Floating pontoon used to get 35-tonne wheel loader across Lake Thun to customer AG Balmholz
THE recent handover of an L260H wheel loader from Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) to Swiss firm AG Balmholz proved somewhat unconventional – with a floating pontoon delivery needed for the machine to reach its new home.
AG Balmholz’s hard rock quarry in the Bernese foothills of the Alps, on the steep northern shore of Lake Thun, makes transportation of goods and materials to and from the site a challenge. Although accessible via the winding lake road that runs between Thun and Interlaken, which is popular with day trippers and motorcyclists, the route is limited to maximum loads of 34 tonnes, ruling out its use for the 35-tonne L260H.
The quarry is one of only 10 in the whole of Switzerland to provide a valuable source of a particularly dense, compact and highly pressure-resistant rock. Every year, the workforce at AG Balmholz extract around 250,000 tonnes of the material, which is processed into blocks for hydraulic engineering, railway ballast, chippings and crushed sand.
Many factors played a role in AG Balmholz’s decision to choose their first-ever Volvo wheel loader, as managing director Christoph Künzi explained: ‘We were particularly impressed with the breakout force of the L260H. In the initial evaluation of the machine by plant manager Markus Wegmüller and his team, the figures on paper looked impressive. Then came the practical test: depending on the blade used, the breakout force of the loader was between 256kN and 336kN.’
Other qualities, such as cab comfort and simple serviceability also met AG Balmholz’s requirements, and all the team agreed that the Volvo machine would complement the quarry’s existing fleet. ‘Overall, the L260H came out on top in terms of price, performance and consumption,’ said Mr Künzi.
Volvo CE say this result is no surprise, as the L260H offers a static tipping load at full turn of almost 24 tonnes, whilst a longer wheelbase than its predecessor means the loader can be mounted with a larger bucket, which adds to the overall efficiency and productivity. Fitted with a 6.5 cubic metre bucket, AG Balmholz say they plan to use the new wheel loader for around 1,000h a year for the next 10 years.