drilling technology, and its team has a knack for making new ideas work. Conventional wisdom said they should use open trench methods for laying distribution lines into these wind farm grids, but Kottelenberg was convinced that significant cost savings were achievable with the right plow and back up equipment in place.

The plow system he devised was doing the job, but he still needed a way to deliver a bed of sand in tandem with the plow so he could cushion the cable against any possible backfill damage. For AVERTEX customers, any compromise on the integrity of the installed cable was a deal breaker.

Calling in the Stone Slinger
By the time he contacted W.K. Dahms Mfg., makers of the Stone Slinger truck conveyor system, time was becoming critical. He reached Scott Nelson, the Manager of W.K. Dahms. “We had purchased our equipment on spec for an upcoming project,” Kottelenberg explains. “I took the idea to Scott and he looked at me a little crooked - then he said, ‘Yeah, I think we can do this.’ And we just started to draft something up.”

The first AVERTEX plan for the plow system relied on a bucket line of backhoes to move sand to the trench. However, they were unable to keep up with the rapid pace set by the plow. Even in open trench applications, they poured out too much material. “It’s hard to dump the sand with any control: you tip the bucket and a bunch more comes out… by the time the job’s done, you’ve gone through twice as much material as you needed or estimated for.”

The original Stone Slinger system places various types of aggregates with a high speed conveyor that can project stone accurately into foundations and trenches at distances up to 100 feet away. For the AVERTEX application, Nelson and his team needed a new version that could move higher volumes of material, but with equal precision.

Offroad floatation is essential
It would also need the right power unit to carry the conveyor system. Nelson and Kottelenberg undertook a search together, leading them to the Morooka 3300 carrier, a 19- ton tracked hauler with a standard dump capacity of up to 7.4 yards. “We tried a smaller truck,” says Kottelenberg, “but we had issues with parts and the plow was still outrunning the sand. For the wind farm projects, we need something that will float anywhere, on mud and swamps, and that can run on roads as well. The ground pressures on the Morooka carrier are minimal, even when it’s fully loaded, and the rubber tracks will go wherever we need it.”

More volume, more speed, more control
To fit the Morooka platform, Nelson had to completely reconfigure his standard Stone Slinger assembly. “The carrier follows Jack’s plow and discharges out the front of the vehicle from a range of about 15 feet. Any other Stone Slinger truck unloads from the back or the side. Our initial version for AVERTEX worked better than the backhoes, but Jack told us he still needed more, faster. We fitted the next version of the system with a larger discharge - it can now unload 30 tons of sand in 5 or 6 minutes.”

With four of the customized Morooka units now in the field, Kottelenberg and Nelson have continued to refine the Stone Slinger system. The latest design adds a rear conveyor gate that will discharge a full load in as little as two minutes. The centre of balance has been moved forward to improve traction as the load comes off the front of the dump box. To simplify service access to the powertrain, Nelson mounted the entire conveyor and box assembly so technicians can raise it up as a single unit on a rear pivot. Kottelenberg also identified improvements to the operator controls he would need for greater accuracy, and he added backup safety cameras for improved visibility behind and to the sides. Nelson has also upgraded a CANbus panel to control all hydraulic and operating functions.

Accolades for adaptability
“I can’t say enough about this organization and its adaptability,” says Kottelenberg. “The project proved to be very successful for us.” Since the prototype unit first rolled out, AVERTEX has completed several wind farm projects. Kottelenberg estimates he has put a total of 1.5 million meters of cable in the ground. The company has deployed the Morooka Stone Slinger to other projects as well, including gas lines for a landfill site and placing granular into trenches along railroad beds.

The Stone Slinger system has provided AVERTEX with a one-of-a-kind solution in a challenging niche market. Kottelenberg is proud of his company’s investment with Nelson and W.K. Dahms. “This is how all things get developed, right?” he remarks. “You have a need out in the field, you want to save manpower, save sand, save costs… sometimes spending money on new equipment is the way to do it. Now our customers have seen what we can do, and that’s what they can now expect.”

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