RA30 proves to be a ‘strong asset’ for Skene Group

SKENE Group has hailed the impact made by a Rokbak RA30 hauler at its Soutra Mains Quarry in Pathhead, Midlothian.

Skene Group is a family business with a 100-person workforce. The company is a major supplier of pre-cast concrete blocks for use in Scotland’s housing market.

The Motherwell-built RA30 arrived on site in September 2022, with Skene Group having worked in collaboration with long-time dealer Molson Group.

“The RA30 has been a very good, strong asset to Soutra Mains,” explained quarry operations director Kevin Hill. “It’s rugged and robust, it can stand up to the conditions it’s subjected to, and it suits the type of rock we’ve got here.”

“When we needed to find an articulated hauler manufacturer, we were already attracted by Rokbak’s proximity to us,” explained Skene Group MD Darren Forrester. “Initially we were speaking to our contact at Molson, but we soon discovered that we would also have close contact with Rokbak throughout the process, which helped us to fine-tune the product to our specific needs.

“It was great to have that touch-and-feel of the Motherwell factory, to be able to jump in the car and see the hauler in its manufacturing stage and meet the guys that were building it. We have been able to see the passion from the assemblers and machinists to product management – you can tell the Rokbak products mean something to them.

“But what most impressed me about Rokbak as a manufacturer is that they allowed us to try both the RA30 and RA40 to see what would suit us personally on-site. Rokbak actually invested in Skene Group before we had even placed an order.”

At Soutra Mains, the RA30 is utilised predominantly in the lower benches of the quarry for load and haul, from the bottom level up to the concrete aggregate wash plant. The loading shovel fills the hauler in three passes before the RA30 sets off on an 800-metre round trip across different site levels to the plant and back.

“They’re generally dirty conditions for a dumper,” said Skene Group services and quarry manager Alex Brodie. “The Rokbak is running on compacted Type 1 sub-base with a few ruts here and there, but it’s nothing the machine can’t cope with. We’ve had no issues – the RA30 goes everywhere and does everything we’ve asked it to do.”

Skene Group’s RA30 customisation involves the tailgate and a green beacon, which is activated when the cab seatbelts are engaged. Side extensions on the truck are designed to maximise payload and help prevent spillage while travelling on the haul roads. An auto-lube system ensures everything is greased at the right times. Heated mirror arrangements offer greater visibility down the side of the machine, and an additional mirror on the bonnet is said to grant greater safety while manoeuvring.

“This customisation is specific to the demands of Skene Group and the Soutra Mains Quarry,” added Kenny Price, Rokbak’s regional sales manager for EMEA. “Winter conditions are always a challenge, particularly when the quarry endures a lot of rainfall, but the RA30’s capabilities make it more than adept at operating in adverse conditions.

“The high-performance engine balances controlled power with maximum fuel efficiency and the modulating transmission retarder is coupled with an efficient exhaust brake and fully enclosed oil-cooled multidisc brakes for total control – even on steep slopes.”

Rokbak explained that the RA30’s ROPS/FOPS certified cabs have been designed to avoid fatigue – with low noise, air-conditioning, cushioned steering and tough suspension.

Skene Group’s hard rock operations are based throughout central Scotland and the Borders region, with two quarries – the other being Lomond quarry in Fife – a block plant in Crossgates and the head office in Viewfield, offering ready-mix material and concrete blocks.

“When Skene Group was considering replacing an existing hauler, we were able to demonstrate how the RA30 met all of their requirements including safety, efficiency, productivity and operator acceptance,” said Mark Proudfoot, MD of Molson Group in Scotland. “Feedback for the RA30 has been extremely positive in terms of performance, efficiency and reliability – customers including Skene Group like that it’s modern but down-to-earth.

“In Soutra Mains Quarry we now have a piece of heavy engineering made in Scotland, performing in Scotland and supported in Scotland. We very much see the relationship with Rokbak and Skene Group as a partnership. Working closely with our OEM partners allows us to ensure we meet the needs of the customer as smoothly as possible, and having the customer included in this relationship closes the cycle – common interest, common goals, with all sides pulling in the same direction of having equipment working efficiently on site as part of a profitable operation.

“We love the Rokbak brand, what it stands for and how it aligns with the Molson Group approach: a sustainable forward-thinking company providing the very best equipment as the smart choice for customers, and, importantly, the support required when called upon.”